Google Pixel Buds translates up to 40 languages in real time. How will it affect TEFL?

[:en]We’ve been writing about this subject on other blogs for some time now. Many companies started, about two years ago, the race to create devices which could perform real-time translation. And not just any companies: Microsoft (Skype has such a translator), Google etc. Last academic year opened with the announcement of some future, very promising prototypes.

But we are not talking about prototypes any more. They are already here, among us.

Last week Google -yep, not just any company, allmighty Google – presented their latest earphones: Google Pixel Buds. Apart from many other features, they are equiped with real time translation for up to 40 different languages. They will be on sale from November for about 179€.

So it’s not some future technology, it’s a reality now.

Yes, many will say translation is sketchy, that it will never be able to replace human translation, or at least not soon. How many times has that been heard with a new piece of technology? And it’s always technology which comes out the winner.

This proyect emerges from one of the most funded departments in Google, one of the biggest companies in the world. It responds to a need in society and they have really made it easy to use (just touch your ear bud and speak to it), in a device everyone can carry arround. It is based on Google Translate powered by Machine Learning (a growing field of computers where devices will learn from previous interactions).

As soon as people start buying it in large enough numbers, or China produces their 20€ earbuds, I bet this will be something everyone will carry around.

It is going to impact language teaching to its core.

How will if affect language teaching in Spain?

Who knows… It is obvious people will be needing language translations less in the long run. Less demand means less need for teachers and academies. Many academies are in the business just for money so I hope those will be the first to flee the sinking ship.
Will that be enough to keep it afloat?
Are we talking about the end language teaching….or just an evolution.

Time will tell.  As the Chinese curse goes: “May you always live in interesting times“. And these, for sure are such.

 

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