My students the other day asked about translating an odd slang word into English. First, I rarely give word for word translations, I encourage students to give me a definition or use the word in a sentence. Second, I encourage my students to figure out meanings on their own given the context. Third, I had no idea what they were talking about and even their descriptions were confusing me.
I suggested that they look it up on WordReference. One of the students responded, "We use Google Translate."
Now, don't get me wrong, Google Translate is great in many situations. Sometimes I use it to translate an entire webpage and get a general idea of what the page is trying to say. Other times I have to write a text in English and then again in Spanish. After writing in English sometimes I Google Translate to Spanish and then go through and correct and rewrite the translation. Is it faster? Sometimes! However, for simple word to word translations, there are so many better sites to use.
I really like wordreference because in addition to definitions they have forums. In the forums you can see (or ask yourself) specific questions about specific instances the word is used. They are also helpful if the definition isn't found!
However, as much as I wish me just saying, "Google Translate isn't really the best" would influence them, my students like proof...and songs...and Disney.
Thus, I bring you, "Google Translate Sings." These singers run the lyrics of songs through Google Translate multiple times (for example from English to Spanish, Spanish to German, German to Russian and then Russian to English again. At the end they sing these new lyrics.
Check out this example which uses the song, "Do you want to build a snowman," from Frozen. You can see the original lyrics on the top of the video and the "translated" lyrics on the bottom.
They have tons of these. Maybe find one your class would like, and show it as a reminder that brains are often best translators students have!
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Do you have any funny Google Translate mishaps that have happened with your or your students? Share them in the comments!