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Poste Italiane è un AMORE, Traduttrice, insegnante di lingua giapponese, Blogger e Youtuber.
イタリアの郵便局(ポステ・イタリアーネ)を心から愛しています。翻訳者、日本語教師、ブロガー、YouTuber。
I love Poste Italiane (Italian Post Offices). Translator, teacher of Japanese language, Blogger and YouTuber.

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Why Study English and Foreign Languages ​​in an Era of Automatic Translation – The Significance and Fun of Translator Teaching

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train by trees against blue sky lingua - 言語 - language
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Modern age benefited from the Internet

As you know, the Internet has allowed us to do more things more efficiently. Translation is one of them. In this era of Google Translate and DeepL Translate, you can now translate emails, chats, clerical texts, and more at will. It’s easy to predict that these technologies will continue to improve – 10 years ago Google Translate was terrible!! The Internet has made it easier to understand what is written in a foreign language. In the past, I had to look up a dictionary, so convenience has improved dramatically.

Is there any point in learning a foreign language such as English in an era like this? It is said that AI will eventually do the work of a translator, which I am passionate about. In fact, there is even a department called MTPE that proofreads automatic translations. I can confidently answer, “It makes sense.” This article will explain why.

Reason for studying a foreign language 1: To understand the difference in meaning that cannot be conveyed by automatic translation

Of course, there are mistakes in automatic translation. However, the more difficult words are, the more subtle nuances can be conveyed, the more meaningless automatic translation becomes. No matter how much accuracy is improved, automatic translation is not a panacea. For example, two words or phrases B and C written in language A are often returned by machine translation with the same translation E in language D. In such a case, when you are asked, “What is the difference between B and C in language A?”

Reason to study a foreign language 2: Machine translation has limitations

Automatic translators and translators are like guide dogs and blind people. Without a guide dog, a visually impaired person would fall, and a guide dog alone is meaningless. In order for a guide dog to be meaningful and carry out its work, it must be with the visually impaired. Having both will give you a better translation. In automatic translation, mistakes and unnecessary things are sometimes done, but in order to control it and say “this is correct”, language skills are still necessary. In order to prevent automatic translation from running out of control and making terrible translations, it is necessary to have appropriate restraints and to point the way. Even if the accuracy of Google translation and DeepL translation improves, there will eventually be a limit, and there will be a wall that AI cannot overcome. However, without AI, the quality of translation will suffer. Translators use something called CAT Tool every day, which means “a tool for computer-assisted translation”, without which translation work is no longer possible. In order not to rely too much on automatic translation, language skills are still necessary.

Reason to study a foreign language 3: To experience the joy of a never-ending journey

Language learning never ends. It is often said that it started after obtaining N1 in Japanese, C2 in Italian, and HSK 6 in Chinese. At first, reaching the highest level may seem like an unattainable goal, but once you get there, you realize just how much knowledge you lack. I am very happy to be able to continue this endless journey. The only way to describe this enjoyment is to experience it. There are so many things to see and enjoy that you can’t experience unless you go on a trip, too many to mention here.

Reason for studying a foreign language 4: It becomes easier to make foreign friends

If you think you don’t need foreign friends, that’s a waste. Because we live in a small world. When you have foreign friends, you realize how narrow and limited “the world you live in” is. And the hobby community will be bigger – for example, there are clearly more railway fans in Japan and Italy than there are in Japan -. The language barrier is really big.

Reason to study a foreign language 5: Wider range of jobs

If there is a job where a person who can only speak Japanese can send a resume, and a job where a person who can speak both Japanese and English can send a resume, the latter is clearly more common. The translation work I do is only possible because of my language skills. And you can get much better than a job that pays €10 an hour. As with all professional work, the fewer people who can do the work, the higher the pay. And, for example, even if you are a system engineer, if you can speak English, you will be able to apply for a better job in an English-speaking country. And with the ability you have, you can choose the best place to get the job done and work there. It’s difficult to get a job overseas if you can only speak Japanese, but you can greatly lower the hurdle.

Reason 6 to study a foreign language: Because it enriches vocabulary and expresses emotions

When you look at a beautiful flower in front of you and think “It’s beautiful”, if you can think “It’s pretty and graceful”, the range of expression will expand. Being able to reconsider your mother tongue as a foreign language is also a privilege of learning a foreign language. To expand your vocabulary and improve your vocabulary, learning a foreign language can help you remember words you didn’t know. More vocabulary means more emotions. There are some emotions that can only be described as “sad”, but if you know the word “sorrow”, you will be able to better understand the emotion and the movement of your heart.

Reason 7 to study a foreign language: You will be able to see the news from multiple perspectives

When I live in Japan, I mostly watch Japanese news (such as NHK). However, if we have the convenience of civilization called the Internet, we can easily see news from all over the world. You can read news that cannot be conveyed to Japan and news that has not been transmitted across the sea, and you can learn more about the international situation. The world seen by Al Jazeera, the world seen by the BBC, and the world seen by Rai are completely different. And in order to understand it, automatic translation alone is not enough.

Reason 8 to study a foreign language: It’s a brain exercise

If you don’t use your brain, it will age. Learning a foreign language prevents the aging of the brain and leads to the activation of the brain. Learning a foreign language gives us new knowledge – not just linguistic – that feeds us with an insatiable appetite for intelligence. Having the desire to “know more” will not only help you learn a foreign language, but will also give you new possibilities and allow you to absorb a lot of new things. And by making effective use of the brain space that is not normally used, you can acquire effective methods and know-how for other learning.

Reason 9 to study a foreign language: The result will be visible

For example, turning your crush on and becoming your lover is not a problem that you can solve by your own efforts. Even if you wish for world peace, unfortunately you cannot achieve it by yourself. However, when it comes to foreign language learning, you can produce results on your own. It is a field where you can see the results as much as you do your best. For example, I passed HSK Level 4 because I studied for 1000 hours. It will not only help you find a job or enter university, but it will also help you to raise your self-esteem, saying, “I did my best. You can achieve your goals without interference from others. The need for self-actualization is at the top of Maslow’s needs, and the joy of achieving it is exceptional.

Reason 10 for studying a foreign language: Results can be understood in small steps

The certification exam is not ambiguous such as “beginner”, “intermediate”, and “advanced”, but is divided into finer details from “1st grade” to, for example, “5th grade”. Therefore, even beginners can achieve results without feeling that their goals are too high. Also, university entrance exams are usually a one-time chance, and if you miss it, you have to wait for a year. It is relatively easy to obtain. And if you unfortunately don’t pass, you still have another chance. Failure is not the end of life.

At the end

This is not a big deal, but people with high language skills not only get jobs that make use of their language skills (interpreters, translators, language teachers, etc.), but also have the charm of learning a lot of languages. I talked about it here.

However, when I feel the joy of being multilingual the most, and the joy of mastering a language on my own, it is when I listen to music in a foreign language. At first I couldn’t catch the lyrics, I didn’t understand what they were saying, but I still listened to the music of a foreign country with a voracious appetite. The joy of understanding the difference between the two, understanding the meaning of the lyrics more deeply, and being able to hear them naturally is indescribable.

Let’s sail together in the same boat on a never-ending journey.

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