Technology changes languages and communication

Technology – Friend and Foe for Languages

Many technologies are making communication easier. A hearing aid helps to hear other people’s voice. A speech synthesizer helps to produce speech. An online chat or a messenger service helps to keep contact with people who are far from you. And so on. We have tons of communication channels and we use them actively every day.

What is strange is that the more we communicate with people apart from us, the less we might communicate with the people next to us. The online communication is mainly written and “silent” in a sense that others can’t hear it. This way a good level of privacy is guaranteed but there are also negative side-effects.

One unfortunate consequence is that the lack of face-to-face communication complicates little children’s process of learning to speak. There are signs that parents’ active use of social media can slow down toddlers speaking skills. YLE (Finnish Broadcasting Company) tells that language and child care professionals are worried about 3-year-old children who haven’t learnt to speak properly. They argue that the lack of face-to-face communication between parents and children are causing this new phenomenon. (Here’s the original article in Finnish.)

Although this piece of news comes from Finland, the situation is probably quite similar in many countries. It’s sad that while the parents are chatting with their social media connections, the kids get less training in oral communication. Both hearing and speaking exercises are important in language learning.

Technology should make communication easier without hurting any group of people. Hopefully, we learn to find the healthy balance between the online and offline communication.

 


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