Exploring Social Robots as a tool for Special Education to teach English to Iranian Kids with Autism

Document Type : Original Article


Assistant Professor, Islamic Azad University, and Research Associate in SR Lab, Sharif University of Technology


This paper investigates the effects of Robot Assisted Language Learning (RALL) on English vocabulary learning and retention of Iranian children with high-functioning autism. Two groups of three male students (6-10 years old) with high-functioning autism participated in the current study. The humanoid robot NAO was used as a teacher assistant to teach English to in one group whereas no robot was used in the other group. Both group programs consisted of 12 sessions held within a 2-month period. Using a pre-test, mid-test, immediate post-test, delayed post-test design, this study measured the learning gains of the participants. The group with the humanoid robot outperformed the other group in the designed tests which showed the effectiveness of robot assisted language learning. This was further supported by comparing and contrasting the both groups’ parents’ feedbacks as well as the results obtained from the qualitative analysis of the video records. The findings of this study could be a starting point for a new line of research in second/foreign language education specific to children with autism.