教員のリレーエッセイ:英文学科 助教 ジェニファー・グリーン

Language Learning in the Age of AI ?/AI時代における言語学習?

My name is Jennifer Green. I am an assistant professor in the English Department. I am in charge of running classes regarding the 4 skills of English: reading, writing, speaking, and listening. Recently, AI software has been all over the news in America, and will be in the news more and more in Japan as well in the upcoming months and years. So, I would like to discuss something important we must contemplate.
Why learn another language in the new world of AI computing? After all, if the goal of learning another language is that of communication, it can now be relatively easily accomplished with any internet connected device. Translations no longer sound unnatural and confusing, but well-spoken and clear. Even with years of study and practice, it is incredibly difficult to get to the same level that an AI can produce immediately. And yet, many still advocate for language learning. In fact, when asked directly, the AI program ChatGPT said that “Yes, people should still study foreign languages even though it is possible to translate using AI,” (2023) citing three main benefits to studying languages: improvement in communication skill, deeper understanding of culture, and increase in cognitive ability.

First, our communication abilities increase when we learn another language. We learn how to express ourselves in different ways from how we would in our native language(s), and we learn how to overcome limited language expression to communicate what we wish to say. Moreover, we learn more deeply about our native language(s) themselves by noticing the differences between the languages we know and the ones we learn. Second, there is no denying that language study is deeply connected to culture. Each culture has concepts and items that can only be fully understood in that culture’s language. When we study a language, we also learn the body language, idioms, and other such cultural nuances connected to the language. Finally, the most advantageous point of learning another language is the improvement of cognitive ability. When you study another language, you learn to conceptualize things in new ways that you may not have even realized possible. You learn how to be flexible with your thinking in general. which increases your ability to solve problems as a whole.

There is a reason that foreign languages are so often required as general education subjects, even in countries where the majority of learners will never need to use that language after their education finishes. By studying languages, we increase other skills such as communication, cultural competency, and cognitive ability in general. With these benefits, it is no wonder that even an AI software itself recommends learning another language. So even while we continue to use AI and translation software to aid in communication, let’s remember the importance of language study!

※The Japanese version of this essay was made with the support of ChatGPT.
ChatGPT. (2023, April 4). How do you cite an answer in ChatGPT. [Response to user question]. Retrieved from [/chat.openai.com/chat/].


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