Programming and modern languages collaborate to create a new dialect

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Emily Kern Arts Editor The Computer Science Seminar Series continued its spring term campaign with a collaboration with the modern languages department. The unlikely interdepartmental combination showed how much potential modern languages have in the programming world. Beyond improving translation mechanisms (which, granted, could still be very useful), modern languages and computer science can team up and improve the glaring language learning shortcomings. One such example is Associate Professor of Russian Kristin Peterson-Bidoshi’s virtual reality (VR) game, which seminar goers were eager to see in action. Currently in early development but making significant progress, the game took 3D models to create a Russian town. Upon setting up the VR, students would be given a list of items to find, the catch being that the list is completely in Russian. Peterson-Bidoshi hopes that the VR’s immersion will help improve Russian language, students’ literary and oral fluency. The remainder of the seminar dissolved into discussion over what language fluency truly entails and what the future holds for programming with respect to language learning. While language fluency is often simplified to having thorough oral, verbal and literary understanding of a language, there was a general agreement that fluency goes beyond just language. Fluency must also incorporate cultural appreciation. As far as how programming can assist in improving fluency, the computer science world has much to explore. It is clear that there is a great amount of untapped potential for future computer science and modern languages collaboration. Future projects could include cultural immersion or more effective language exercises. Perhaps we will see more innovative teaching techniques, or maybe there will be better programs for language and grammar recognition. As far as any of the students and professors could tell, most ideas have yet to be flushed out.

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