May 2022

This text is an automatic translation from the its original Turkish version:

AI-Powered Language Learning Technology for Agglutinative Languages

As we know, words in Turkish are formed by putting various suffixes one after the other on some noun or verb roots. For example, in a sentence such as ""Hala yakınlaşamadığımız kişilerden misin?"" ("Are you one of those with whom we still cannot get close?"), it is seen that many suffixes are added to the word "yakın" ("close"). One of the most challenging points for foreign language learners trying to learn our language is  the order in which such suffixes should be used and the different phonetic harmony rules.

In recent years, many language learning applications have been released (e.g.: Duolingo, Busuu, etc.). However, these applications are generally developed by considering languages ​​such as English-German in the first place. And basically, they do some interlingual translation exercises using some sentences prepared by hand. However, such exercises do not work well for languages ​​with very complex and long suffixes, such as Turkish. Language learners need to practice a lot, especially on suffix and sound harmony.

At this point, the idea that learning Turkish and similar languages ​​could be facilitated by using artificial intelligence technologies was put forward, and this idea was presented to foreign language learners for the first time in the world by researchers from ITU in a gamified mobile application environment. This technology, in which the exercises are created dynamically, so that the student can practice with different words each time, has been published in the past months by "Computer Assisted Language Learning", one of the leading international journals in this field. A patent application has been made for the project .The project has been led by ITU Artificial Intelligence and Data Engineering faculty member Assoc. Gülşen Eryiğit, the coordinator of the ITU Natural Language Processing Laboratory.

Currently, studies are continuing to support different languages ​​of the application and to increase the supported structures in Turkish. The first prototype tests of the study, which brought an innovative approach to language learning, were made on foreign students and the study was highly appreciated.

New foreign students who will start learning Turkish at the ITU Turkish Learning Application and Research Center (İTÜ TÖMER), which was established with the vision of transferring ITU's unique experience in natural language processing to language learning and starting artificial intelligence-supported language learning research in Turkey, will benefit from this technology during their education. Working as the center director, Assoc. Gülşen Eryiğit gives the good news that the number of such applications will increase in the near future.