Sunday, November 9, 2008

5 Translation Tools That Serve as Fantastic Resources for Students Who Are ELL, Foreign Language, and Struggling Readers

I'm currently deploying a large-scale online program which is internet-based and in English. The problem in New York City is we have students who speak over 100 languages for whom this tool is barely accessible since they are not proficient in the language. So now we're discussing potentially making the site English/Spanish with possibly additional languages to come down the road. This decision will take a significant amount resources including funding and human manpower providing a perfect translation by one language and, of course this person will have to be brought in any time there is a site change or update which in the ever-changing 21st Century-means often.

Tower of Babel No More
What many of those who've jumped on the online education market aren't fluent in is FREE translation tools that work in about a dozen languages. I use one right here on my website over on the right-side navigation about half-way down, called
Babel Fish from yahoo. Go ahead and try it. Unlike many of the sites of the vendors I work with, my site comes in multiple languages. Is it 100 % perfect? No, but is the information on the site clearly comprehensible to speakers of other languages? Absolutely! Furthermore it enables the reader to better understand the grammar differences when looking at a direct translation and empowers them with a tool they can use for free at any time.

Google is A Great Translator
I've used another tool called Google Translate which has been fantastic for me when doing research and pulling up resources in another language. Material I could never before read is now accessible to me! Furthermore, what is fantastic is that you can mouse over any sentence and it will bring up the original text. Amazing. Imagine going to Wikipedia Spanish, German, Russian, etc., and looking up a figure and event and to find out how it is viewed from the perspective of those who speak another language? Or how about checking out what an Arabic website has to say about Barack Obama? I’ve pasted in a translation from the “Political Council of Iraq” where you can see the Arabic text, the translator and the translation with the text over the language feature.

Text that Talks - Odiogo
This vendor was also contemplating having their site have the ability to speak text to the students as the listening level for students is higher then the reading level. Additionally, th
ere are students who are not able to read text, but are able to understand the spoken word. This too is available free on the internet, as you can see right here on my blog by selecting “Listen Now” at the top of my blog post. I set it up at Odiogo. You can test it out by listening to this entry. This is another fabulous tool for innovative educators.

Voki anyone
Another great text to speech tool is Voki. A great way for students not quite comfortable with English or with presenting can use a Voki like I have in the right hand of my blog. Students can type in text and their Voki will read it using a number of different voices. You can read more about one innovative educator’s review of using Voki’s for Education at project for review phase of writing process or join the discussion about how educators are using Voki in the Classroom.

The vendor's site is also rich with videos. Guess what. There is a free service where they'll translate videos with subtitles. Post your video with transcript and the
dotSUB community will help to translate in the languages they know. Not only is this a great option for ELLs, but this could be a great project for Foreign Language students. I can think of so many uses of this such as focusing creating instructional videos selected for their ELL classmates. For a sample look at the video, “Blogs in Plain English” translated into all these languages Albanian [100%] , Arabic [100%] , Basque [100%] , Catalan; Valencian [100%] , Chinese (Traditional) [100%] , Danish [100%] , Dutch; Flemish [100%] , English [100%] , Esperanto [100%] , French (France) [100%] , Galician [100%] , German [100%] , Greek, Modern (1453-) [100%] , Hebrew [100%] , Italian [100%] , Macedonian [100%] , Portuguese (Brazil) [100%] , Romanian [100%] , Spanish; Castilian [100%] , Thai [100%] , Turkish [100%]


The internet has changed the rules and really has made information accessible in ways never before possible. So even if a site or vendor you are working with has not incorporated these tools, you do not have to wait. These are all available, FREE, TODAY for all innovative educators interested in enhancing student achievement for ELLs, foreign language students and those reading below grade level.

1 comment:

  1. ColorĂ­n Colorado is -in its own words-"a free web-based service that provides information, activities & advice for educators & Spanish-speaking families of English language learners".
    Here's the site: