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The shape of things to come? (teachers worried about the future of foreign language teaching)
Thread poster: lingomania
lingomania
Local time: 21:07
Italian to English
Jun 29, 2007

Hi everyone. Don't be scared by the seemingly "catastrophic" title of my topic, but at the end of a recent Cambridge ESOL co-ordination meeting I attended in Rome, some of my teacher colleagues were worried about the future of foreign language teachers. "There will be less and less need for language teachers as time goes on" was the common statement uttered by them. Are these totally groundless fears or is there some truth in it? Thank you.

Robert.

[Subject edited by staff or moderator 2007-06-29 12:57]


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Marcela Mestre  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 08:07
Member
English to Spanish
a maxim Jun 29, 2007

One of my teachers used to say:

'If a teacher can be replaced by a machine, s/he SHOULD!'

Best.
mm


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Claudia Krysztofiak  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 12:07
English to German
+ ...
personal beliefs Jun 29, 2007

What are their statements based upon?
If they have some arguments, figures, historic examples, this could be something worth discussing.

If not, it sounds more like my grandma, who used to say that everything was better in the past. It's more a personal belief then, or a mirror of ones personal feelings about the future.

I have been reading that translator is a dying profession for so long now, that I think, it just follows the rule, if enough people repeat it, it must be true.

Or like Lewis Carrol said in his "The hunting of the Snark":
"Tis the song of the Jubjub! The proof is complete,
If only I’ve stated it thrice."

(Great book by the way! )


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Daina Jauntirans  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:07
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
Disagree Jun 29, 2007

At least in the case of the United States (and in my anecdotal experience), it seems to me that people are finally starting to wake up to the need for foreign language teaching at a younger age. Bilingual and foreign language programs are cropping up more and more in schools. My daughter attends a Spanish-English two-way immersion program in our local school.

I agree with Claudia on this one! I don't think that opinion is based in fact.

[Edited at 2007-06-29 14:08]


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liz askew  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:07
Member (2007)
French to English
+ ...
Foreign Language Teaching Jun 29, 2007

Well, just recently our local Junior School has started teaching French to children aged 7+ (unheard of in the past, when children started learning a foreign language at the age of 11).

Foreign language teaching must be more important than ever, surely......? unless we want to isolate ourselves even more from people from other countries..

I think people will always want to learn a foreign language, it's whether the Education Authorities/Government are prepared to let them...!

I don't believe foreign language teachers will be a thing of the past at all.


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Yaotl Altan  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 05:07
Member (2006)
English to Spanish
+ ...
I hope not. Jun 29, 2007

Maybe it's just a fear. I have heard/read that many translators are afraid of translation machines, as potential substitutes to human translators. I can`t foresee the future but I don't want to have the human factor replaced neither as teacher nor as translator.

I'd like to read why did they think that. Indeed, the India and China economic rising are supposing a good pretext to learn Hindi and Chinese.


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Charlie Bavington  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:07
French to English
Just a tongue-in-cheek thought Jun 30, 2007

liz askew wrote:

Foreign language teaching must be more important than ever, surely......? unless we want to isolate ourselves even more from people from other countries..



Yeah, but only up to point, though, eh? After all, if everyone ends up with the same knowledge of, say, French that we enjoy, no-one's gonna need anything translating. And then what are we gonna do....?


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Claudia Krysztofiak  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 12:07
English to German
+ ...
That's easy Jun 30, 2007

Charlie Bavington wrote:

Yeah, but only up to point, though, eh? After all, if everyone ends up with the same knowledge of, say, French that we enjoy, no-one's gonna need anything translating. And then what are we gonna do....?


of course, then we become language teachers!

(And if the sun falls from the sky, then what are we gonna do ...)


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lingomania
Local time: 21:07
Italian to English
TOPIC STARTER
Very nice reads Jun 30, 2007

To all the people who were asking what their fears are based on, it seems that they noticed less and less teenager language lessons and less teenagers interested in learning a foreign language. Indeed. they didn't take into consideration teaching languages to small children, but I think many of them didn't fancy teaching languages to any person under the age of 10 anyway! I have my doubts whether those teachers base their fears on heresay or "grandma" sayings. Someone above introduced the classic fear of "machines replacing translators"....now THAT is really sci-fi. I FIRMLY believe that there is NO machine capable of beating man at translating..not even the overrated IBMs....let's not forget the clamorous translation by an IBM machine of the Italian sentence into English: "Pulire la pallina del mouse"="Clean the b*lls of the mouse"....."pallina" in Italian would never allude to that part of the genitals! Machines might have beaten the world chess champion at his own game, but they will never come close enough with translations.

Rob


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