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RPI offers Chinese instruction with a high-tech twist

(AP Photo/Michael Hill)

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(AP) - Students at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute are learning Chinese by interacting with avatars in an immersive environment.  RPI is offering a novel six-week course in Mandarin Chinese this summer that uses an artificial intelligence system developed in collaboration with IBM.

Students practice Mandarin surrounded by a 360-degree display system showing computer-generated scenes from China, like a restaurant or a street market. Computer-generated characters are able to engage in dialogue with students and offer feedback on how they're doing.

Lessons are presented as games or tasks, like ordering a meal. The six-week "AI-Assisted Immersive Chinese" course started last week.