'Yuki the annoying chatbot' photo (c) 2007, Dan Brickley - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Obviously, talking with a “chatbot” using artificial intelligence is a poor substitute for conversation practice with a real human.  In fact, at the level these bots function right now, I don’t think they’re particularly useful for anything than an occasional fun practice opportunity in the computer lab — except for one that I’m aware of, and I’ll share it at the end of this “The Best…” post.

As always, though, I’m happy to be shown a different perspective.

This list shares what I think are the best chatbots out there. I’m going to have my students try them all out later this month, and will report their assessments. The main difference that I can see is that, though most are text-only, the first two provide audio for the “bot side” of the conversation.

Here are my picks for The Best Online “Chatbots” For Practicing English (the first and the last ones are my favorites):

Why not try talking to EFL Classroom’s bot?

My Bot asks questions and answers them by showing text and providing audio through a computer-generated voice that isn’t that great.

During Christmas time, you can talk (text-only) to Santa Bot.

(By the way, I learned about these first two from Özge Karaoğlu, an EFL teacher in Turkey)

You can talk to a virtual Bear Bot

You can talk to a — I kid you not — “Socratic Zen Conversationalist.”

Pasadena City College has developed the ESL Robots Project.  Students first listen and read dialogues related to shopping,  getting an apartment, and dealing with a hotel clerk.  Then, students use the information they learned to “chat” with virtual staff in each of the three settings.  It’s quite an innovative exercise.

I’m now exploring the possibility of having students create their own for their classmates to use. There are some free tools that seem pretty easy to use, like Rebot. And Botsify will also let you create a audio one for Alexa.

Suggestions and feedback, as always, are welcome.

If you found this post useful, you might want to look at previous “The Best…” lists and also consider subscribing to this blog for free.