Editor’s note: In this piece, Dr. W. Lewis Johnson, CEO at Alelo, shares information about avatar-based language learning solutions.

Earlier this year, the Brookings Institution made sobering predictions about the likely impact of COVID-19 on students by the fall of 2020. They predicted that some students would be performing at grade level, while others will have so lost much ground that they would be performing at a lower level than they did a year before.

For English language learners, one of the first challenges teachers now face is to help students overcome the effects of language attrition. Learners who have been out of school for extended periods of time may not have had much opportunity to practice speaking a foreign language, and so their language proficiency will likely suffer. These attrition effects depend on the amount of time that has elapsed since the learner last practiced, and analyses of data Alelo collects from language learners indicates that the decrease is more rapid for students at lower levels of proficiency.

Artificial-intelligence-driven learning can help by automatically measuring each student’s performance level and providing them with the individualized practice they need to regain proficiency. Alelo’s Enskill platform helps learners in this way by putting them in conversational simulations with AI avatars, and measuring both the accuracy of the learners’ language (in terms of objectives that the learners completed) and fluency (in terms of conversational turns per minute) to arrive at an overall mastery score. Learners who continue to practice these simulations typically quickly improve their mastery scores, showing that they are overcoming the effects of language attrition.

These performance statistics are available to teachers, so they can track student progress over time. The performance patterns provide early indicators of students who are having difficulties. Identifying learners’ challenges is particularly critical during the COVID-19 pandemic, when many students must work remotely. Teachers are unable to assess their students’ progress as they would face to face in a classroom due to the physical distance. Teachers can see how much time students are practicing, and whether learner performance is improving as rapidly as expected. Enskill also automatically assigns individualized practice exercises to each learner, focusing on language skills that require improvement.

Alelo will be giving webinars on September 4th and 11th on how to use artificial intelligence to help learners recover ground lost during COVID-19. Attendees will get free access to resources they can use with their students.