A Reverse Turing Test: Is Good Language Teaching Robot-Proof?

To make them easier to find, several items originally included in the now-defunct ‘This Week in Language Teaching’ series are being reposted over the next few weeks.

The always brilliant Gene Glass provides a list of jobs that are “0% Automatable” (cannot be done by a robot) and “100% Automatable.” He uses the list to examine what schools teach and the future of our economy, but it is a question you may want to ask of your own job.

Robots and computer software can very efficiently deliver traditional “drill and kill” in language arts, as Frank Smith pointed out. A Korean researcher has just discovered that robots work wonderfully on mindless (and utterly ineffective) tasks like phonemic awareness training, and someone in Japan is looking into “pedagogical machines.” But does it take a human mind to provide compelling language input? I think the answer is “yes.”

Perhaps we need a sort of “Reverse Turing Test” for language teaching: If an observer can’t distinguish what you’re doing in the classroom from what a robot can do, you’re probably doing the wrong thing.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email