Yesterday, on my other website, I shared how Google’s new “Project Glass” might soon allow users to receive real-time voice translations of foreign conversations and, thus, render the need to learn a second language unnecessary.
Many people–especially pessimists–immediately grasp how the technology might cause some foreign language instructors to lose their jobs.
This is overly simplistic. I’d also encourage people to think about how the technology might assist instructors in helping students learn new languages. Perhaps, instead of just struggling to learn one new language, people will be wanting to learn a third or fourth language because the technology makes it so easy. And language instructor’s roles will switch from teaching the basics of a language to the more complex and subtle elements. This, however, will require some of them to unlearn how they think about their roles as an instructor.
Beyond this, I’d also encourage people to contemplate how the technology might suddenly open up vast new foreign markets to innovative entrepreneurs and creative small businesspeople. Imagine, for instance, being able to speak directly to your new customers in Hong Kong, Norway, Nigeria or any other country.
The world suddenly becomes a lot smaller and a lot more exciting. It literally opens up a “world of possibilities” and, far from being a “job killer”, the technology becomes a job creator. This, too however, will require people to unlearn their ideas about where their markets are and who their customers really are.