Seminars & Colloquia

Rahul R. Divekar

Educational Testing Service (ETS)

"Learning languages with Artificial Intelligence Agents in Immersive Environments"

Tuesday January 31, 2023 10:00 AM
Location: 3211, EB2 NCSU Centennial Campus
(Visitor parking instructions)


Abstract: When learning a new language, one common goal is to learn how to use it pragmatically in everyday conversations. The skills required to achieve that goal go beyond what is available to many learners, e.g., going beyond learning the vocabulary and grammar rules and additionally engaging in conversational practice in authentic contexts. A common way to practice these conversations in authentic contexts is by participating in immersion programs such as traveling to another region or country where the target language is abundantly spoken. However, traveling to another region to learn a language seems daunting and expensive. Therefore, a solution is to instead bring the experiences of the foreign country to the learner. We did this by using Extended Reality (XR), where learners can feel like they are in the target country and interact with embodied AI agents situated in XR that can 'see,' 'listen,' and respond to learners to engage them in socially authentic conversations. In this talk, I will present the philosophy, research, and details of this learning paradigm and show demo videos of the learning experiences we created at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
Short Bio: Dr. Divekar is an interdisciplinary researcher interested in Educational Technology, Artificial Intelligence, Extended Reality, and Human-computer Interaction. He received his Ph.D. in Computer Science from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY, in 2020. Since then, he has worked as a research scientist at Educational Testing Service, where he continues researching Natural Language Processing technology for language learning. He has published in journals and conferences, and has been active in spaces such as Routledge's Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL) journal, ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, and NAACL, among others. His work on language learning with AI agents in immersive environments has been noted by national and international media such as the Associated Press, New York Times, and The Indian Express, among others.

Host: Tiffany Barnes, CSC

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