Friday, August 6, 2010

Hello. My name is Hal and I'll be your teacher today.

I remember reading a few weeks ago about a British school using translation software to teach ESL students. This concerned me on several levels, not all of them linguistic.

Of course I’m concerned about the quality of the education these students will be getting, and I’m concerned that this will not help them learn English despite the fact that they live in an English-speaking country, but it also speaks to another disturbing trend in our society. The slow disappearance of human interaction. Instead of focusing on their teacher and their fellow students as they learn the days’ lesson, these students will be focused on a computer screen. On an avatar.

I can hear Felicia Day protesting, and as a nerd I agree with her. I’m not opposed to computers, games, avatars – but I don’t think children should spend their developmental years doing nothing but stare at a computer screen. Maybe I’m just too old fashioned. Right or wrong, I’m sure to be horrified by many similar stories in the months and years to come.

As I said, this post: Electronic Translation in the Classroom, is a month old. Today I went looking to see if there were any new articles about this topic, but instead I found something else. Something… just as?... more? disturbing.

More on that on Monday.

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