They Speak All Languages: from the Language of A. Pushkin to Chinese, and JavaScript and Python

A master class on working with chat bots was held for the applied linguistics students at the Department of Linguistics and Translation of the Institute of Linguistics and International Communications. This master class was organized as part of the focus on project-based learning and professionally-oriented work with students.

The representative of Just AI, a St. Petersburg company which held the master class, was a SUSU graduate Svetlana Volskaya. Having earned her Specialist’s degree in Theoretical and Applied Linguistics (today, this is the Bachelor’s program on Fundamental and Applied Linguistics) in 2013, she decided to continue her studies in a Master’s program at Saint Petersburg State University.

At present, Svetlana leads the office of computational linguistics and conversational artificial intelligence at Just AI company, St. Petersburg, where she travelled the entire path up the ladder from developer to head of the office. Now, her team consists of 11 developers.

“I started immersing myself into the world of computational linguistics in 2008 at SUSU,” remembers Svetlana. “Since then I have travelled a long path – 5 years of studies at SUSU, a Master’s program at St. Petersburg, and even studying at the Institute of Theoretical Mechanics and Optics as a programming engineer.”

Before the master class, there was a small lecture about where graduates of this specialty are in demand, and what human-machine dialogue is. There was silence in the room – the first- and second-year students wanted to catch every word.

“At Just AI, we create chat bots for big business clients. Our clients include such companies as, McDonalds, Papa Johns, UniCredit Bank, S7, Sberbank, and more. Our partners also include such huge, world-famous NLP companies as Yandex and Google,” continues Svetlana. “With the students at SUSU, we decided to try and write bots in Chinese on a platform that our company developed. The thing is that students of the department of Linguistics and Translation have a unique and very in-demand combination of qualities for the modern labour market – programming skills and knowledge of Chinese. Our company is currently entering the Chinese market, and as a result of this, I had the idea, for old times’ sake, to contact the Department of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics and find out if their students would be able to cooperate with us in developing chat bots in Chinese on our platform,” she admits.

According to Svetlana, within this partnership, SUSU students can develop several Chinese-speaking bots from scratch to production, deploy them into various channels, test them, and also help the company improve their platform, point out possible shortcomings in terms of morphological and syntactic analyses, which are built in to the platform.

We wish success to our linguistics students in their future work on such a promising project, and of course, we want to sincerely thank our partners from Just AI!

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