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Google’s new ‘Speaking practice’ feature uses AI to help users improve their English skills

Google is testing a new “Speaking practice” feature in Search that helps users improve their conversational English skills. The company told TechCrunch that the feature is available to English learners in Argentina, Colombia, India, Indonesia, Mexico, and Venezuela who have joined Search Labs, its program for users to experiment with early-stage Google Search experiences.

The company says the goal of the experiment is to help improve a user’s English skills by getting them to take part in interactive language learning exercises powered by AI to help them use new words in everyday scenarios.

Speaking practice builds on a feature that Google launched last October that is designed to help English learners improve their skills. While the feature launched last year allows English learners to practice speaking sentences in context and receive feedback on grammar and clarity, Speaking practice adds in the dimension of back and forth conversational practice.

The feature was first spotted by an X user, who shared screenshots of the functionality in action.

Speaking practice works by asking the user a conversational question that they need to respond to using specific words. According to the screenshots, one possible scenario could include the AI telling the user that they want to get into shape and then ask: “What should I do?” The user would then need to say a response that includes the words “exercise,” “heart,” and “tired.”

The idea behind the feature is to help English language learners hold a conversation in English, while also understanding how to properly use different words.

The launch of the new feature indicates that Google might be laying the groundwork for a true competitor to language learning apps like Duolingo and Babbel. This isn’t the first time that Google has dabbled in language learning and education tools. Back in 2019, Google launched a feature that allowed Search users to practice how to pronounce words properly.

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