Essay on “Computers Can Translate All Kinds of Languages Well. Do Our Children Need to Learn More Languages in The Future?”
Technological developments in computer-assisted learning have made it possible and easy to translate languages. These developments minimize the need for children to learn foreign languages. However, this approach would not be beneficial to children in terms of developing their cognitive skills as they grow into adulthood.
Admittedly, computers can translate more languages than humans can. However, Miyamoto (2000) explains that computers do have difficulties in translating languages precisely. Computer-aided language programming is generally rigid and does not always offer a true interpretation of the translated languages. On the contrary, human learning is creative and dynamic, and children are better placed to translate one language to another far more accurately than a machine. For this reason, computers cannot replace the benefits associated with children learning a foreign language.
Also learning a foreign language is one of the most practical ways to learn about other cultures. A computer can only translate, but it cannot teach a child or anyone about another culture. Replacing the cultural learning process with a computer would serve to alienate children in a way that can jeopardize their socio-cultural skills. When children learn a different language, whether at home or in the classroom, they can ask questions, get answers and become better informed. Baker (2005) explains that multilingualism helps prepare children for a global, multicultural world. Children who learn a foreign language are better placed to cope and integrate with other cultures.
One might argue that learning a foreign language is time consuming, and children could engage in other activities. However, this approach tends to diminish the benefits that learning a foreign language can have on a child’s cognitive processes. O’Dea and Mukherji (2009) observe that young children who speak a foreign language are able to learn faster than their monolingual peers in other subjects.
The benefits of computer-aided translation cannot be overlooked. People are now able to translate written documents and spoken words into multiple languages at the click of a button. However, it is paramount that children are encouraged to learn a foreign language for the benefit of their personal development.