A Systematic Review of Research on the Use of Artificial Intelligence in English Language Teaching and Learning (2015-2021): What are the Current Effects?

Talha Abdullah Sharadgah, Rami Abdulatif Sa'di
Journal of Information Technology Education: Research  •  Volume 21  •  2022  •  pp. 337-377

This study carried out a systematic review of the literature on artificial intelligence (AI) in English language teaching (ELT). The objective was to delineate the current research progress in the field and to further understand the challenges.

The study analyzed articles published between 2015 and 2021.

The qualitative research method was employed. Five steps were taken to steer the review. 200 articles were scrutinized; 64 were retained.

Prior research on AI in ELT has not investigated how the literature is progressing or what areas of AI are being covered. Without a holistic picture, some important research findings could be missed. Understanding how studies on AI in ELT are designed and implemented will contribute to a greater understanding of the existing state of research.

Findings show that there is a promising future for AI in ELT. AI in ELT yielded positive results in terms of optimizing the English language skills, translation, assessment, recognition, attitude, satisfaction, etc. It was also found out that more and more articles on the topic are being published; the mixed research method is the most commonly used, higher education level is the most sampled, students as participants are the most sampled, and most studies developed novel AI-based systems. Various AI approaches have been identified in the reviewed studies, including machine learning, neural network, support vector machine, genetic algorithms, deep learning, decision tree, expert system, natural language processing, data mining, cloud computing, and edge computing. However, AI in ELT is still in its infancy, where little research has been conducted and gaps in the literature are still present, especially in terms of inherent issues related to body language, gestures, expressions, emotions, translation, lack of elaborate description of teaching material used for learning driven by AI, uncertainties and vagueness with regards to what can be considered under the realm of AI, and most authors being outside of the ELT discipline.

This literature review is likely to provide practitioners with an overview of the current adopted technology, research method, instruments and/or tools, educational level, language skill, and the effects reported by the AI-based studies for designing effective systems for the use of AI in their ELT classrooms.

Researchers need to conduct research on AI in ELT along with a detailed in-depth description of the methodology, research design, and the proposed systems used to achieve AI in ELT. Furthermore, it is recommended that researchers explore the efficiency of AI-based systems used in previous research and ensure their relevance and functionality. They are also required to provide in-depth analysis of the challenges inherent to systems that have been highlighted in the literature, which will maximize the potentials of these AI-based technologies.

The findings of this paper can provide visualization of research findings that could particularly benefit researchers, educators, and AI specialists who are involved in the study of the applications of AI in ELT.

Future AI research needs to seriously include more detailed descriptions of the method in further research.

artificial intelligence, AI challenges, English language teaching, systematic literature review, analysis of AI-based articles
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