The Edtech Podcast: how does tech affect language learning?

#99 – language learning as test for future edtech

What’s in this episode?

Technological change is exponential, which means it will only impact our lives more and more quickly. Among the aspects of our lives undergoing change, language usage is one of the factors being altered most drastically. New technologies also create new opportunities for learning. This is a great example of seeing both sides of change: how we must adjust and what we can take advantage of.  

This week we are looking at language learning and tech. Current estimates suggest that there are over 1 billion people learning English worldwide. Recent predictions also suggest that those learning English as a Second or Foreign Language will double by the year 2020 to nearly 2 billion people. But how we learn languages is changing. Apps, MOOCs, Chatbots and online tutoring services have all worked to reduce the time and investment needed to pick up and master a language, whilst voice recognition services like Amazon Alexa or Google Home have made practicing languages even easier right in your home. At the more extreme end, some advanced technologies have even brought into question whether learning a language in the traditional sense will be needed in the future. And should it be humans or machines testing second language acquisition?


Sophie Bailey

Sophie is the founder of the iTunes new and noteworthy, The Edtech Podcast. The mission of The Edtech Podcast is to improve the dialogue between ‘ed’ and ‘tech’ for better innovation, through storytelling. The podcast is downloaded 1500+ times a week, from up to 109 countries with the UK, US & Aus in the top three. Sophie is a mentor and advisor within the edtech community, and if she’s not interviewing a university lecturer, school leader, ex-Angry Bird, NGO, or investor about education innovation, she’s chasing her three-year-old around the park or binge-reading Homo Deus.

Twitter: @podcastedtech

Denis Hurley 

Denis Hurley leads the global Future Technologies programme within the Advanced Computing and Data Science Lab (“The Lab”) at Pearson. The Lab applies advanced computing and data science to create innovative software capabilities, processes, and frameworks that improve our digital products, advance our digital ways of working, and change how we approach digital education. The Future Technologies programme is a pan-Pearson, cross-disciplinary, collaborative community of hundreds of colleagues, that has completed over 40 prototypes and roundtable discussions.

Twitter: @denishurley

Andrew Ochoa 

As CEO & VP of Product Development, Andrew oversees all business operations and product development of the Pilot Translating Earpiece and Pilot Speech Translator app. Andrew founded Waverly Labs in 2013. Prior to this he worked on sales and product teams for tech start-ups in Austin, TX and New York, NY

Twitter: @andrewochoa81

•    Waverly Labs

•    Pilot Translating Earpiece

William Goethals 

William leads the manufacturing and supply chain for Waverly Labs’ pilot earpiece, as well as firmware and electrical engineering. William joined Waverly Labs in 2014. He has brought 15 products to market specializing in manufacturing, firmware, hardware and software integration.


Bill Bonk

Bill has a joint PhD in Cognitive Psychology and Cognitive Science, and a master’s degree in Second Language Studies. His interests and work have been in growth modelling, data visualization, learning and memory for sequences, foreign language psycholinguistics, and second language teaching and testing. In addition to the US, Bill has lived and worked in France, Italy, Ecuador, Japan, Hawaii, and Brazil.


Nathan Harris

Nathan leads User Experience (UX) teams in the UK, USA, India and Poland, in the iterative conceptualisation, development, design and evaluation of products and services. Together they develop compelling and effective user experiences that combine technology and content in ways that engage and delight learners and teachers.


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