Sunday, 4 December 2016

Google translate - you get what you pay for.

As the term has worn on, my students have got more confident.

Sadly, this means that in order to try to impress me, they have fallen into the murky mire that is the online translator.

In particular, Google Translate.

So, how do I explain to a group of keen, well meaning 12 year olds that this is what Alfie Atkins would call a "nopey no"?

I can only take so much "Vivo en Puente de Shotley (I live in Shotley Bridge)" or "My  favourite actress is Angelina Pretty One (a translation from French to English)".


I've blogged before about Google Translate, saying how much I love it, but in the hands of an untrained amateur, it can be a very dangerous weapon.

Last week, I gave them "the lecture" but I tried to use an analogy they'll understand.

It went a lot like this:

Me: Who has a games console? A PS4 or an X-Box or something like that?

(Lots of hands go up.)

Me: And, who has ever downloaded a game for free from the app store or google play?

(Lots of hands go up.)

Me: And which are the best? The free, downloaded ones or the PS4 ones?

(Lots of shouting out of PS4, X-Box etc.)

Me: Why?

(Lots of hands go up.)

Students: They are more challenging and more fun... They don't have adverts all the time...You can play against other people online... The graphics and sound are better....

Me: Why are the games better? Why don't they have adverts?

(Silence. The sound of thinking)

Student: Because they cost a lot of money?

Me: Bingo! Give that child a coconut! (Coconuts are the main form of currency in north east England.)

Me: So why is Google Translate not good for our needs?

Students: Because it's free?

(I think they got it! In your faces, Janet Jackson and Luther Vandross!!!)

Me: Incidentally, a decent online translation service starts at around $800 a month...

Stunned silence.

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