Real time earpiece Translator coming out in 2017. Will this affect language learning?

Only to be available for Spanish, French, English, and Italian, I don’t know how we will ever get a Japanese or Korean one, but this is intriguing. It’s isn’t going to affect me in my pursuit of language learning,I want to talk to real people not a robot, but could this put a damper on the efforts of many overall to pursue a language? Could this type of technology eventually be trusted enough to replace interpreter jobs?

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This is inevitable but will take a decade or so to be useful. It also just emphasises the idea that the learner needs to make the journey fun in itself.

Sounds neat. However, if even the best language translation software is still just “okay” when it comes to written stuff that isn’t real time, I think this still has a long way to go.

I doubt it’ll be useful for anything beyond the facilitation of short term needs during simple exchanges while travelling. A business person might use it on a trip while at a restaurant with his clients, or at the shop, but will need to rely on a interpreter when it comes time to do real negotiations. I doubt the device will provide ideal translations for maintaining social relationships, and I think it’ll still be obvious that you need to learn the language when you move to a place.

I don’t think anyone is learning, for example, French, because they really wanna just understand what a french person is saying to them in the moment. We learn French because we like the language itself and want to interract and communicate with the culture in that particular language.

Here is my list of predictions when it comes to these devices:

  1. They are of course inevitable in the long term.

  2. They’ll will be useful for specific applications – business, military etc.

  3. They’ll be heavily marketed to the lazy and the entitled.

  4. They will not replace language learning.

  5. Prolonged use will actually facilitate language learning to some extent. Our brains are designed to pick up patterns.

  6. The reliance on them will make us understand each other LESS, not more. Homogenizing communication by using a translator prevents one from truly engaging with another culture.


I want my Babelfish! :wink:

Eventually, probably yes. I read a brochure about an Italian hotel where they trusted Google Translate 10 years ago. The result wasn’t pretty. I also bought a copy of Tom Sawyer recently, apparently by the same translator.

So people already trust this kind of technology. For interpreting sensitive material however I think we are still a long way from products that /should/ be trusted.

As for the pursuit of languages: Professional interpreters already exist, and they don’t deter me now.

Yeah. I suspect that very few people (at least in the Anglo-sphere) learn a language primarily just in order to communicate. If someone wants to communicate…well…English, English and more English is the way to go.

But we want to speak foreign languages because doing so is better than sex and almost as good as vintage whisky!