What is Speech to Speech Translation?

No longer in the realm of science fiction, the concept of a real-time universal translator is currently in the works as pioneering companies such as Google and Facebook are acquiring and developing technologies that support speech recognition, language translation, and speech synthesis. In 2006, an advancement that led to the development and use of layered models of inputs, termed deep neural networks (DNN), brought speech recognition to its highest level of accuracy yet, clearing the way for speech-to-speech translation. As a result, today’s consumers are habitually interacting with voice-activated virtual assistants on their mobile phones and even in their vehicles with greater ease and comfort. Researchers are now applying DNN to automatic translation engines in efforts to increase the semantic accuracy of interpreting the world’s languages, and Microsoft engineers have already demo-ed software that can synthesize an individual’s own voice in another language, from English to Mandarin. Progress in machine learning technologies is bringing the universal translator closer to the consumer’s hand, and is poised to transform communication and collaboration at the global level.

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1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

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  • - nuria.desalvador nuria.desalvador In the context of Secondary Education in general, and EFL in particular, it is currently very easy to use only English when sharing a wiki with students. Both the teacher and the students know they can use an electronic translator and that this will not be time consuming. My guess is that the moment speech translators are widely used the same will happen with voice documents. Speech-to-speech translation can changed the concept of flipped classroom, multiply the use of OERs and boost informal learning.
  • In basic and general education speech-to-speech translators will challenge current foreign language learning. If anything you say can simultaneously be interpreted in a reliable manner, perhaps even including the intonation/emotion this will remarkably enhance communication and collaboration across countries and cultures. There are no limits to what this may mean to our communication cross-cultural communication. Today we're discussing whether children should learn typing instead of hand writing. in close future, we'll be wondering whether writing is needed anymore. - tiina.sarisalmi tiina.sarisalmi Oct 25, 2013

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • ~~~~ How we teach phonetics and pronunciation and its relation to writing will have to be reconsidered, if we want to make sure we make our students competent in different languages.
  • Closely related to this is text-to-speech and speech-to-text engines. In ten years time, do we need to type anymore, as we can speak to our computer and it transforms the speech into text, and, simultaneously, into text and speech in any chosen language. - tiina.sarisalmi tiina.sarisalmi Oct 25, 2013

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on European schools education?

  • This will change both core curriculum and methods of teaching and learning fundamentally. - tiina.sarisalmi tiina.sarisalmi Oct 25, 2013
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(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

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