Will language learning become obsolete?
It is true that technology could make us believe that learning languages will one day become obsolete. Indeed, there is more and more research to find solutions to translate in real time from one person to another through headphones for example.
However, technology is not a reliable enough solution to be able to do without knowing several languages.
Nevertheless, many products are being developed to facilitate translations, some applications such as skype already use real-time translation software. Online translation sites are available with Google for example but they are becoming more and more powerful being even capable of translating legal texts : this is the case of DeepL which translates not only words but also expressions.
Moreover, it will not transmit emotions during a conversation and it would be a shame to come to automated and emotionless linguistic exchanges.
Learning languages allows us to get to know other cultures better but also to know ourselves better because many studies show that our personality can change when we speak a different language and you yourself can feel it.
In this way you will also not always be able to understand if the person who is speaking to you, for example in a convenience store in Asia, is speaking to you aggressively or if he or she is simply cheerful. This can sometimes lead to a misunderstanding if the situation gets out of hand - it is better to know how to speak a few words to resolve the conflict.
SOMETIMES IMPOSSIBLE TRANSLATION
Sometimes there is simply no equivalent for the word you want to say in another language, for example "Saudade" in Portuguese has no equivalent word in English to translate it. It is the same thing for the expression "Spleen" used in France and the two are almost related because these expressions express a feeling, a state of mind related to melancholy.
TECHNOLOGY IS NOT ALWAYS RELIABLE
Indeed, if the internet connection is not good enough for your application or your earphones to work, sometimes you may not have any battery left when you need it. Even if we are very advanced in technology and with artificial intelligence we are becoming more and more advanced, there is still a margin of error and a risk of bugs of any kind.
THE IMPORTANCE OF KNOWING LANGUAGES
This is why it is preferable to learn several languages because you will not always find people who can speak English, for example if you go on holiday to a small village in Asia and you rent accommodation on Airbnb that the person who receives you does not speak a word of English and you do not speak a word of Mandarin it will be difficult to communicate because even if English is the universal language it does not mean that everyone speaks it.
It is not even the most spoken language in the world to say how much we overestimate its importance. English is essential but it is not enough to be comfortable in other countries and to be able to speak comfortably with people.
What is advisable and can be really useful is that when you go to visit a country where you don't know the language, research the phrases that will be useful to you, such as finding your way, asking for something, etc...
You can also listen to recordings while you sleep to retain the basics of the language and you will then be more confident to travel to that country.
FOR LANGUAGE EXCHANGES
Technology will surely be an asset to help foreigners communicate with each other and have language exchanges more easily. What must be understood is that technology must be seen as an aid, not a substitute. Thinking that technology will always be there to help you in any situation is a mistake.
But it can nevertheless help you considerably in your learning process.
In short, technology will help us and will make us make a lot of progress as always, but it will not replace knowledge, knowledge, mastery.
On the one hand because it is above all a personal satisfaction and an improvement of our cerebral capacities and our memory but also because from a personal point of view it brings an enrichment that no technology can ever replace.
Secondly, because technology, even if it makes life easier, is also a problem because it leads most of the time to social isolation and individualism.
When you will be able to understand a word spoken in a market deep in Asia you will have the satisfaction of having made the necessary efforts before your trip to be closer to the local culture and people.
If you have a different opinion on the subject and want to talk about it with people who have a different culture from your own and therefore a different opinion you can go to the language exchange section of our Studenz website and research the type of person you would like to exchange with.
Written by: Lisa Lambert, Staff Writer
- Learning Languages
- 19 Feb, 2020
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