The Korean Digital Kitchen Jaeuk park

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This page explains in the form of narration how a research project of the Korean Digital Kitchen (KDK) started, what the KDK is, how it works and what the KDK made in relation to Second Language Acquisition.

My name is Jaeuk Park. I started my IPhD course back in 2013. As IPhD students needed to take credit-bearing modules for two years before proceeding onto Research stage, I had some time to think about what topic really interested me. One of my research interests was IELTS (International English Language Testing System) so, I talked to staff who had expertise in the field and led the module of ‘Research Methods for Applied Language Studies’. The module leader was Professor Paul Seedhouse.

Scone Talks

Asked if I can do my IELTS research with him, he said “thanks for your suggestion, but there will be difficulties obtaining data from Cambridge. If you would like to do research with me, there is one way and it is using the Digital Kitchen. What do you think?” A couple of days later, I was invited to iLab, a laboratory for developing appropriate education of applications of digital technology on the day when the Digital Kitchen team organised a research distribution event. Paul talked me through what the research is about and gave me a chance to play around the technology. He said I would be able to learn English, experience the culture and cuisine at the same time while I cook. I was really dubious of the possibility, but while I was there, I engaged myself in the cooking activity. The dish that I made was English scone that I had never ever made or tasted. The computer gave me step-by-step instructions, so I could complete my mission. I don’t think I was able to learn many food-specific vocabulary items on the day. However, there was one thing that made me decide to use the Digital Kitchen for my research. It was the taste of scones in the figure below. You have no idea how fresh and yummy the scones were. So the end-product hooked me up with my research.

Two months later, there was a poster event for PhD students, where every presenter put up his/her poster and get feedback and comments on it. To take advantage of this event, I worked really hard on what my research was about, and eventually made my research public for the first time as in the figure below.

The innovativeness and uniqueness of the research topic was good enough to grab many colleagues’ attention, which helped refine this project a lot better. So, let me explain in more detail what the Korean Digital Kitchen involves.

The Korean Digital Kitchen

The Digital Kitchen is a real world situated learning environment where you can learn foreign languages, cultures and cuisines at the same time. The Korean Digital Kitchen is the expansion of the previous project called the European Digital Kitchen. Now, l will show you how the Korean Digital Kitchen works. There are three essential technological components: digital sensors, Graphical User Interface and an authoring tool.

The first element is digital sensors Each sensor below is attached and inserted into ingredients and equipment, enabling the system to be able to recognize the activity and transmit the information back to the system as users progress throughout the task. This is a technology similar to the one used in Nintendo Wii games, namely activity recognition and sensor technology. Using digital sensors and a task-based language learning approach, the kitchen provides step-by-step instructions through an intelligent audio-visual prompting system supported by state-of-the-art technology. When they pick up an item, the kitchen knows what they are doing. If you collect the correct item, the computer praises, “wow great job!” If you don’t, it says, “hmmm. Would you give it a try once again?” Interesting! This is how you can collect each item before cooking.

Graphical User Interface (GUI)

The second component is a Graphical User Interface (GUI). The tablet computer, with a wireless signal receiver housed in, enables users to complete the cooking task. Users are not able to accomplish their cooking mission without this device. The tablet computer plays a key role in bridging a gap for interaction between human and computer.

The GUI will guide you to every step you need to take to make the dish. From the introduction, steps in Pre-task and During-task to post-tasks.

The GUI display shows several buttons, which you can use

Throughout the cooking session, you will be given a range of learning support tools on request through written texts, audio, images and real objects in the kitchen. This enables you to learn Korean vocabulary items while you are cooking.

The final element of the Korean Digital Kitchen is the Authoring tool. In cases where you need a recipe to make a dish, the computer offers step-by-step instructions. More specifically, there are six taps on the tool, through which two Korean recipes could be born.

It is these three components that are behind the KDK. In the Korean Digital Kitchen, anyone can make and eat an authentic Korean dish in the digital kitchen with their friends. Here are some photos of previous users making two Korean dishes.

It is very enjoyable and so much fun. Furthermore, anyone can learn Korean the language and culture through cooking. So, one stop service for three things at a time in the Korean Digital Kitchen! It is good fun. You might want to have a look at the video showing how users learn to cook and learn how to do it yourself.

Technology Acknowledgements

The design, construction and development of the technology and materials for all versions of the digital kitchens have been made possible by project collaborators at Open Lab, Newcastle University: Patrick Olivier, Anne Preston, Dan Jackson, Phil Heslop, Madeline Balaam, Thomas Ploetz, Saandia Ali, Ashur Rafiev, Clare Hooper, Rob Comber and the late JürgenWagner. The digital kitchen has also begun to be used as a multimodal learning environment, due to an applied linguist's innovative idea: Paul Seedhouse.

Academic Outputs

My research has been able to produce fruitful academic outputs in various ways. First, three papers have been already published and more works is underway. Secondly, this interdisciplinary research has attracted an academic from Oxford University to lay the foundation for global-scale collaboration. As a pilot, the academic and I have conducted a pilot study examining how the digital kitchen can be used as a medium of language and culture learning with young learners. This is widening the range of this research by applying the methods of developing Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching (TBLT) in different tailor-made activities. As a result, the Oxford academic has opened up an online platform where other Asian language and culture can be learned and shared (see the webpage at www.asianlancook.org).

Park, J-U. and Seedhouse, P. (2017). Sight and Touch in Vocabulary Learning: The Korean Digital Kitchen, In P, Seedhouse (Eds.), Task-based Language Learning in a Real-World Digital Environment: The European Digital Kitchen, 233-259, London: Bloomsbury.
Park, J-U., Kiaer, J., Seedhouse, P., and Comber, R. (2016a). Korean Language Learning through Cooking in the Digital Kitchen, IJKLE, 2(2), 197-224.
Park, J-U., Seedhouse, P., Comber, R., and Kiaer, J. (2016b). Physicality and Language Learning. In S. Papadima-Sophocleous, L. Bradley & S. Thouësny (Eds), CALL communities and culture – Short papers from EUROCALL 2016 (pp. 1-5). Dublin: Research-publishing.net. https://doi.org/10.14705/rpnet.2016.eurocall2016.591.

Public Talks

Paul Seedhouse at Oxford University
Jaeuk Park and Jieun Kiaer at Newcastle University
Jieun Kiaer at Oxford


Thus, the Korean Digital Kitchen study has already been making an impact on the relevant academic field and in societal and economic ways in the long haul.

In the sense that the KDK is a real-world learning environment involving cooking, the present study is unique and original in foreign language learning contexts. However, the model of this study has had an issue. The KDK environment needed a huge amount of funds to build as it involves a series of technical devices including electric sensors. At present, the digital kitchen cannot be produced on a large scale; currently only five such kitchens have been built in use in co-working institutions around Europe. Furthermore, it might take much time to develop the design and apply it to the curriculum; it also needs a wide range of research in other systems and skills such as grammar, writing, speaking, and listening in addition to vocabulary learning. Only when these problems can be addressed to a certain extent could this model achieve a wider use. Thankfully, these issues are in the process of being addressed by interdisciplinary collaboration between Professor Seedhouse and a former lecturer Dr Rob Comber at Newcastle University who have been trying to create smartphone apps in an EU-funded project called ‘Linguacuisine’, where app-based technology replaces sensor-based technology. Therefore, the development of the apps is expected to not only reduce the cost of instalment of the kitchen, but make engaging technology available and accessible to a very wide audience in the world soon. I am really really happy to see the constant development of my research.

Come March or April 2018, the app will be ready made for anyone interested to use, which will make yet another significant influence. It is on this app that my research is going to be based on and its affordances in terms of foreign language learning. If you would like to join this research, please feel free to contact me via email at j.u.park@ncl.ac.uk

Personal Thanks

I would like to take this opportunity to thank to the person who brought me here today. It is my supervisor Professor Seedhouse. I thank Paul for his priceless support and guidance throughout this project, and for being such an inspiring mentor in many ways. He took me as his supervisee when I was unprepared and needed a lot of training. He was patient and encouraging enough to take his time out of a hectic schedule to supervise me whenever necessary, spurring me on to complete my academic journey. He has also made me enjoy this work by offering many opportunities of Teaching Assistant, Research Assistant and a book chapter publication. Above all, his strong support for a number of funding schemes in and out of the school have made a big difference in my PhD life. His academic expertise and father-like consideration has brought me here and given me a decent role model as an academic. It has been truly amazing four years!

Our time together in Korea for a conference with Francesca was such a great moment, from which I took away beautiful memories.

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