What does the (distant) future of language acquisition look like?

General discussion about learning languages
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Le Baron
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Re: What does the (distant) future of language acquisition look like?

Postby Le Baron » Fri Apr 09, 2021 3:09 pm

We might do well to remember that 1950s/60s technological optimism also promised things like this and it came to nought. Instead of the state-of-the-art house à la Fahrenheit 451, we got badly-constructed concrete flats with broken lifts. The modern 'hi-tech' bicycles being sold at multiple times the price of older all-steel bicycles (which are still on the road btw), are near-impossible to repair and are junked within a few years. The trend has continued with super internet-age technology leaving a huge number of people with essentially fancy dial-up internet sold as optic fibre.

It only takes a cursory look around to see that even though there have been some excellent technological advances, the application of them is so often a total failure or instead of improving your life makes it ten times harder. Usually because it costs too much for someone to make a huge amount of money. Hence the reselling of ordinary tat with heavy reliance upon PR/advertising spiel.

The only completely useful things I have as a result of technological advance are LED lightbulbs, my computer, digital piano and microwave/combi. The rest are either overpriced rubbish or more a nuisance than a help.

On the languages front, I don't want it delivered into my lap for a monthly fee.
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Re: What does the (distant) future of language acquisition look like?

Postby Beli Tsar » Fri Apr 09, 2021 3:59 pm

I wonder if the changes of the last couple of decades will look even larger in retrospect than they do at the moment? So that whatever helpful improvements are to come, this will seem like the moment where things jumped forward? As has already been mentioned, easy access to foreign TV, news, tutors, books, and everything else really is groundbreaking. Add that to lots of free courses and resources I can access for free, and the world looks very different to what it was fifteen years ago. I just think of how I first tried tackling Farsi, as a student in a good university with Iranian friends and the library of a good language centre and a renowned Oriental Institute to boot, and it all seems totally inadequate compared to what I could do here the second time round, sitting in my junk-strewn loft in a random city.

New technologies always promise a lot, but they are always so much further away than we think. I'm no great critic of Duolingo, but it really seems like it's only just beginning to live up to its initial plans and promise. AI has been talked about for so long, but is only beginning to be workable.

Doubtless there will be some clever developments down the road, but cumulative improvement of the gains of the last couple of decades will make a big difference. Another couple of decades of more good free audio, more helpful SRS decks, more easy-to-access high quality texts, and lots of easily accessible TV would be great.

Consolidation - both in terms of the quality of different tools, and in the approaches to using them would be great. I wonder if we are seeing a little of that here: the wildly experimental days of HTLAL may not have been replaced by a consensus on how to learn, but certainly a good toolkit of widely agreed useful approaches has. We

Certainly for self-learners, the emergence of good platforms where you can learn how to learn is no small thing. Thanks, LLORG.
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Re: What does the (distant) future of language acquisition look like?

Postby Dragon27 » Fri Apr 09, 2021 4:29 pm

rdearman wrote:The distant future is probably just a chip embedded behind the ear which automatically translates languages and transmits them directly into the brain as a native language stream of sounds.

Cenwalh wrote:I was going to say that perhaps people would still want to learn a language to watch TV in the original language, but then I thought perhaps deep fakes would be used to make actors say what's in the translated dub.

It doesn't actually matter what the future translation technology is going to be like. It's still just that - a translation. Language learning pursues a different goal - direct understanding of foreign speech (including all the associations, patterns, ways of expressing semantic nuances, etc.). That can be only achieved by rewiring your brain (through prolonged consistent practice). Directly uploading kung-fu skills Matrix style into your head is just a fantasy, as far as we aware. Human brain is not a PC storage device with an operating system.
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Re: What does the (distant) future of language acquisition look like?

Postby einzelne » Fri Apr 09, 2021 6:31 pm

It will look exactly like the (distant) past of language acquisition: "If someone accuses you of being 20 years behind in your methods, just answer: "That's wonderful. It means I'm 10 years ahead of you." ("On the mortality of language learning methods")

It would be silly to deny that the Internet and digital technologies democratized language learning (although the implimentation of digital methods in SLA leaves much to be desired) but I've always been baffled by techno evangelism.

Hi-tech fitness trackers alone won't make you slim and fit. Gym membership and a top notch coach either. Hard work, sweat and tears will.
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Re: What does the (distant) future of language acquisition look like?

Postby Cainntear » Fri Apr 09, 2021 7:15 pm

einzelne wrote:It will look exactly like the (distant) past of language acquisition: "If someone accuses you of being 20 years behind in your methods, just answer: "That's wonderful. It means I'm 10 years ahead of you." ("On the mortality of language learning methods")

Indeed, and this thread starts with what is in effect Decoo's prediction of the return of the language lab in digital format, even if slightly late.
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Re: What does the (distant) future of language acquisition look like?

Postby Iversen » Fri Apr 09, 2021 9:23 pm

In a not-so-distant future the deposits of rare-earth elements, lithium and other key ingredients in rechargeable batteries, sular cells and other clever inventions may be depleted, and then we are back at learning languages from books and human beings. If humankind still exists then, that is, and I'm not sure about that.
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Re: What does the (distant) future of language acquisition look like?

Postby lysi » Fri Apr 09, 2021 9:35 pm

It can be interesting to think about language learning and the future but there won't be any language learning if the future is just one giant English-speaking blob which seems to be in the realm of possibilities.
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AUTO FILL

Postby EGP » Sat Apr 10, 2021 9:20 am

Lots of diverse replies.

If I had to choose two that ring true for me, it would be the computer chip behind the ear and deep fakes.

1. You hear what they say as they say it really.
2. It plays the translation.
3. You speak the language you feel comfortable.
4. It plays the translation.

After having it play enough times you will eventually just say what you think the computer would say. So you end up copying the computer.

OR much more scarier space might exist.

1. You only hear a buffer language. They themselves are already trying to say what they think the computer would say.
2. You end up replying back in something of a similar buffer language.

Everyone has been hearing only what the computer has taught them, and doesn't actually know what Chinese used to sound like. etc.

---

or I imagine something like 'minorty report' I think that was the movie where all the computer screens showed you personalised screens where ever you went in your day. Bit like google ads where you see an add on another site after you were looking to buy so and so.

---

This complex app could to some extent know what you want to say before you say it. And if like with these pandemic days, we depend on computers to do all our commmunicating... You might even let your responses go on auto-pilot for mundane stuff. Instead of wasting time, saying Ni hao ma? It just does its salutations to save you time.

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Re: AUTO FILL

Postby smallwhite » Sat Apr 10, 2021 11:39 am

EGP wrote:Instead of wasting time, saying Ni hao ma? It just does its salutations to save you time.


Real email from work, name changed:

best regards.jpg
best regards.jpg (32.31 KiB) Viewed 1776 times
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Le Baron
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Re: What does the (distant) future of language acquisition look like?

Postby Le Baron » Sun Apr 11, 2021 12:56 pm

I don't think I have ever written or received 'best regards' at the end of an email or a real letter. Who actually says 'best regards' and why? It was never standard English in the UK.

'Kind regards' (which I've actually received a few times) is another which seems to have a vague meaning to me. Do they mean 'best wishes'? Even that I reserve that for actual best wishes like a birthday or at a push to someone I know more informally. 'Regards' seemed to turn up when I was first using e-mail in the late 1990s and (in the UK at least) it collapsed into 'cheers' on the informality scale.

I get the feeling people don't really know how to sign off in an email because it's in a no man's land between a letter and 'chat'. :lol:
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