Google Translate: A Good Idea?Saturday, March 23, 2013
On Friday, I attended the OMLTA Conference held right here in Toronto. While I was a little disappointed about the new setup and the apparent decrease in the number of exhibitors, I was lucky enough to attend a number of very interesting and informative workshops. One such workshop was called, "I know about the CEFR - now give me some strategies!!" This session was presented by Susanna Gojsic, Alfreda Le Donne and Carole Knezevic from my hometown of Hamilton. During the session, I learned some interesting strategies that I am excited to implement, one of which involves the use of videos.
As a French teacher, I cringe each time a student prepares a written assignment in English and then plops it into Google Translate. They never seem to realize that the end result could be a completely erroneous interpretation. After watching the video below during the workshop, I think it would be great to show it to my students in the hopes that they will question whether or not Google Translate is a good idea. Kick up your feet and watch this Fresh Prince inspired video created by cdza:
So, is Google Translate a good idea? In my opinion, if you're using it to translate an entire block of text or even a simple sentence, you will likely end up with a translation where the context has been skewed. The reason may be that there are several ways to translate a single word depending on what you intend to say. How can Google Translate know exactly what you mean? Another reason could be that there are errors, either in spelling or grammar, in the original language that cannot be translated into the target language. Instead of translating lengthy text, try limiting it to one word or an expression. The best bet is to use a good, old-fashioned dictionary, refer to examples studied in class, use vocabulary sheets or seek support from your peers and your teacher.