The Week in Review: June 30, 2023

Language learning is tough. But maybe ChatGPT can make it easier.

At least that’s what some language learners and app developers are trying to see. In a recent report for BBC News, a Spanish learner and tech reporter takes a look at the ways in which language learners are leverage recent innovations in artificial intelligence (AI) to improve their skills in their target language.

This week, we’ve also got blog posts and press releases from Weglot, XL8, and Translate.One to add to your reading list.

Got news you’d like to share in next week’s Week in Review? Send it over to our editorial team here

Students switch to AI to learn languages (via BBC News)

Language learners are discovering generative AI’s potential to improve their language skills. It’s not surprising, considering the fact that Duolingo integrated GPT-4 into one of their paid subscription tiers. 

In this piece for BBC News, reporter Christine Ro talks to fellow language learners about how they’re incorporating it into their learning strategy — from using it to get a better understanding of regional variations to asking for grammar and vocabulary corrections.

“Developers have been quick to jump on this wave of interest, and there are now numerous apps that have drawn on open-source code to customize AI for language learners,” the BBC’s Ro writes. “These can be more appropriate for learners than general chatbots like the virtual companion Replika.”

Does your child speak a language other than English? California preschools want to know (via EdSource)

California — long at the forefront of bilingual education in the United States — is making efforts to document the languages spoken among the state’s preschoolers.

Beginning this year, parents of preschoolers attending a state-subsidized school will be asked to complete a questionnaire about the languages their child understands and speaks with family and other members of their community. It’s part of an effort to foster and support students’ bilingualism, which was mandated after the passage of Assembly Bill 1363 in 2021.

Exit Hector, Again and Again: How Different Translators Reveal the ‘Iliad’ Anew (via The New York Times)

The Iliad is a classic work of literature that’s been translated into English roughly 100 different times over the course of the last four centuries.

In an essay for the New York Times, translator Emily Wilson — who’s got a forthcoming translation of the work herself — takes a look at what different translators have brought to the table, and how literary translators bring their own interpretation to the work. She also provides a fascinating side-by-side examination of different translators’ works over the centuries.

Spanish Royal Academy rejects changing language to anti-colonial ‘Ñamericano’ (via NBC News)

Most English-speakers use one word to describe the language spoken throughout Spain and Latin America: Spanish. In the language itself, it’s commonly known as “español” (from which the English, “Spanish” is derived) or “castellano,” depending on the region you’re in. 

But an Argentine author has proposed “ñamericano” as a new option — one that he thinks everybody should be using. He says it’s a more apt name for the language, since the vast majority of the language’s speakers were born and reside on the American continent.

Though it’s largely a fringe opinion, that proposal made its way up to the Spanish Royal Academy earlier this week — read more on their decision to strike his proposal down at NBC News.

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