What is Real-Time Translation?

Real-time machine translation refers to the process of a computer reproducing the reasoning characteristic of the human mind that allows for simultaneous real-time translation. Translation is based on interpreting the meaning of language or an action, and it takes a lot of work for our brains to conduct this analysis and consider the nuances of the specific situation. While computers have not yet mastered this activity, developments in real-time machine translation are bringing us closer to smarter, reactive, and more culturally aware devices. Currently, real-time machine translation is useful for quickly translating a written work into another language and deriving a general notion of text or audio. Systems have been designed that listen to student speech, and coach (or rate) a student’s speech for pacing, tone, dialect, and accuracy of pronunciation. In the next generation of machine translation, machines will be able to understand and interpret the personality behind speech, text, and gestures. Ray Kurzweil, a major thought leader in the area of machine translation, believes that before 2030, machines will reach a sufficient level of understanding of human written and spoken communications to allow for seamless and highly accurate translation. While not at that level today, the state of machine learning has advanced considerably in the past few years, and now has a great many applications in learning, teaching, and global communications.

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

  • In the near future, I don't. - mrskeeler mrskeeler Feb 1, 2014
  • Translation software continues to improve and is already having a significant impact. Although the quality is not to the level described above, real-time translation and online translation tools are allowing educators who speak different languages interact with each other and converse about educational concepts and strategies. I recently served as a judge for a global education competition and the applications were all in local languages. I was able to use online translation tools to read about school approaches to student-leadership, site based management, community engagement, etc and select schools based on educational merit rather than access to conveying their ideas in a common language. Speech to text real-time translation and analysis is still on the far horizon but the implications of the combination of speech to text, parsing text for meaning, and langugage translation will have an impact on the global community including access to education in ways that will allow for game-changing disruptive innovation. - leslie.s.conery leslie.s.conery Feb 8, 2014

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

  • Not quite the same but real time automated transcription (voice to text), as on TV and in YouTube (English only currently?), is getting better and more accurate. It opens doors to those who are not native speakers of the language or who are hearing impaired. Once the transcription exists it can be machine translated. - roger.blamire roger.blamire
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(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on teaching, learning, or creative inquiry?

  • answered this question under #1. - leslie.s.conery leslie.s.conery Feb 8, 2014
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(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

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