A phone starts ringing in the middle of class. The teacher pauses her lecture and looks around the room. A student in the back of the room frantically searches their backpack, looking for the source of the sound. “Students, please keep cell phones silenced at all times,” the teacher says.
The sound of a Snapchat notification. Students discreetly look at their laps, hiding their phones under their books in order to keep the device hidden from their teachers. In our current world, the clear impacts of technology are all around us. The man who used to talk to the person next to him on the bus, is now mindlessly scrolling on his phone to pass the time. The children who used to ride their bikes until it was dark are wasting the day away playing video games. The daughter who used to love spending time with her parents now blows them off to stay in her room on her phone. The world is changing around us, and genuine social interactions between people are diminishing. Because of this, it is essential that we value those genuine interactions as much as possible. Instead of relying just on the technology resources that are currently available, learning a second language through immersion and social interactions is a beautiful way to form meaningful connections with individuals all over the world.
In my English class, one item of homework that my teacher assigned was to track our phone usage, how much time a day we spent on each app, and the overall time spent over the course of a week. The results thoroughly shocked me and many of my classmates. While I knew I spent a lot of time on my phone, seeing the numbers made me realize that I could be using that time for more important aspects of my life. I kept thinking to myself, “I wish I spent more time with my family than on my phone” or “I wish I focused more on my schoolwork rather than scrolling for hours on end,”. This realization made me more aware of my technology usage and made me value the time spent with my friends and family, technology-free. With all the technological advancements, especially in the world of language learning, it is easy to rely solely on technology and ignore the benefits of conversing with others. Advanced translation resources make it easy to ask questions such as, “Hey Siri, how do you say ‘What’s your name?’ in French?” instead of remembering that phrase and using it in daily conversations. However, when having a true conversation with someone in a different language, it is impossible to really get a sense of who that person is without knowing fundamental phrases and greetings. Without a general understanding of those things, the conversation will feel unnatural and robotic. Technology is not some great evil, but it can easily make people lose sight of how to have authentic moments of learning with one another.
World language learning is most effective through immersion learning. Completely depending on translation limits the emotions revealed in true language usage, which is a key part of communication. In a growing electronic world, cherishing conversing with others is an essential way to stay connected and understand people around the world. Furthermore, learning basic greetings and phrases allows communication without using technology and creates a more authentic conversation. Language learning can also help people feel more united with a culture outside of their own. Ultimately, the growing technology industry is making it evident that world language learning is important for the sake of making a true connection with people around the world, to achieve a more unified world.
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