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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Google translator

Google translator

Related Tags: World Languages
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See the Discussion strand on Changing the Community name to World Languages for the context of this discussion... Re: Google Translator... I wonder if any of our readers can confirm the quality and accuracy of the Chinese translation which Allen posted in the other discussion? It has been my experience with Google's translator (based on how my students have tried to use it and it not doing the job...), that the service seems to promise much more than it can produce yet. I mean no disrespect to our friends at Google, but it isn't perfected yet. It is improving all the time, however! For example, taking Allen's text, when I translate into French, what I get is not bad, but it is not completely correct. It is correct enough to get the gist, and even more. Clearly it is a work in progress, well on the way, and useful for much. Anyway, I am curious how accurate the Chinese translation is, just to compare notes. In the meantime, for all of us who teach World Languages, how are you using Google translator? Or, if you aren't, why not? How are you directing students to use or not use this on-line tool? Personally, I have been asking students to use on-line dictionaries rather than translators. I like that the students can engage in thinking critically about which words to use based on the definitions and examples which are not so readily apparent in on-line translators. What do you think? This is one of the great things about the on-line community forum here at Edutopia. Please contribute your thoughts and ideas! I love to hear what you all are doing and your creative ideas. Thanks again to Allen for his posting. Don On Twitter - @dr_dmd

This post was created by a member of Edutopia's community. If you have your own #eduawesome tips, strategies, and ideas for improving education, share them with us.

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Shelley Schwinn's picture
Shelley Schwinn
World Languages Tutor

As a professional tutor I support the policies that the teachers have, and all of them clearly state 'no on-line translators.' My students have not told me if they ever have a chance to find out 'why' (if their teachers have explained to them that on-line translators are still limited, and non-human translations are detectable by teachers), however, this site is an excellent tool for doing just that :

put a short paragraph in the box, select to translate 50 times, and chuckle at the results. This makes it obvious to the students that what they intended to say and what they are saying in the TL just does not make sense when they use an on-line translator.

Yet I do not hesitate to show my students and review with them all the nuances of each word they want to look up (I am not a dictionary ;-) though I still have plenty of those on my desk too).

ETA an amusing example of the Bad Translator with part of the paragraph above :

Original text:

"As a professional tutor I support policies that teachers have, and all of them clearly state no on-line translators. My students have not told me if they ever have a chance to find out 'why' or if their teachers have explained the poor results."

...50 translations later :

"Teachers can be leaders and citizens and politicians, of course. The teacher asked me, I explained that I do not understand why."

on twitter : @worldlanguages

Don Doehla, MA, NBCT's picture
Don Doehla, MA, NBCT
2015 California Language Teacher of the Year, Co-Director Berkeley WL Project at UC Berkeley Language Center

Thanks for the tips! Your point is spot on. I like how you have engaged your students in a process to see what results in using the translators. I will try that out as well.

I have enjoyed our collaboration on Twitter as well - thanks for engaging in the discussions. Our continued connections make us better equipped to meet the ever-changing needs we seek to address in our classes. Here's to on-going connetions!

all the best,

Andy's picture

I would forbid online translators for beginners and recommend thorough dictionaries at that level.
For level 3 students, online solution that offer result alternatives like Google translator are fine with me. Students definitely need to have a strong enough base before they mess with online translator.


JORGE's picture
Spanish Teacher, Curriculum Leader, High School, Florida

This is a familiar discussion. The cyber-translators may one day be close to 'accurate', but language is a living thing not just a tool. In the Renaissance, they had a popular expression in the literati circles: traduttore, traditore. TRANSLATOR=TRAITOR.

Don Doehla, MA, NBCT's picture
Don Doehla, MA, NBCT
2015 California Language Teacher of the Year, Co-Director Berkeley WL Project at UC Berkeley Language Center

Jorge snd Shelley, thanks for your comments and resources. It helps when we speak to our students with one voice on the issue, but even better is to cite third party references since they lend credence to our concerns and support our stance.

Happy summer!

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