30 May 2014, 8:07am
teaching technology


Welcome to the desert of the real

The march of technology continues


Microsoft announced a new product the other day: simultaneous interpretation over Skype.


Also Google bought Word Lens last week and made all their products free. Check it out and blow your mind.

How can this not impact language teaching and learning?


Oh, and the Google robot cars are one step closer:


“How can this not impact language teaching and learning?”

It definitely will, but the question is how. Also, how much of the effect will be positive and how much negative? Very interesting developments, though, eh!

It’s incredible. The thing to remember is that advances in computer processing and storage are exponential, ie they are still doubling every 18 months are so, so this is only going to accelerate.

The caveat is that of course European languages are much further along than Asian ones, but I presume we’ll catch up soon.

My prediction is that once we have ‘good enough’ machine translation and interpreting, only the following three groups will learn foreign languages: the elite (business, civil servants), people who enjoy it (hobbyists), and people who plan to live in a foreign country. I’ll buy you a beer in ten years if this isn’t true 😉

I’ll take a Guinness. 😉 I don’t think we differ that much on our interpretations on the speed of progress and that it will have some major effects–we do disagree a good bit on what the final result will be, however. That being said, I certainly wouldn’t want to be studying to be a translator right now. I think translation will be hit much harder as it’s more about the concrete product at the end.

As for language learning, you could argue that those studying it now are mostly the elite (or those who would like to become so), hobbyists, and people who plan to live in a foreign country. In that case, maybe you’ve already won the bet. 🙂

Hey Ryan

I would say that 90% of the children at our school don’t fit into any of those three categories, which is why we are going to try a different direction next year 🙂


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