Over the weekend, this video came out. Take a minute to watch.
We already have tools that translate text pretty well (though not perfect.) We have apps that allow you to point your camera at text in a different language and read it in English (if that’s your language of choice.) And we have apps that translate speech through the phone.
Now we’re wearing it.
One of our big elephants in the room when it comes to schools is that pretty much all of us know that you can’t learn a second language with any real fluency or stickiness without being immersed in a culture that speaks that language. And classrooms are, by and large, not built for immersion. We spend hundreds of hours over four years of high school, and five years after graduation, we retain very little of what we learned, especially if we never had occasion to actually use that language in every day life. (A rare event for most.)
I’m not saying that learning a foreign language isn’t a great thing to do. It is. But learning it in school simply isn’t. And now, that argument gets even harder. More important than speaking a foreign language is being understood. That’s getting easier and easier.
Tim Venchus says
Another step closer to the Babel Fish!
Ann S. Michaelsen says
True, but I find that using Skype in the classrooms gives students the opportunity to practice their foreign language skills in an authentic environment. https://annmichaelsen.com/2016/01/07/a-vision-of-educational-technology/
After 4 years of second language in Norway, the students know quite a lot actually! And they also speak Norwegian and English!