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Why Learn Spanish When I Could Use AI? Conversa Spanish Institute

Why Learn Spanish When I Could Use AI?

AI for translations isn’t really that new. Google Translate, Babbel and so many other machine translation sites have been around for a while now. If you ask any Spanish teacher, they’ll tell you that they’ve been learning how to adjust teaching methodologies to adapt to the changing world. AI might be getting smarter, but there’s no way a computer can replace the benefits of actually learning Spanish and being able to speak. It isn’t enough to use AI if you want to effectively communicate in Spanish because a lot is lost when you take out the human connection.

AI doesn’t understand colloquialisms

With a supercomputer in everyone’s pockets, it’s tempting to think that translation machines or AI could get us through every mess. That simply isn’t true. AI can only do what it’s programmed to do, which means you have to know exactly what to ask it. This may seem rather straightforward, but it’s actually pretty tricky! Which dialect of Spanish does the other person speak? AI doesn’t always take into account colloquial expressions, or often brutally mistranslates it.

In the grocery store the other day, a couple approached me and asked for help finding a particular dessert. I had never heard of this dessert, and I didn’t speak their language. When they put their word into the translation machine, it translated to a swear word in English. The term they used was a colloquial Armenian expression that the translator didn’t know, and the couple was so accustomed to this word that they didn’t know a different term to ask me.

You’re tied to the computer

If you think you can use AI to travel around to Spanish-speaking countries, think again. You would be forced to use your phone for everything. If your phone dies, you are lost without any way to communicate. It’s also not a great way to make friends or truly meet new people since every single part of the conversation has to be typed out and read, leaving a lot of awkward pausing in the air.

Plus, you can’t tell someone’s natural inflections or their personality that shines through spoken conversation. When you use AI, you take all of the humanity out of a conversation. The book Futureproof by Kevin Roose details how we can navigate all of the changes in the “Age of Automation.” He suggests that in order for humans to continue to thrive, we need to keep in touch with humanity. There’s often a reason people feel drawn to an item that’s handmade even if it costs a little more than a manufactured one; humans love feeling connected to other humans. Therefore, learning to actually communicate in Spanish will always provide the most authentic connections that AI simply can’t replicate.

Are there ever benefits to using translation engines?

Of course, there’s a time and place for everything. In a pinch when you need to know a certain word or conjugation, translation engines can be useful. They could also support educational pursuits and help you learn. Keep in mind that just like other technologies, it can be a supportive tool, but it can never replace the genuine connections that languages create.

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