Google's new 'Speaking Practice' feature uses AI to help users improve their English skills

Google is testing a new 'Practice Speaking' feature in Search that will help users improve their English conversation skills. The company told JS that the feature is available to English learners in Argentina, Colombia, India, Indonesia, Mexico and Venezuela who have joined Search Labs, the program that lets users experiment with early-stage Google Search experiences.

The company says the aim of the experiment is to help improve a user's English skills by having them participate in interactive language learning exercises, powered by AI, to help them use new words in everyday scenarios.

Speaking Practice builds on a feature Google launched last October that's designed to help English learners improve their skills. While the feature launched last year allows English learners to practice sentences in context and get feedback on grammar and clarity, Speaking Practice adds the dimension of back-and-forth conversation practice.

The feature was first noticed by a X userwho shared screenshots of the functionality in action.

Speaking practice works by asking the user a conversational question to which they must respond using specific words. According to the screenshots, a possible scenario could be that the AI ​​tells the user that he or she wants to get in shape and then asks, “What should I do?” The user would then have to say a response that includes the words “exercise,” “heart,” and “tired.”

The idea behind this feature is to help English-speaking students have a conversation in English while also understanding how to use different words appropriately.

The launch of the new feature signals that Google may be laying the groundwork for a true competitor to language learning apps like Duolingo and Babbel. This isn't the first time Google has dabbled in language learning and education tools. In 2019, Google a feature launched which allowed search users to practice how to pronounce words correctly.

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