October 21, 2012

“Are You Smarter Than Google?” Contest Demonstrates Weaknesses of Online Translations Programs

Language teachers’ listservs are often abuzz with posts from teachers wondering what to do about students who attempt to pass off the work of online translators as their own. Here is a positive activity suggested by a Latinteach listserv user:

A couple of years ago, I ran a contest called "Are you smarter than Google?" I choose a short story that doesn't have a published translation (where Google does best because it just searches the web and provides the human translation). After school, we gathered the volunteers and then their translations were graded in comparison to Google's. 18 out of the 20 students who competed beat Google in translating. We announced the winners in an assembly and gave small prizes and posted the names. Along with the winners' names, I posted Google's translation with the original Latin for giggles -- a fun contest for them and a good lesson that Google translate is not the way to go with their homework.

Ham, G. [Latinteach] google translate. Latinteach listserv (latinteach@nxport.com, 9 Oct 2012).

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