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Language defines us. Being able to speak foreign languages is the first step to upgrade your brain, to add social skills and broaden your horizons. Exchanging information with a stranger in a different language can be a very fulfilling experience. It’s as if you would get to step into a whole different world.
In terms of numbers, learning foreign languages has become a widespread activity for the majority of people, with English holding the number one spot in foreign languages learned in the EU followed by French and German. This is a trend that is likely to continue for years to come. It is evolving, changing, faster than we as humans are. Whether it’s self-study books, regular classes or mobile apps, learning a new language is a trend without an expiration date. But what does the future hold for language learning?
Learning languages in the past
The traditional ways of learning are those where one learns from someone else. The most important factor was the human interaction, but as you will see further, the substitutes of this method are taking things to a whole new level.
We also used to learn from books. Writing has also been one of our defining activities as humans. They were widespread, translated, re-translated and brought into the classroom to help the students. But what did they lack? Well, first we could mention the interactivity. You had no feedback from books, nor do you have it now. The downside? Book are boring and they don’t offer any feedback whatsoever.
In the past, learning a foreign language was seen as something high-level. Knowing multiple foreign languages was an advantage as it proved you were highly educated and well-traveled. This sort of people would show off their abilities at social gatherings and amaze everybody in the audience. If apart from English, you spoke French, German and Italian, you were the star of any type of group meeting.
Learning a foreign language – The transition phase
Times have changed. Learning has changed. Nowadays, with the boom of technology, methods of learning a language have become more diverse. While the classic teacher-to-student approach is still the norm, other methods have made their way into our world. Technological advancements are now filling the gaps in the regular type of learning.
We are now facing a transition phrase with new technologies making their way into our lives. Teachers now use devices to enhance our learning experience. From online teaching methods to videos and mobile apps; they all help the modern learner be engaged and fully attentive. As a result, we find it easier to learn a foreign language in the 21st century than ever before.
This exciting new modern era brings out the idea that one can learn on their own. So we turn to the internet. Learning languages online has become one of the most talked-about topics and also one of the most widespread activities in recent years. Learning online caught on and continues to catch on! Now there are apps, videos, free online lessons– at everybody’s fingertips. The only downside would be that you don’t have the human interaction, that connection when you learn face-to-face. The next best thing is Mondly’s Chatbot feature where you can have a conversation in a different language with a virtual character inside the iOS or Android apps.
But this is just the beginning because technology and all its advances are there to prepare you for such interactions. Technology will always empower you to learn faster than ever before and become a better version of yourself.
Language learning in the (near) future
It is difficult to predict the future; except maybe when it comes to language learning. Technology does not have a brake. A quick search online brings up more and more devices with innovative features for language learning. For example, there are mobile apps especially created to help kids learn languages on both iOS and Android.
Also, there are people developing devices that automatically translate a foreign language for you. But there’s still some way left to go until such technology hits the market. Either way, it’s one thing to know a language and another to have a device translate it for you.
In that respect, the most exciting tech in learning languages is VR (Virtual Reality). The first Virtual Reality app for language learning using speech recognition is Mondly. When you start learning, you engage in virtual conversations and actively participate in lessons, with characters that guide you through the learning process. Not only that, but you also receive feedback in terms of your progress, pronunciation, vocabulary suggestions. It is an unforgettable experience that is both fun, and accessible since you can easily do it from the comfort of your home.
The movie Matrix opened the gates to a world where you just plug your brain into a computer and immediately acquire a new language or skill. Elon Musk is one of the most-talked-about names in tech nowadays! What does he have in common with learning languages? Well, he’s developing devices that can be implanted into the human brain, and their end purpose would be to help humans “merge with software and keep pace with advancements in artificial intelligence”. This could open doors for developers to bring lessons straight into your brain! Take a second to let that sink in – at the click of a button, a language would be merged with your brain! (Matrix, anyone?)
So what’s next?
There are more people learning foreign languages nowadays than ever before. Our population numbers are increasing, and so are our demands for learning. Now you learn from the comfort of your home, at your own pace, with your own capabilities. People are getting more and more excited about mixing learning with comfort. And so we see a world where people with access to technological devices (maybe smaller, flatter and more affordable?) will no longer go to classes but have classes come to them in an electronic form. The future of learning languages is thus a bright, fast one. Let’s all hope we get to see this evolution!
The fact is that languages evolve together with technology. Regular classes and books are trying to keep up, but they are losing the race. We already have free lessons online, language applications, YouTube lessons, and so on. In the end, what makes the difference is quality and effectiveness. All you have to do is choose wisely!