Should You Still Learn Spanish or Just Allow a Machine to Do It For You?

by Chief Spanish Learner on April 18, 2012

Another post that addresses the question, If computers can soon translate human speech from one language to another, should people continue to learn a foreign language?

Why Learn Spanish
How many languages can you fluently speak? If you fluently speak only one language, have you ever wished you could speak at least two or maybe even more? What if there was a machine that can do this for you? Will you still go through the rigorous process of trying to learn a foreign language?

The Language Software From Microsoft

According to an article by Tom Simonite, researchers from Microsoft were able to come up with a program or software that can detect and learn your voice and then utilize it to articulate statements in foreign language. This program enables anyone to communicate with people from different countries without having to exert an effort to learn their language. They also cited that this can help language students in their classes and would actually eliminate the need for human teachers. The advantages truly sound promising and enticing! In the article, they included recorded samples of different language versions of one statement articulated by one speaker.

After reading the article and listening to the recordings, I can say that for me, nothing beats a human translator. This program may be able to mimic the sound of a human voice, but it can still fall short of what a real, live person can do. There could be gaps in the intonation which is actually evident in the recordings. They don’t really sound like they were verbalized by just one speaker.

I also have issues when it comes to the accuracy of the translation. What about new words and phrases used by people from a foreign country? How can you be sure that figures of speech, colloquial terms, and even gay speak are translated accurately? They say that the voice and expression are preserved. But what about people from some countries which speak more “passionately” than others do? I read from an article once that people like the Japanese have a tendency to speak rapidly and aggressively than say, the French or the Italians. How do you solve this particular discrepancy?

Humans Are Irreplaceable

Until these concerns are addressed, I stand by my take that humans are still irreplaceable when it comes to verbal communication. It is still recommendable to converse with humans rather than rely on machines. We may grow more and more advanced as time goes by, but the fact still remains that we are the brains of this world and the creators of these machines and programs. So ultimately, we still are the most efficient “machine” and communicator of all!

This guest post was written by Niña Angeli Pilapil.

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