What’s the secret to improving Japan’s somewhat notoriously poor English-speaking levels?
More English conversation schools? Native speakers installed in every elementary school? Speed-learning courses?
No, it would seem to be small robots in the home.
At least, that’s what Casio is hoping. Lesson Pod is another “cute” electronic companion. While it might be too much to call it a “robot”, the waterproof “lesson partner” is ideal for talking with at home, even in the bath, and draws on a dedicated app and Casio’s various dictionaries and language resources.
It can help you practice pronunciation, play vocabulary games with you, teach you grammar, and answer questions in English.
We do have some concerns that people will really be able to improve their English by just talking to a small inanimate object that is programmed to respond to certain questions. Moreover, the “English” on the Lesson Pod website is not even accurate: Do you have the time? OK, It’s Ten a.m.
Next time Casio might want to hire some professionals to do its publicity! On release from February 24th, Casio is expecting to produce 3,000 units in its first month. It is currently retailing at around ¥30,000, which is something like 2-3 times the price of a decent electronic dictionary or the cost of a few private English lessons.
And if Lesson Pod lets you down, you can always trust translation software like Google Word Lens to come to the rescue.