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Deep Language Learning
Brain Stimulation
Neurotechnology may play a role in foreign language cur- ricula of the future. A $12 million DARPA grant to Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, MD) and collaborating institutions explores whether the ability to learn a foreign language can be enhanced through modulating the activa- tion of relevant parts of the auditory and speech areas of the brain through electrical stimulation of the vagus nerve (e.g., Engineer et al., 2015).
Brave New Language-Learning World
DNN-powered speech technology is likely to play an in- creasingly prominent role in language-learning curricula. As computational power increases and costs diminish, sim- ulation technology will enable a student to inhabit a virtual language world for hours on end. This is likely the future of language instruction, for there is no better way to learn a for- eign tongue than to reside in a community where it is spo- ken. Will it matter that the language community exists only virtually? Virtual reality gaming devices, such as the Oculus RiftTM, will only improve over time, enhancing their educa- tional potential. Indeed, language learning could become a “killer app” for educational VR. Stay tuned.
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