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Translate Text on the Fly Using Your Phone and the Google Translate App. Brilliant!


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The Visual Translation Function Built Into Google Translate is Some #AwesomeTech

Note to my regular readers: As you know, normally on Sunday I post a “Tweet Wrap” sharing faves from the week's Twitter posts, but I was traveling with limited ‘Net access much of this last week and didn't post much. Instead, today I am sharing a powerful tool that can be useful in personal life and in some instructional applications. – KW

Who hasn't had the occasion to look at a sign or document printed in a foreign language and wonder what it says?

Imagine being able to point your camera at that text and have it translate it to the language of your choice on the fly! Maybe you could even take a picture of the translated text so you can have it available on demand?

Is this sort of thing possible? Yes … yes it is! Welcome to the Google Translate app.


Whether you are traveling in a foreign land, trying to teach a foreign language, or giving a lesson that incorporates foreign locales, Google Translate can provide powerful functionality you should know about.

YouTubers “Nat & Lo” demonstrate the app in this video, and interview the app's creator, who explains how it works.

How awesome is that? This is a very practical use of Augmented Reality. And the price is right – the Google Translate app is totally free! Go check it out today:

So How About Google Translate in the Classroom?

The most obvious use of Google Translate is in the foreign language classroom, and language teachers are generally quite wary of it. The app obviously offers the possibility for cheating, and for providing a work around that will limit how effectively students learn the language being studied.

Some teachers will point out that the grammatical errors and other limitations of the app make it easy to detect when students use it. That may not always be the case. Teacher Steven Wenz examined this and wrote about it in this article, An experiment with Google Translate in introductory-level language courses. He concluded that for some languages, the translations can easily be good enough to escape detection, while with others there is a high likelihood of detectable issues with translation. Of course, there should be little doubt that Translate will continue to improve, so eventually it may not be easy to detect its use for many languages.

So what is the Foreign Language teacher to do? Insist that it not be used, or consider ways to embrace it? This Wiki page offers several educational “Good Uses” for the app. This article by Kenneth Beare, How to Use Google Translate to Teach English, takes a positive approach to the benefits the app can offer in teaching languages. In the end, it is up to teachers to decide for themselves.

When we start to examine the potential for Google Translate in other courses, it becomes less controversial. Subject like Social Studies, History, Art, and many others will have occasion to deal with foreign language content, and the Google Translate app can clearly be an aid to student and teacher alike.

If you are using Google Translate in the classroom, or have an opinion to share or questions to ask, please drop a comment and inform, inquire, or opine!



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