Artificial Intelligence Translators: The Future of Language Learning?
- 18 January 2022
Rapid improvements in machine translation and speech recognition technologies in recent years appear to offer an easy way out. Technological advancements are enabling us to communicate with people all around the world without needing to have a common language. Applications like voice recognition systems like Alexa (Artificial Intelligence), WeChat and Google Translate can even translate texts between users who does not even speak the same language. Considering these powerful technologies, one may wonder why learning a host country’s native language still is a primary necessity. Although these technologies are very useful for daily functional communications, they cannot replace the rich experience of language learning.
As Doctor Netaya Lotze says – “Artificial intelligence is on the rise…However, some key criteria still need to be met before it can serve as a substitute for a real-life language teacher: spontaneity, creativity and shared knowledge.”
Studying and working at the premier Oakridge International School under Nord Anglia, internationalism, international-mindedness and intercultural understanding are powerful ideas we cultivate in our daily teaching and learning. Learning a foreign language equips an individual towards garnering a culture of international mindedness that supports all members of our school community to develop deep intercultural understanding with a view to creating a better and more peaceful world.
John McWhorter, a linguist at Columbia University, in his TED talk says that “if you want to imbibe the culture, you have to control to some degree the language that the culture happens to be conducted in. There’s no other way.” Learning a language is a window into knowing its culture- the two being intimately entwined. Therefore, a broad consensus agrees that learning a new language will automatically develop our intercultural awareness and international mindedness.
In my many years of working as a language educator and language learner myself, I have experienced and seen how learning another language can improve problem-solving, critical-thinking, and listening skills, in addition to improving memory, concentration, and the ability to multitask. The cognitive benefits of learning a language have a direct impact on a child’s academic achievement. As a student, when I opted French as my second language I realized the real purpose of learning another language is not just to pass the language examinations as a school subject but to use it to open another window to the world. More and more people of all ages are traveling abroad, whether that is for leisure, education or business. As the workplace becomes internationalized, ourselves and our children will benefit and prosper from learning an additional language and embracing different cultures.
By focusing on meaning, rather than form, led me as an educator to a more communicative approach while at the same time drawing me into this big Oakridge family where learning a new language and teaching it makes a difference and marks an important part of the curriculum. At Oakridge, we deploy cutting edge international pedagogical principles, emphasis being given to language learning, interpersonal cultural understanding and instilling social and linguistic transactions.
IBDP and IGCSE segment.