'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:

Digital Einstein lets you talk to digital version of Albert Einstein.

SpolinBot is an “improvisational” chatbot. You can read more about it at Move over, Siri! Researchers develop improv-based Chatbot.

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.

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