Scholarship Opportunity: Italki's "Future of Language" Challenge for $1500 (Essay Topic Prompts!)

One of the best parts of our ever-growing language community is the abundance of language-related opportunities that have come about. This ranges from study abroad or exchange programmes to the little things like "langjam" or other social media community challenges.

This month, with 10 days remaining to apply, Italki has launched a promotion scholarship hoping to encourage language learners to consider the "bigger questions" about language learning, very similar to gladly global's mission of deepening the discourse around language and culture! Needless to say, we are very excited about the challenge and hope to help spread this kind of attitude throughout the community. In this article, we will explain how to enter, and some prompts to get you thinking about what you could write.

"We’re looking for creative, original submissions who can clearly articulate themselves while presenting their opinion and arguments. We’re not looking for perfect grammar or spelling, and you don’t have to be a native English speaker to enter. However, your submission must be in English."


  1. The scholarship is open to the public (including non-italki users and italki teachers). italki employees and immediate family members are not eligible.

  2. Submissions must be written in English and are limited to 1 per entrant. The first submission italki receives will be considered final.

  3. Submissions must be the original work of the entrant and all submissions will be checked for plagiarism.

  4. Submissions must be sent to in a Word document or a PDF file.

  5. The scholarship winner will be announced in early May.

  6. The scholarship prize money will be transferred via PayPal or bank transfer. The scholarship winner must provide his or her bank information in order to complete the transfer.

  7. For Honorable Mentions, $100 italki Credits will be deposited into each winner’s Student Wallet by mid-May. If the submission was sent from a non-italki user, he or she will need to create an italki account in order to receive the italki Credits.

  8. All submissions become the property of italki. In accepting the scholarship prize, the winner agrees to allow italki to publish his or her name and essay.

  9. If any dispute arises before, during, or after the competition, the decision of italki will be final.

  10. Submissions close on March 31, 2020, 11:59 pm Pacific Standard Time.

Though we can't write your essay for you, we would love to help give you some ideas for those who are struggling to come up with a thesis. Not only is it good to use your imagination, but it is also great to reference some things that have happened in language innovations in recent years.

1. Electronic Translator Electronic dictionaries and AI translators are not particularly new, but recently with the invent of pocket translators able to not only understand nuanced speech but vocally translate instantaneously, the use of language learning has been questioned. How will these new devices change how we learn languages?

2. English: the international language. English has long evolved passed its originally means and usages. Countries around the world have adopted English as their proclaimed second language, morphing it with their own cultures, accents and idioms. The same can be said with colonial English speaking countries that have thousands of miles between them, left to evolve English in completely different ways. How will the use of an international language affect language learning? Will or should English be omnipresent in public sphere and education systems?

3. Entertainment and its growing intersectionality.

K-POP, J-POP, Latin America-- and many other "ethnic" music genres are making a BIG impression on mainstream music. The use of language experts and translators may move in this direction, as poetry and human emotion are much less likely to be accurately translated by a machine. How do you see this affecting the language learner and how we use language?

4. The role of the translator We touched upon this in several other points, but the role of the translator has already taken on a lot of evolution. Not only are the ways we translate changing, but the modes and the platforms are changing too. We have translators checking sentences for google, and performing intonation quality control. We have translators that provide marketing insight, and cultural context-- the entire process, as many other things, are becoming a lot more intuitive instead of relying on the raw skills of the translator.

5. Role of the Teacher

In these times of corona confusion, the role of the teacher and their tools and methods have been questioned in terms of all education. Italki is also especially concerned with this, as their platform is centred around e-learning and teaching. How will the teaching landscape change? What will students demand from their tutors/teachers?

6. Globalisation and Mass Media Mass media may also see a lot more changes going forward, particularly concerning globalisation. We have already seen that print is a dying industry angle, and that media companies are moving towards digital. A step forward would be offering several languages for all of their content, and then, potentially language learning and specialisation may change as a result also. Who knows?

7. Antiquating the Language Class Similarly to the role of the teacher, language classes themselves have been under scrutiny for the last decade. The effectiveness of a language class is largely based on the students and the work they do at home, and therefore makes the necessity of the classroom setting questionable. Will language classes evolve, or will it take on an entirely new form in the future?

8. The Inevitable Evolution of Textbooks

Textbooks are a wealthy source of knowledge and are the symbol of language learning. Textbooks have come a long way to accommodate the actual learning and training of language learners, but in all honestly, have a far way to go. We may even see more books paired with online training or interactive PDFs with video and animated graphics!

I hope this extra food for thought prompts helped to give your brain a shake and have you coming up with your own hot takes around the original question: What will the future of language learning look like? These ideas are not direct answers to the original question and are more background information for you to use when thinking about the big picture of your original thesis/topic idea. We hope you enjoy the process of applying for this scholarship and will be rooting for you on the sidelines!

Get $20 of free Italki credits with this link.

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