2 technologies shaping modern language learning that will blow your mind.

Jan 10, 2017 6:00:00 AM / by Britta Wilhelmsen

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Technology is the future, and boy do we know it here at Mango. It already plays a huge role in the ever-changing world of language learning, from long conversations via Skype to informational podcasts on a Sunday afternoon. While we’ve already adapted to many of these tech products and know how to use them well, there are still other technologies out there that you might not even be aware of. Here are a couple that are truly paving the way for the future of language learning.

Virtual reality.

If you’ve ever played a video game or sat down in one of those crazy roller coaster simulators, you’ve experienced a form of virtual reality. Essentially, it’s a type of computer technology that seeks to replicate a real-world environment (or an imagined one) while the user feels as though they are physically present in that setting. Virtual reality systems use sights, sounds, and even touch to make the simulated environment seem as real as possible for the viewer. That’s why we’ve dubbed it language learning’s next best friend.

There’s a common belief that becoming fully fluent in a language requires you to spend time in a country where that language is spoken - that is, a true immersion experience. However, many people don’t have the time or resources to do so, and that’s what inspired Tony Diepenbrock to create his San Francisco based startup Learn Immersive.

Learn Immersive wants to give people an alternative way to get that same immersion experience from the comfort of their own home. The virtual reality system provides users with a realistic environment based on actual locations around the world - the Great Wall of China, Ghirardelli Square, or a store in Puerto Rico, to name just a few. Users can then interact with the virtual environment, selecting different objects and translating text. These simulated language-learning worlds are known as “Virtual Field Trips,” with the idea that field trips provide a real-life context for what is learned in the classroom. We’ll admit it - our inner child can’t wait to give this a try.


Natural language processing (NLP).

If you were as impressed as we were to hear about how virtual reality is changing language learning for the better, wait till you hear about the possibilities with NLP, or natural language processing. Without getting too technical, NLP is a specific area of computer science that uses artificial intelligence to enable computers and humans to interact. The goal with NLP is for computers to understand natural human language, analyze it, and produce a specific output - whether it’s a voice response, a translation, or a grammatical breakdown of a sentence.

Natural language processing is a form of machine learning - basically computers that can learn without being programmed. On a very basic level, we use machine learning during our everyday language practice (Google Translate, anyone?) but scientists are working to develop even more advanced systems. What does this mean for language learners? Imagine being able to have a real conversation with your computer in your target language, or receiving instant grammar feedback and help with difficult vocabulary. Let’s just say the future is bright, and we can’t wait to explore the possibilities.

 

Emerging technologies like virtual reality and natural language processing might be the future of language learning, but we know you’re excited to start right now. Even though Mango doesn’t come with a virtual headset or a talking computer (yet), we’ve got your back with over 70 language courses to choose from - and it’s fully digital. Check to see if Mango’s offered in your local library for free, or download the app to learn from anywhere in the world. Now that’s technology we can get behind. Click "Find Mango" below to find out if Mango is available near you!

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Topics: Language Learning and Culture

Britta Wilhelmsen

Written by Britta Wilhelmsen

Britta is a University of Michigan graduate, currently living and working in the vibrant city of Buenos Aires, Argentina. When she's not busy teaching English to business professionals or writing for Mango, you can find her enjoying the sun in one of Buenos Aires' beautiful parks and/or studying Spanish in her free time. Like many mangos, she believes that language consistently makes life more colorful.

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