CoWriting Kazakh: Using a Robot to Learn New Script

Anara Sandygulova, Wafa Johal, Zhanel Zhexenova, Bolat Tleubayev, Aida Zhanatkyzy, Aizada Turarova, Zhansaule Telisheva, Anna Cohen-Miller, Thibault Asselborn, Pierre Dillenbourg

In the Republic of Kazakhstan, the transition from Cyrillic to the Latin alphabet raises challenges of training an entire population to write using the new script. This paper presents a Co-writing Kazakh system, an extension of the existing Co-writer system, aiming to implement an autonomous social robot that would assist children in the transition from the old Cyrillic alphabet to a new Latin alphabet. With the aim of investigating which learning strategy yields better learning gains, we conducted an experiment with 67 children, aged 8-11, who interacted with a robot in a Co-writing Kazakh learning scenario. Participants were asked to teach a humanoid NAO robot how to write Kazakh words using one of the scripts: Latin or Cyrillic. We hypothesised that a scenario in which a child is asked to convert the word to Latin would be more effective than having the robot perform the conversion itself.

Results show that the Co-writer was successfully applied to this new script-switching task. The findings also suggest interesting gender differences in the preferred method of learning with the robot.