Korea has a shortage of affordable English teachers, but the Philippines have plenty, so the South Korean government instituted a $1.3-million pilot program to bring instructors to the classroom through robotic avatars called Engkeys (a portmanteau of English and jockey). The robots, at just over three feet tall, are being used in 29 classrooms across the southeastern city of Daegu. They’re preprogrammed to dance and play games, and are remotely controlled by the Philippines-based teachers. “The kids seemed to love it,” Kim Mi-Young, an official at Daegu’s city education office, told news agency AFP. The robots also feature a flip-up LED screen that bears the image of a Caucasian woman that, through motion-detection technology, mimics the facial expressions of instructors a country away. The government is still planning to send a $9,000 Engkey to every one of the country’s kindergartens over the next two years.
Invasion of the Filipino robots
Engkeys will be controlled by teachers in the Philippines and will teach English