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Department of Technology Application and Human Resource Explores Future of Language Education during Japan Academic Exchange Visit

Tokyo, August 30, 2023 - During their Covid-delayed academic exchange visit to Japan's Kanto Region, students from National Taiwan Normal University's (NTNU) Department of Technology Application and Human Resource (TAHRD), led by Professors Chiou-Lan Chern, Yu-Liang Ting, and Tzymei Shih (Dr. A), embarked on a journey with three distinct purposes: An academic visit to Chiba University, a technology lesson exchange with students from The Second High School of Tokyo University of Agriculture, and pilot research aimed at understanding the evolving landscape of language education in the age of technology. This innovative research project seeks to explore the impact of technology on travel-related English, raising pivotal questions about the future of language learning.

The Japan Academic Exchange visit served as a platform for students to immerse themselves in a unique cultural experience while also contributing to an essential discussion about current trends and future directions in language acquisition and the role of technology.

Focused on gathering data related to travel English, students engaged in daily interactions with locals, with a special emphasis on functional, travel-related language usage. The research team aimed to investigate how technology has influenced language use and whether it might change or potentially replace the need for traditional language learning.

Professor Yu-Liang Ting, the lead faculty member of the TAHRD, expressed enthusiasm about the project's implications: "This research offers a unique opportunity to explore the dynamic relationship between technology and language learning. As technology continues to advance, we must critically assess its impact on language education and language use in a globalized world."

Throughout the academic exchange, students utilized a combination of translation apps, the internet, and other communication technology to facilitate their interactions with local residents. Their experiences ranged from ordering food at local eateries to seeking directions from passersby, providing a diverse range of language interactions to analyze. The data collection was done via social media, a platform and format students find most natural in recording and sharing their observations.

The English language advisor, Professor Tzymei Shih (Dr. A), shared insights into the research process: "Our daily interactions were enlightening. We witnessed first-hand how technology has streamlined communication. In some cases, direct human interaction became unnecessary. However, we also observed situations where learning the local language added depth to the cultural experience."

The recorded data is currently undergoing meticulous analysis, with preliminary findings already suggesting intriguing trends. While technology undeniably aids in basic communication, the researchers are discovering that language remains invaluable for building meaningful connections and understanding cultural nuances.

The implications of this research extend far beyond the classroom. The question, "Why do I need to learn another language if technology can translate or do a better job?" is at the forefront of this inquiry. The findings promise to provide valuable insights into the future of language education and how educators can adapt to meet the evolving needs of students.

Dr. Chiou-Lan Chern, former Dean of the College of Liberal Arts, offered her perspective on the matter. "Technology undoubtedly facilitates communication, but it cannot replace the rich tapestry of human language, culture, and emotion," she stated. "The ability to speak another language opens doors to empathy and understanding that no app or device can replicate."

NTNU's TAHRD Japan Academic Exchange visit aligns with the broader goals of fostering global competence among students. In an increasingly interconnected world, proficiency in foreign languages remains a vital skill, not only for effective communication but also for fostering cultural understanding and international collaboration.

As the research project progresses, the TAHRD looks forward to sharing its findings with the academic community and the public. The research team is confident that their work will inspire a nuanced conversation about the role of technology in language education and its impact on our interconnected global society. (Writer: Tzymei Shih (Dr. A) Ph. D, NTNU Department of Technology Application and Human Resource)