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Monday, December 15, 2014

Using a Free Online Translator

cheat sheet with screen shots
On Friday, our computer lab day, I noticed that many of the students in my morning class were using their electronic dictionaries to look up one unknown word after another as they visited various internet sites to which I had provided links from our classroom blog. When I asked them if they ever considered copying and pasting whole pages of text into an online translator to save time, they asked me to show them how to do that. I tried walking them through the steps, projecting the process onto the big screen at the front of the lab as they followed along. There are only a few steps, ones that strike me as simple. But these students are far from digital natives. 

The oldest of them said, "I can't do it."

I told this gentleman--who has learned to unlock the computers using Ctrl-Alt-Del, put in the password, hit enter, open the internet and navigate to our classroom blog--that I believed he could indeed learn to do it.

"You have to give it to us slowly, step by step," he said.

And so I made up a little cheat sheet with screen shots that they can bring with them each lab day. We went through the steps again, very slowly, as they made notes on the handout in their L1. They informed me, when all was said and done, that Google Translate does not render a high quality translation--something you probably already know. I showed them how to shop around for a better free online translator. After comparing how several rendered the same paragraph, they let me know that WorldLingo had done the best job, so I've included a note to that effect at the end of the cheat sheet. You can download the 2-page handout with screen shots and bright arrows from the Tricks, Tips & Tutorials Page.

If this comes in handy for your class, I hope you'll leave a comment. Or if you have reasons to be opposed to such an idea because of the nature of your class, you can share that, too.

2 comments:

  1. Hilary originally commented: "I have really enjoyed looking at your websites, Kelly. You have a wonderful approach to teaching. I didn't know about this translator tool. But more importantly, it has never occurred to me to embrace the students' propensity for translation rather than fight it. I am going to learn a lot from you!"

    And I responded: "Thank you so much, Hilary, for letting me know you have enjoyed reading my posts. I'm doing a little jig here because this is my FIRST COMMENT!!! Woot! As for my "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" approach to electronic dictionary use in my class, I think I would respond differently with each group. This group is so very different. They are all older than I am and all have more post-graduate education than I do. That said, we do have blocks of time when pencils and bilingual dictionaries are off limits, such as during speaking / listening practice time in class, a lot of pair and group work, etc.
    Thanks again for your kind remarks. I hope you'll come back. Since you are following me on Twitter, you'll receive notification when I post more free things or write a blog post. Cheers!"

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hilary originally commented: "I have really enjoyed looking at your websites, Kelly. You have a wonderful approach to teaching. I didn't know about this translator tool. But more importantly, it has never occurred to me to embrace the students' propensity for translation rather than fight it. I am going to learn a lot from you!"

    And I responded: "Thank you so much, Hilary, for letting me know you have enjoyed reading my posts. I'm doing a little jig here because this is my FIRST COMMENT!!! Woot! As for my "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" approach to electronic dictionary use in my class, I think I would respond differently with each group. This group is so very different. They are all older than I am and all have more post-graduate education than I do. That said, we do have blocks of time when pencils and bilingual dictionaries are off limits, such as during speaking / listening practice time in class, a lot of pair and group work, etc.
    Thanks again for your kind remarks. I hope you'll come back. Since you are following me on Twitter, you'll receive notification when I post more free things or write a blog post. Cheers!"

    ReplyDelete