Robots Replace Teachers at 21 Schools in South Korea

EngKey, a robot designed to gradually replace native English-speaking teachers, has been rolled out in 21 schools in South Korea so far this year.

EngKey robots were designed to help students with pronunciation of the English language while providing students with the “feeling” of a teacher present though telepresence technology.

The English Jockey aka EngKey in an interactive robot that enables english teachers to teach students from thousands of miles away. Teachers are able to see and hear the students by interacting with the children through a microphone and camera. Although the robot uses a human-like avatar on the screen, the teachers aren’t actually seen, it does however mimic the teacher’s facial expressions by the use of a camera.

South Korea is hoping this program will replace the need for native English-speaking teachers over the course of five years, a cost that the South Korean government says is too expensive and they additionally find challenges with placing teachers in rural areas. These teacher robots are currently being remotely operated by English-speaking teachers in the Philippines.

This year at CES, we got a look at another telepresence robot called AnyBots QB. It’s for video conferencing and sports two 5MP cameras which it uses as eyes to look around the room. It appears a bit like an Segway with a head.

While the geek side of me is wildly excited by the idea of telerobotics, on the other hand, I’m hoping this isn’t the start of a scary new trend in education. Uttering the words “robots replacing teachers” makes me cringe. Although, if you swapped out Engkey’s design with something more like the pic below, you might be able to groom the best behaved class ever.


Source ( TokyoTek)


  1. says

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  2. Chris says

    So Tom you would like to be taught by and under paid person in a 3rd world country speaking through the mouthpiece of a robot huh? Let me count the ways this is a bad idea, software breakdown, power failure, juice spilling on it, loss of emotional connection because the teacher is not with the students. Give me some more time and I will come up with some more. As I read this article I find it interesting that they use teachers in the Philippines to teach the students. I have tried to find out if a Filipino can teach here and it is a resounding no. They only want teachers from native English speaking countries. As if they could teach better. They should stop wasting their time with robots and educate their native teachers better. They would get a better product. Plus it is the mothers that want the native English speakers not the government. You have many academies that miss treat their foreign teachers. I have met nice people who really wanted to help their students succeed but leave the country because their academy miss treats them. To me this is a waste of money. If they would only teach their native teachers better they could have a combined approach. The foreigner could teach conversation, speaking and writing and the native can teach grammar and writing. Plus these robots will put Koreans out of work and allow the Koreans to not learn English. I have friends in Norway and the Philippines. They were taught English by their native teachers. This just seems like a waste of time to me.

  3. says

    Hello Brodie,
    thank you for a well written blogpost.

    You’re right, it could be a worrying trend in education to downsize the budget and get away with unpaid robots instead of human teachers.

    Take care and greetings,