Monday, November 6, 2017

Should We Block Google Translate? No Way

This post was started all the way back in 2013. I saw it in my drafts column, and having had a conversation with my wife about this very subject, decided it was time to come back and finish my thoughts.

I came across a share on Google+ by +Jay Atwood that was linked to a blog post called Should We Block Google Translate? by Jen Roberts.

The other day I was having this same conversation with my wife.

I argued they should be able to use it.
But, the results are not very good.
Yes, so tell them that. Then tell them they have to work with a partner to make the translation better afterward.

I really don't have another reason other than that. Google Translate is a tool people actually use, so why not let students use it to see its limitations. As Jen says in her post, even with a calculator you need to know the math before you can use it to solve a complex problem.

With Google Translate, I see it more as an opportunity to solve the problem collaboratively.

Below in gray were my notes at the time.
When I saw this I clicked it to find that

Using Google translate is a form of plagiarism. It's cheating and students who cheat on homework won't know the material for the test in class, nor will they have the language skills they need for life in a global society.

Are dictionaries allowed? Professional translators use them all the time. What if I translate one word from a dictionary? Is that a form of plagiarism? Do I need to cite my source?

nor will they have the language skills they need for life in a global society

Long ago, my district used to block Wikipedia. Students used it at home, but at school we had no access to show them why it was not a good source. If you block translate language teachers will be in the same position. Students will use it at home, but at school teachers won't be able to demonstrate why it fails.

Further, correcting translations is probably a very authentic task for a modern linguist. (People get paid to do this.)

 This reminds me of the calculator debate in elementary mathematics.

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