Adapting to Change: Tips for Language Pros as Universities Close Language Departments Due to AI

February 28, 2024
Adapting to Change: Tips for Language Pros as Universities Close Language Departments Due to AI

The landscape of language learning and translation is undergoing a profound transformation. Universities worldwide are reporting declining enrollment in traditional language majors, a trend that raises critical questions about the future of the translation and interpretation industry.

This shift, driven in part by the rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI), is reshaping the demand for traditional language learning, compelling language professionals to reconsider their roles in a rapidly evolving digital world. Today, we will discuss how language professionals can adapt to the AI revolution and thrive in this ever-changing market.

The Current Landscape

The current educational landscape is undergoing a significant transformation, particularly within the realm of language studies.

The recent announcement by Duksung Women’s University to halt new student recruitment for its German and French language departments highlights a growing challenge within language education. This decision is not isolated but is echoed by similar moves at other institutions, indicating a broader trend of diminishing interest in traditional foreign language majors.

This shift is occurring against a dynamic backdrop of rapidly advancing technology, which is increasingly being integrated into language studies. Such integration suggests a pivot in educational focus and methodology, with profound implications for language professionals.

As universities adapt to changing demands by incorporating more technology into their curricula, language educators and translators must navigate this evolving landscape, which demands a reevaluation of their roles and skill sets in a technologically driven world.

Read more: The Top Ten Reasons Why Studying Foreign Languages is More Important Than Ever

Impact on the Industry

The sweeping educational shifts witnessed across universities globally have a profound impact on the translation and interpretation industry. With the increasing reliance on real-time AI multilingual capabilities, translation programs must adapt to these challenges and leverage them into traditional roles played by human translators and interpreters.

This technological advancement, while offering efficiency and scalability, brings to the forefront a critical debate regarding the indispensable value of human expertise in capturing nuances, cultural contexts, and emotional subtleties in language that AI cannot fully replicate.

As AI technologies continue to advance and permeate the industry, professionals stand at a crossroads. There is an urgent need for a thoughtful reevaluation of how human skills can be integrated with and complement these technological advancements.

Read more: Will AI Replace Human Translators?

Opportunities Amidst Challenges

In the face of the challenges brought about by technological advancements and shifting educational priorities, the language services sector is witnessing the emergence of new and exciting opportunities. Fields such as localization, cultural consultation, and AI-enhanced translation services are not only growing but thriving, reflecting a significant demand for nuanced and culturally aware language services that go beyond mere word-for-word translation.

This evolution underscores the imperative for language professionals to broaden their skill sets, incorporating technological proficiency with their existing linguistic expertise. Mastery of digital tools, understanding of AI applications in language processing, and an acute awareness of cultural nuances are becoming critical assets.

Such diversification not only enhances employability in a competitive market but also enables professionals to contribute more profoundly to a globalized and technologically interconnected world, where communication remains at the heart of human interaction.

Strategies for Thriving in a Changing World

We have written below some tips and advice from some of the language professionals on how you can thrive alongside the rise of AI and large language models. 

Skill Development

Like any other industry, it’s imperative for continuous professional development. The integration of emerging technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and big data analytics into the fabric of translation and interpretation practices offers a substantial competitive advantage.

By proactively embracing these advancements, language experts can not only refine their existing skill sets but also position themselves at the forefront of industry innovation. Furthermore, pursuing certifications in specialized domains of translation and interpretation, particularly those areas less susceptible to automation such as legal or medical translation, presents a strategic pathway to unlocking new professional growth opportunities. 

Career Diversification

Career diversification presents an exciting frontier for language professionals seeking to leverage their expertise in new and innovative ways. By exploring roles that intersect language skills with other disciplines, professionals can tap into a myriad of opportunities that extend beyond traditional translation and interpretation.

Content creation for burgeoning digital platforms, teaching languages through cutting-edge educational technologies, and engaging in international marketing and communication strategies are avenues where linguistic prowess is invaluable.

Additionally, the burgeoning field of user experience (UX) research for global products demands a nuanced understanding of culture and language, opening up a niche where language professionals can significantly contribute. These diversified career paths not only enhance professional versatility but also align with the evolving demands of a globalized and digital marketplace.

Networking and Professional Development

In today's ever-evolving language services landscape, the importance of building and maintaining a robust professional network cannot be overstated. Engaging with the language services community and adjacent fields through workshops, conferences, and online courses plays a pivotal role in a professional's ability to stay informed about the latest industry trends and technological advancements.

Such active participation not only fosters professional development but also ensures that language professionals remain at the cutting edge of their field, ready to adapt to new challenges and opportunities in a rapidly changing environment. Cultivating these connections and continuously enhancing one's skill set is fundamental to thriving in the competitive world of language services.


As the educational and industry landscapes evolve, embracing change, investing in lifelong learning, and exploring new opportunities are essential steps for thriving in the global market. The journey may require stepping out of comfort zones, but the rewards—career resilience, growth, and fulfillment—are substantial.

For language professionals facing these educational and industry shifts, the message is clear: the time to act is now.

Assess your current skill set, explore learning opportunities, and consider new paths that leverage your language expertise in innovative ways. One way of achieving this is by staying up to date with the latest trends and news in the language industry by checking out our blog, Translator’s Hub.

By Clarriza Heruela

Clarriza Mae Heruela graduated from the University of the Philippines Mindanao with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English, majoring in Creative Writing. Her experience from growing up in a multilingually diverse household has influenced her career and writing style. She is still exploring her writing path and is always on the lookout for interesting topics that pique her interest.



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