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End of the Road for ESL?

 
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backtothefront



Joined: 02 Sep 2012
Posts: 48
Location: uk

PostPosted: Sat Nov 10, 2012 12:38 pm    Post subject: End of the Road for ESL? Reply with quote

Have a read of this article:-

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/microsoft/9667149/Microsoft-developing-instant-translation-tool-that-works-like-a-human-brain.html

Surely this kind of technology will impact on our industry? Microsoft say they are years away from a product launch. This device recognises intonation.

Can an understanding of cultural 'schemata' be translated? No.. so maybe its not such a big threat after all.
It's the perception of the learner/potential buyer that is the problem here which came up often during teaching:-
ESL learner: I can translate this essay from Korean into English with google translator, why I need to learn English??
Teacher: Mmm..Where to start?

What do you think?
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Kofola



Joined: 20 Feb 2009
Posts: 148
Location: Slovakia

PostPosted: Sat Nov 10, 2012 3:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A very interesting find!

I'm not sure how much this would impact. Certainly, there will be major fans in some quarters.

But then again, English is being taught at such a young age these days that in the future virtually all adults will speak it. Many of my students actually speak very good English but they continue studying it, partly because being social creatures, they just enjoy it, but there's also a certain amount of kudos involved. Good English = higher status. (In this part of the world at least.)

Secondly, despite all the technology we are all very human deep down and although we use all the new technologies, we seem to be quite selective and they really haven't replaced face-to-face communication. Take videoconferencing for example. My students clock up serious mileage travelling from one capital city to the next. Videoconferencing saves significant amounts of time and money and yet when it comes to serious money contracts, the negotiations are always face-to-face. Even if they have to drive 10 hours through heavy snow to get there. This makes me wonder how people would respond to this. No matter how good the technology, you are still having your conversation through a machine.

As a teaching tool, though... VERY interesting....
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johnslat



Joined: 21 Jan 2003
Posts: 12790
Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA

PostPosted: Sat Nov 10, 2012 4:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You mean you guys don't already have one of these?

http://www.cygnus-x1.net/links/lcars/blueprints/sftm/03-02-04-s.jpg

Regards,
John
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ultraman111



Joined: 17 Sep 2011
Posts: 144

PostPosted: Sun Nov 18, 2012 3:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ha ha john

may the force (and spok) be with you
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fluffyhamster



Joined: 13 Mar 2005
Posts: 2730
Location: UK > China > Japan > UK again

PostPosted: Sun Nov 18, 2012 5:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There's more on this over on Language Log:
http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=4312

McLanguage Technologies' Osmoglot (TM) got there first though!
https://sites.google.com/site/englishdroid2/miscellaneous/the-osmoglottm
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Glenski



Joined: 15 Jan 2003
Posts: 12844
Location: Hokkaido, JAPAN

PostPosted: Mon Nov 19, 2012 6:48 am    Post subject: Re: End of the Road for ESL? Reply with quote

backtothefront wrote:
Microsoft say they are years away from a product launch.
Translation: light years away.
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 9580
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Mon Nov 19, 2012 7:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I doubt that this, or any other techie idea, will ever be 'the end of ESL'. The main reason for this is precisely 'doubt'. To use any sort translator device requires a huge investment of trust especially if you speak not one word of the second language. And so far nothing has been created that has earned that trust. Look at the absolutely dreadful online translators to get an idea of how everything can go so very wrong.

So, as Kofola remarks, language learners seem to be more willing to stick to more traditional, tried and trusted, ways of communicating, whether that be face-to-face business meetings, or face-to-face English lessons to actually learn the language, than to (mis)place trust in dubious devices.

So, until some bright spark figures out a way to help re-wire human brains and insert language files a la 'Code 46', I do not see any road blocks ahead on the shining path that is an EFL career : )
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