Lecture by Per Urlaub & Eva Dessein, March 4, 2022

Per Urlaub, Associate Professor, Middlebury
Eva Dessein, Visiting Assistant Professor, Middlebury

From Disrupted Classrooms to Human-Machine Collaboration? The Pocket Calculator, Google Translate, and the Future of Language Education

In this talk we argue that consumer-oriented machine translation (MT) software applications are disrupting foreign language (FL) education. To mitigate this impact, we offer guidance on how to transform teachers’ perceptions of online translators. This process is a critical precondition for the gradual and thoughtful implementation of online translators in the FL classroom. The first part of the talk defines the concept of disruption and uses the pocket calculator as a historical example to illustrate challenges and solutions for an educational setting that was fundamentally impacted by a new technology. In the second part, we turn to the present and focus on the impact of online translators not only on ways humans communicate across languages in authentic real-world settings, but also on the FL classroom. In the third part, we argue that a careful recalibration of educational objectives that include the students’ ability to engage effectively in tasks that rely on human-machine collaboration will provide an opportunity to integrate online translators and related technologies into foreign language curricula. To this end, we propose that future generations of language learners need to develop specific competencies that will qualify them to collaborate with online translators and related technologies. We conclude by outlining future leadership priorities for professional organizations and teacher training programs while acknowledging the limitations associated with the integration of MT technologies into language learning environments.

Respondent: David Gramling, University of British Columbia
Respondent: Laura Sterponi, UC Berkeley

Friday, March 4, 2022
B-4 Dwinelle (in-person RSVP) and via Zoom (register here), 3-5pm

If you require an accommodation for effective communication (ASL interpreting/CART captioning, alternative media formats, etc.) to fully participate in this event, please contact Victoria Williams at 510-877-4002 x19, victoria@berkeley.edu, with as much advance notice as possible and at least 7-10 days in advance of the event.