ICT related news and ideas

Archive for December, 2009

Translation in Microsoft Word

There are lots of tools available out there to translate things and students usually choose the most desperately inaccurate one when trying to take a shortcut on their homework, so it’s not hard to spot! But, used sensibly, these tools can be useful: I have written before about the really very useful Lingro, and Germanists have the brilliant Dict.cc.

But it’s worth mentioning Microsoft’s entry into the fray with the translation facility in Word 2007. It’s far from brilliant but it’s a start, I suppose, and could be useful as a way of working within a document without going out to external tools. To turn on the facility, you go to the Review tab on the ribbon and select Translation (fourth from the left). This pulls up a vertical window on the right of your document within which you can select your languages to translate from and into. After that, if you click within any word then right click and choose Translate then Translate again (why twice??) your translation will come up on  the right hand side.

It is limited but it is functional. There is also an option to translate an entire text, but that is as dire as they come and only worth doing if you want a laugh! There is also an option called Translation Screen Tips, which is meant to provide a translation when you hover over a word. I’ve never got it to work in either Vista or Windows 7. If anyone has managed to pull off this trick, do let me know!


Word Magnets

There are quite a lot of ways of dragging text around an IWB, but Word Magnets is one of the better ones, being simple yet flexible. And knowing how to put a sentence together is an important thing for learners of languages like German, for instance. It’s an online resource made available by the clever people at Triptico who offer a number of other IWB resources, well worth looking at. All you have to do is type in (or copy in) the text you want to play about with.

Create Text Screen

On pressing Next you will be asked if you want to change the background. This throws up lots of options for organising words on the screen, but mostly it’s best just to leave it blank (or blue, as it happens) by pressing Next again. This then brings up a screen with your text chopped up into the separate words which can then be dragged around the screen. So far so good, but fairly unremarkable.

Where I think Word Magnets shows its strengths are in the simple ways it offers to increase the size of your text items if you need to, remove or add text items, and to change the background colour of the items.

Words re-arranged & coloured

The potential of this last action is interesting. If you click on one of the fill colours along the top menu, the next text item you touch will change to that colour. So, say your words are still in their intial state, ie scrambled and with a white background, you can ask a pupil to point out the subject, the object, the verb, the past participle, a TMP element (for Germanists, that one!), whatever you like, and magically their selection becomes the colour you have chosen. You can mess about with this almost infinitely!

The downsides? Well, you are stuck with one font, Comic Sans MS (oh dear), and you can’t save your work. Is it then better than just doing it with the software already on the IWB? I think so, in view of the capabilities for changing things around I have mentioned.

PS. If you like this kind of thing, you will also like (or know) Fridge Magnets, a similar tool which is more suited to spelling than to text manipulation, from those other clever people at Sandfields. This resource needs to be downloaded as a zip file.