Talking kitchen helps your French
Published 24/10/2011 | 16:26
A "talking kitchen" which delivers cooking instructions in French has been developed to aid language learning.
The kitchen tracks a user's actions with Wii-like motion sensor technology and speaks in a similar way to a car's satnav.
Designed for schools, universities and people's homes, it could be available by the end of next year.
Project leader Professor Paul Seedhouse, from the School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences at the University of Newcastle, said: "By international standards, the UK is low down on the league table when it comes to learning languages - a problem that inevitably has an economic impact.
"We believe that simultaneously developing skills in a country's language and its cuisine will help reverse the trend."
The kitchen is fitted with a computer which allows users to select the French recipes they want to follow. Digital sensors built into utensils, containers and other equipment communicate with the computer to ensure the right instructions are given at the right time.
At any point the user can ask for an instruction or piece of information to be repeated, or translated into English. Three portable versions of the "talking kitchen" consisting of the computer and a set of sensor-enabled equipment are now being prepared.
These will be installed at Newcastle College, where the technology was trialled, and at the Institut Francais, a London-based charity dedicated to teaching French.
"An overriding objective is to make language learning more enjoyable, more effective, and by linking it to the development of another life skill, more educational too," said Prof Seedhouse.
The cost of adding the technology to an existing kitchen is between £2,000 and £3,000.