MemBot offers up stress-free language practice

MemBot offers up stress-free language practice

Can Memrise's bespoke Language Partner Chatbot lower learners' stress levels? The results of this new study point towards a breakthrough in the language learning field.
January 10 2023 learning science Memrise News & Events

Stress and learning

Stress and pressure are everywhere in education; deadlines, evaluations and exams are always near. This stress and the pressure to perform affects every student. And while it may help in memory formation, studies have shown that in education, stress has a negative impact on memory recall (e.g. Heim Et al.) and knowledge acquisition (e.g. Theobald Et al.).

In practicing the skill of using a new language in conversation, learners need to be able to recall the language learned and use it in a new way. In these situations, stress impairs recall and makes the task much harder. It is why language learners often report finding it easier to practice speaking in a new language after a couple of drinks (e.g. Carlyle Et al.). Stress and anxiety levels fall after drinking, which makes it easier for learners to recall knowledge and use the language they have learned.

The challenge for language teachers is providing learners with the practice they need without causing stress (and without resorting to alcohol!).

Meet MemBot

MemBot is an AI language partner built using GPT-3 technology to create human-like conversations on any subject under the sun. Language learners can use it to practice using the language that they have learned to accomplish “missions” by talking to MemBot in their target language.

The aim of MemBot is to create a low-stress, low-cost language practice environment that can be accessed by anyone, anywhere in the world.

The study

Kouo, an Emotion Analytics company, ran an independent study with 60 language learners, comparing their emotional responses to two different language practice experiences:

  • Tutor: A video call with a human language tutor
  • Membot: A conversation, or “mission”, with MemBot

Learner emotions were analysed with Kouo's unique technology, which measures emotions using data from everyday wearable devices, such as Apple watches. This allowed the assessment of real human emotions in the learners' natural environments for study. Furthermore, wearables also enabled Kouo to measure and understand each user’s unique emotional journeys, providing for a rich understanding of theiruser experiences.

So what were the results?

Learners had 45% lower stress levels (high statistical significance, with >99% confidence) when practicing using the MemBot than learners who spoke with a tutor. This is an enormous difference which points to a breakthrough in the field of language practice. The study also found that lowering stress in learners more than doubled their motivation to keep learning.

Screenshot 2023-01-10 at 14.52.49[Graph showing stress intensity in people practicing speaking with a Tutor (Purple) and with MemBot (Orange)]

Additionally, the data showed that, when practicing with a tutor, learner stress levels start high and vary through the conversation, but remain at a high level throughout. When practicing by speaking to MemBot, stress levels are highest right at the start, but fall throughout the conversation. We believe that this drop is because people are unsure what to expect from the MemBot experience at first, but once they are familiarized, they find it very relaxing and become increasingly focused!

Interested by these positive results and want to give MemBot a try? Get started here.