Symposium on

Robots for Language Learning

12-13 December 2018

Koç University, Istanbul, Turkey


In recent years social robots have shown great promise as tutors and teaching aids. Education has come under pressure to deliver a more personalised, one-to-one experience., but this has been difficult given the increased classroom diversity and budgetary pressures. Robots might provide a way forward, especially for topics where one-to-one tutoring can have large returns, such as language learning and second language learning.

This symposium aims to bring together people interested in how robots can support education. We welcome views from educational and developmental psychology, pedagogy, artificial intelligence and robotics.

The symposium is also the closing event of the L2TOR project, which studies how social robots can teach young children a second language.

Call for abstracts

We invite 2-page abstracts on topics, studies or results related to the symposium. Abstracts will undergo a peer review and, if selected, authors will be given the opportunity to present work as an oral presentation or a poster presentation. The deadline for submissions is 5 November 2018, although manuscripts will be reviewed when they are sent in. Accepted papers will be published in the symposium proceedings.

Authors are requested to use the ACM template, available as Word or LaTex. Please used the sigconf template. The "CCS concepts" or "Keywords" section can be left empty. We accept Word and pdf files.

Please send your submission to


Participating in the symposium is free, but if you have not submitted a paper to the conference we request you complete an application form first. Only when your application is approved will you be allowed to participate. We welcome applications from academics and industry from a wide range of fields, including linguistics, pedagogy, cognitive science, social robotics, artificial intelligence, Human-Computer Interaction, Human-Robot Interaction.

All authors of accepted papers will be invited as participants.

Registration is now closed, if you would still like to participate please contact Tony Belpaeme (


Wednesday 12 December 2018

11:00 - 11:30: Registration / coffee

11:30 - 11:45: Prof İrşadi Aksun (Vice President for Research and Development) and Aylin Küntay (Dean of the College of Social Sciences and Humanities) - Welcome

11:45 - 12:30: Tony Belpaeme - Robots for learning

12:30 - 13:30: Lunch

13:30 - 14:15: Manuela Macedonia - Virtual trainers teaching second language

14:15 - 15:00: Raphael Tassart - Business opportunities in social robotics

15:00 - 15:20: Pieter Wolfert, Mirjam de Haas, Paul Vogt en Pim Haselager - Exploration of automatic child-robot engagement measuring

15:20 - 15:50: Coffee

15:50 - 16:10: Cansu Oranç, Junko Kanero, Sümeyye Koşkulu, Tilbe Göksun and Aylin Küntay - How do you see the robot? The effects of learners’ perception of the robot

16:10 - 16:55: Stefan Kopp - Socially intelligent behavior for learning in human-robot interaction

16:55 - 17:15: Hatice Köse, Duygun Erol Barkana, Hazım Kemal Ekenel, Selma Yilar - An Affectively Aware Assistive Robotic Platform for Rehabilitation of Deaf Children

17:15 - 17:35: Nils Tolksdorf, Ulrich Mertens, Katharina Rohlfing - Multimodal response behavior of children during word learning with a robot

19:00 - 22:00: Conference dinner

Thursday 13 December 2018

09:00 - 09:45: Paul Vogt, Mirjam de Haas, Jan de Wit, Bram Willemsen, Emiel Krahmer & the L2TOR team - Social robots as second language tutors: interaction design for a large field study

09:45 - 10:30: Paul Leseman, Ora Oudgenoeg-Paz, Rianne van den Berghe, Josje Verhagen & the L2TOR team - Social robots as second language tutors: results of a randomized field study and prospects for education

10:30 - 11:00: Coffee

11:00 - 11:20: Rianne van den Berghe and Mirjam de Haas - Children’s anthropomorphism of a robot language tutor and the relation with language learning

11:20 - 11:40: Christopher D. Wallbridge, Rianne van den Berghe, Daniel Hernández García, Junko Kanero, Séverin Lemaignan, Charlotte Edmunds, Tony Belpaeme - Using a Robot Peer to Encourage the Production of Spatial Concepts in a Second Language

11:40 - 12:25: Katharina Rohlfing - How children can not only learn language with robots but also to critically reflect their interaction with this technology

12:25 - 13:25: Lunch

13:25 - 14:10: Aylin Küntay - Role of social interactions in early language learning: Challenges for robots as interactants

14:10 - 14:30: Meruyert Jakipbekova, Assylbek Danyshbek, Akmaral Tokbergenova and Anara Sandygulova - Exploring Short-Term Memory for Language Learning with Always-Winning and Always-Losing Robots

14:30 - 15:00: Coffee

15:00 - 15:45: Matthijs Smakman and Elly Konijn - Considerations on moral values regarding robot tutors

15:45 - 16:30: Severin Lemaignan - Robots for education: from social to non-social, a look at the challenges of tomorrow

16:30 - 17:30: Closing discussion

Location and venue

The symposium takes place on the Rumelifeneri campus of Koç University, Istanbul, Turkey at the Founder's Hall. The Founder's Hall is located next to the clock tower, and is nr 10 on this aerial view.


We cannot assist with booking hotel rooms, but we can recommend two hotels which are close to the campus (approximately 20 minute driving). The Grand Tarabya Hotel is a more expensive hotel but with excellent service, while the Fuat Paşa Hotel a is mid-budget hotel.

Travel information

Travellers to Turkey might need a visa. For most nationalities an e-visa will suffice, this can be arranged in 15 minutes at and costs 20 USD. Note that it is not possible to buy a visa at the airport.

There are two international airports in Istanbul: Atatürk Airport (on the European side) and Sabiha Gökçen Airport (on the Asian side), a third airport has just begun operating, again on the European side.

Travel to and from the airports

A document containing detailed travel advice is available with advice on how to travel from both airports and how to use public transport.

Further advice

  • Get an Istanbulkart for public transportation
  • Have cash for taxi, as cards are not accepted
  • Get taxi from a taxi station instead of hailing a taxi in the street
  • Consider traffic, especially during rush hour your journey might take much longer
  • Pickpocketing and other crimes are not too common in Istanbul though visitors should obviously be careful especially in touristic areas. As mentioned below, be aware that some taxi drivers may try to overcharge from tourists.

Invited speakers

Speakers include


Aslı Aktan-Erciyes (Kadir Has University)

Aslıhan Cura (KoçSistem)

Assylbek Danyshbek (Nazarbayev University)

Aylin Küntay (Koç University)

Bahar Arıcı (Istanbul Technical University)

Barış Akgün (Koç University)

Begüm Özdemir (University of Toronto)

Berna Arslan Uzundağ (Koç University)

Binnur Görer (Boğaziçi University)

Cansu İçöz (Yeditepe University)

Cansu Oranç (Koç University)

Christopher Wallbridge (University of Plymouth)

Demet Özer (Koç University)

Deniz Lefkeli (Koç University)

Didar Karadağ (Boğaziçi Üniversity)

Duygun Erol Barkana (Yeditepe University)

Edanur Aktan (Johannes Kepler University Linz)

Elif Çeliker (Yeditepe University)

Emre Uğur (Boğaziçi University)

Esmee Kramer (Utrecht University)

Ferhat Kutlu (KoçSistem)

Fetiye Erbil (Boğaziçi University)

Fuat Balcı (Koç University)

Hatice Köse (Istanbul Technical University)

Hatice Şeyma Kara (Istanbul University)

Hazal Kartalkanat (Koç University)

Junko Kanero (Koç University)

Katharina Rohlfing (University of Paderborn )

Manuela Macedonia (Johannes Kepler University Linz)

Matthijs Smakman (Hogeschool Utrecht)

Mehmet Onat (KoçSistem)

Melisa Şener (Boğaziçi University)

Metin Sezgin (Koç University)

Mirjam de Haas (Tilburg University)

Nils Frederik Tolksdorf (University of Paderborn )

Ora Oudgenoeg-Paz (Utrecht University)

Paul Leseman (Utrecht University)

Paul Vogt (Tilburg University)

Pieter Wolfert (Ghent University)

Pırıl Cantürk (Koç University)

Raphael Tassart (Zora Robotics)

Rianne van den Berghe (Utrecht University)

Sena Bagin (Koç University)

Severin Lemaignan (Bristol Robotics Lab)

Stefan Kopp (University of Bielefeld)

Sudenur Güngör (Koç University)

Sümeyye Koşkulu (Koç University)

Sıla Çapkan (Koç University )

Thorsten Schodde (University of Bielefeld)

Tilbe Göksun (Koç University)

Tony Belpaeme (Ghent University / University of Plymouth )

Tuğba Bahçekapılı (Trabzon University)

Ulrich Mertens (University of Paderborn )

Yağmur Damla Şentürk (Sabancı University)

Zeynep Öztürk (Koç university)

Çağlar Akçay (Koç University)

Şule Gökçe Enginarlar (Istanbul Technical University)


Any questions? Please contact Cansu Oranç at for questions regarding attending, travel or local arrangements. Contact Tony Belpaeme at for questions concerning participating or submissions.