Answer Key: Conquering babel:

Post and Lesson Plan Here

II. While Reading Tasks

•  Vocabulary

Word Inference

scan |skan|-verb ( scans, scanning , scanned ) [ with obj. ]- look at all parts of (something) carefully in order to detect some feature: he raised his binoculars to scan the coast.

phaser |ˈfāzər|-noun -(in science fiction) a weapon that delivers a beam that can stun or annihilate.

tedious |ˈtēdēəs|-adjective-too long, slow, or dull: tiresome or monotonous: a tedious journey.

redundant |riˈdəndənt|-adjective-no longer needed or useful; superfluous: an appropriate use for a redundant church | many of the old skills had become redundant.

interlocutor |ˌintərˈläkyətər|-noun formal-a person who takes part in a dialogue or conversation.

consecutive |kənˈsekyətiv|-adjective-following continuously: five consecutive months of serious decline.

beguile |biˈgīl|-verb [ with obj. ]-charm or enchant (someone), sometimes in a deceptive way: every prominent American artist has been beguiled by Maine | (as adj. beguiling) : a beguiling smile.

parse |pärs|-verb [ with obj. ]-analyze (a sentence) into its parts and describe their syntactic roles.

prototype |ˈprōtəˌtīp|-noun-a first, typical or preliminary model of something, esp. a machine, from which other forms are developed or copied: the firm is testing a prototype of the weapon.

commonplace |ˈkämənˌplās|-adjective-not unusual; ordinary: unemployment was commonplace in his profession.

Source: New Oxford American Dictionary

Reading Comprehension

True / False

  1. T- “Star Trek” was  a television series in the 1960s…
  2. T-Captain Kirk and his crew wore tiny, computerized Universal Translators.
  3. F- Will Powell is an inventor in London…
  4. T- Each interlocutor wore a hands-free headset linked to a mobile phone, and special  sports goggles.
  5. F- The special goggles displayed  translated text like subtitles in a foreign film.
  6. F- NTT DoCoMo,  is the largest mobile-phone operator in Japan.
  7. T- When Rick Rashid, chief research officer at Microsoft, spoke in English at a conference in Tianjin in October, his peroration was translated live into Mandarin.
  8. F- According to the article, though the three systems are quite different, each faces the same problems.
  9. T- Microsoft’s researchers claim that their deep-neural-network translator makes at least a third fewer errors than traditional systems.
  10. T- Recognizing speech is,only the first part of translation. Just as important is converting what has been learned into foreign words and  into foreign sentences.

IV. Listening Activity   


  1. interface |ˈintərˌfās|-noun- Computing a device or program enabling a user to communicate with a computer.
  2. waveform |ˈwāvˌfôrm|-nounPhysics-a curve showing the shape of a wave at a given time.
  3. fragile |ˈfrajəl, -ˌjīl|-adjective-flimsy or insubstantial; easily destroyed: you have a fragile grip on reality.
  4. statistical |stəˈtistikəl|-adjective-of or relating to the use of statistics: a statistical comparison.
  5. data |ˈdatə, ˈdātə|-noun [ treated as sing. or pl. ]-facts and statistics collected together for reference or analysis. See also datum.
  6. robust |rōˈbəst, ˈrōˌbəst|-adjective ( robuster, robustest )-(of a process, system, organization, etc.) able to withstand or overcome adverse conditions: California’s robust property market.
  7. significant |sigˈnifikənt|-adjective-sufficiently great or important to be worthy of attention; noteworthy: a significant increase in sales.
  8. arbitrary |ˈärbiˌtrerē|-adjective-based on random choice or personal whim, rather than any reason or system: his mealtimes were entirely arbitrary.

Source: New Oxford American Dictionary

While Listening Tasks

  1. T- One  of the most natural interfaces for people is human speech.
  2. F- For the last 60 years computer scientists have been trying to find a  way to  understand and recognize human speech.
  3. F- In the late 1970s there was a major change in the way people decided to do speech recognition.
  4. F- This was work being done at Carnegie Melon University.
  5. F- Speech recognition systems have become  dramatically  better than they used to be.
  6. T- They still make a lot of mistakes.
  7. F- So for example in the  United States when iI call my bank, I’m talking to a computer.
  8. T- If necessary the computer can connect me to a real person if  I have a significant issue that I  want  to discuss.
  9. F- I’m sure you’ve heard of Apple’s Siri product which answers simple questions.
  10. T-MicroSoft Connect has a robust speech interface that allows you to control the interface.