Thursday, October 13, 2016

Google Translate in Class #Obvious #80

Recently I spotted two students in one of my tutorials using Google Translate to understand better the exercise I had set - I had not seen this done before in my class, though I'm sure it must have happened. When I think about it, it seems so obvious a thing to do for a student for whom English is not their first language. 

Image source: Circa Lingua.
I have no idea of the number of nationalities there are in any of my classes, or of the number of different languages that my students can speak. I can only speak one language: English. I did learn Irish, French, and Latin in school, but cannot converse in any of them and only remember a few words. On coming to the College, students may be required to pass an English Language test, but no matter how good your English is, it may not be quite as good as your native language. Think also of the case where English is not the first language of a lecturer - an extra barrier may make learning harder.

None of my course materials is made available to my students in any other language besides English. My lectures are in English, and my interactions with students in tutorials are in English. My exam papers are in English, as are assignments and projects. In short - I personally do not (nor cannot) provide resources for my students in any language other than English. The most important thing for a student to do in my class is to learn - and language should not be a barrier to this. 

As diversity increases in my classes, and will most likely continue to do so, it will surely become part of my preparation that my course materials should be easier for non-English native speakers to understand. So far I have not provided transcripts for my YouTube videos, but I'll need to consider doing this as text transcripts are easier to translate than audio. I'll need to be aware that course materials might be fed into Google Translate, so I have to be careful not to provide vital material in an image or in uneditable PDF format. This will become a challenge for all educators, but thanks to tools like Google Translate, I think that language will become less of a barrier.

This post translated into Chinese (Simplified) using Google Translate:


最近,我发现两名学生在我的教程的一个使用谷歌翻译,以更好地了解我已成立了锻炼 - 我没有看到ESTA前在我的课做的,但我敢肯定,它一定发生。当我仔细想想,现在看来,这么明显的事情对一个学生做的不是为谁英格尔他们的第一语言。

我没有国籍人数的想法有任何我的班,或者不同的语言,我的学生能讲的数量。我只能讲一种语言:英语。我没有学爱尔兰,法国和拉丁美洲在校学生,但在任何人不能交谈,只记得几句话。在来到学院,可以要求学生通过英语语言的文本,但无论你的英语有多好,它可能不会是相当作为您的母语一样好。也觉得的情况下英语不是讲师的第一语言的 - 一个额外的屏障,使学习更加努力。

我的课程材料概不就任何其他语言除了英语提供给我的学生。我的演讲是英语,我的相互作用与学生的教程都是英语。我的试卷是英语,因为是任务和计划。总之 - 我个人没有(也不可能),我的学生比其他英语的任何语言提供资源。一个学生在我的课上做的最重要的事情就是学习 - 和语言不应该是一个障碍了这一点。



  1. The Department of the Gaeltacht was using it!

  2. As a Frenchman, who learnt a lot of his English in Belfast as an erasmus students all those years ago, and now as a lecturer with students who used Google translate in the past, my experience is that using such a service does very little (it might even be regressive) for foreign language acquisition.
    I always tell my non-English speakers students not to do it.