Barcelona (E), November 2022 - Meta has announced that it has built a speech-to-speech translation system powered by AI that can automatically translate spoken words from one language to another, especially languages that don't have a written form. Currently only partly developed in Israel, the technology is translating languages starting with Hokkien, a Taiwanese language that lacks a standard written form.
Whilst this tool is extremely intelligent and useful for certain languages, Daniele Saccardi, a language expert at Preply, explains why in-person learning is a much better way to develop a second language and why having this skill is extremely beneficial.
"When learning a second language, particularly for the first time, it is better to pick it up in a group conversational setting or perhaps one to one with another person, whether that person be a tutor or a native.
"This is because language learners are often more successful when they learn practically, and putting themselves in a group setting will force them to be out of their comfort zone, make mistakes and learn from them.
"Studies have found that language learners who practice speaking outperform those who learn via comprehension exercises where there is no oral practice. Particularly those who learn in the native country of that language are able to pick up particular native words and phrases they may not understand through technology based learning. Even at a very basic level, the evidence is clear: it's common to be on holiday in a country where a different language is spoken, and within a day or so, you find yourself picking up native phrases without even really thinking about it."
Daniele highlights some of the key benefits that come with speaking a second language:
- "There are numerous career benefits of learning a second language. With a number of companies expanding globally, speaking another language can allow you to develop career opportunities and make you appear much more employable than people who aren't bilingual. For example, non-native English speakers looking to work in international companies will find that some level of fluency in English is a requirement. This can even apply to technical roles, where many would consider language skills to take a backseat.
- "In our recent study looking into the correlation between language and wealth, we found that, interestingly, international sales managers in the UK earn almost as much as lawyers do, as a law-related salary was revealed to be £51,446, potentially due to the sales manager role requiring a second language.
"We also found that au pairs in the UK earned, on average, £39,000, with 32,000 of them located on LinkedIn."
- "Speaking a second language has significant societal benefits, allowing you to connect with people from other countries and cultures. Some of the most meaningful and interesting relationships we can make come with breaking the language barrier."
- "There are also several cultural benefits of learning a second language, as it can help you understand the way people from other cultures think.
"For example, in the UK, a common saying to greet people is to ask 'How are you?' However, in Thailand, it's common to ask 'Have you eaten rice yet?' It's another way of checking that you're well because a full belly is equal to contentment in Thai culture.
"These small quirks of language and culture can be the foundation of incredible relationships and can bridge the gap between one side of the world and another."
- "One of the lesser-known reasons why learning a new language is good for you is that it can improve your memory and multitasking skills.
- "One of the many health benefits of learning a second language is that you need to quickly access information and transition from language to language, which according to studies can help with the prevention of dementia in later life.
- "There are cognitive benefits of learning a second language, too, such as increased attention control, better working memory, and stronger abstract and symbolic representation skills.
"Mastering a second language can even make it easier to learn others, too, as your brain is trained to identify new patterns.
"Essentially, you begin to think outside the box and expand your horizons when it comes to ways of communicating, which explains why many learn another language after their second."