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Phones seem to be able to anything these days. Calls are just the beginning – now we can surf the web, listen to music and play games on our handsets too. But those technology pioneers over at Google are preparing the next big thing when it comes to phones: translation. It is building software to translate languages almost instantly – your very own translation machine.

Google are building the software from a combination of automatic translation and voice recognition technology, and aim to have a basic version ready within the next two years. Will it work? That remains to be seen. The existing online translation tools are handy if you want a rough translation, but can’t be relied on for accurate interpreting – as I’m sure many of us have experienced before! The question is: if the people at Google do pull it off, will it spell the end of language learning?

Personally, I don’t think so. First of all, even if you did have a tool like this to enable you to communicate in another language, what about the cultural knowledge of the country that is so crucial? What about the use of slang? What if your machine breaks?! There really isn’t a substitute for learning another language, and although this would be a great tool to help you out, I don’t think it will replace the old fashioned way.

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