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Posts tagged ‘translation’

Translation Add-ons

Now web page translation, which is these days down to a pretty slick art, is all very well for those who just want to grab the content of a foreign-language web page, but it’s not really for us or our students. What we (and they) need is a tool that aids not just understanding but learning, and that means something that will provide the meaning of individual words by hovering or clicking on them. Now Babylon is undoubtedly the best such tool out there, but it is a bit pricey and frustratingly restricted to a single machine per licence. So I thought I’d have a look at what can be done by browser add-ons and have selected my best bet in each case.

IE8 Translation

The bad news for Opera buffs like me is that there basically isn’t anything that is much good at all for this otherwise lovely browser. Grrrr. IE8 doesn’t really fare much better either. Right click on a highlighted word and hovering over Translate with Bing will just about do the job, but it’s a bit clunky and the translations rather perfunctory. Could do better just about sums it up. See image above.

Chrome Translate

Things are rather better for Chrome  afficionados, who are a growing band these days. Not surprising, as it’s a pretty nice browser, despite its handling of bookmarks being less than brilliant. Install the Google Dictionary  extension and double clicking on a word will pull up a translation (or Wikipedia entry) in a neat little pop-up. Automatic language recognition is built in, so it pretty much looks after itself, though this feature can on occasion lead to it getting a bit confused! See image above.

Now I’m not always Firefox‘s biggest fan, but I think that in this face-off it just about takes the top spot with its Babelfish add-on. This performs pretty much like the Chrome translator, but I’ll give it the nod for its greater flexibility, as you can manage the languages and various other options with some precision. Overall, it does a good job and is really easy to use. See image above.

So there you have it. I can’t vouch for Safari, as I’m not a Mac user, but the above are probably your best bets for a PC. Just don’t forget to tell your students!

PS I deliberately haven’t mentioned here the great services offered by web readers such as Wordchamp or Lingro – they are a different, and altogether more sophisticated, kettle of fish.



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!



Now this is quite an interesting website which has a few tricks up its sleeve. Firstly, it offers online dictionaries in a range of languages from or into English. In the usual way, you type in a word and suitable translations are offered. Where Lingro differs is that it has an intuitive function so that suggested translations appear as you type in your word. It really is pretty fast, as it claims to be, and – as it is largely based on Wiktionary – the vocabulary base will continue to increase.

Lingro Dictionary












Its second trick is to offer a web viewer – very similar to what Wordchamp does, though admittedly not quite as well. Insert a web address and you can view the web page within the viewer and clicking on a word will pull up a translation or translations in a neat little box. Click on the word again to close the box. You can set the languages to translate into and from at the bottom of the page, as with the dictionary. Lingro gets one back on Wordchamp by offering a browser plug-in that allows you to go to a web page, activate the plugin (in IE it’s a bookmark or favorite) and you automatically see it in clickable translation mode. Very nice.

Lingro Web Viewer












Its third trick – also one up on Wordchamp – is that there is a file viewer which allows you to pull up, say, a Word document or a pdf in a viewer that offers the same click-on-a-word translation facility as for web pages.

Google, as we all know, can create pretty effective translated versions of complete web pages, but the approach offered by sites such as Lingro are more useful for language learners and teachers. Give it a go sometime.

Word Champ

Wordchamp.com is a languages website with huge potential to help out in a variety of classroom contexts at different levels – plus, it lends itself really well to the interactive whiteboard. I know that some of you are already aware of the site and its potential, but for those of you not yet in the know, here are one or two ideas about how it might help.

The really clever element of the site is the Web Reader, which you access by clicking on the bit that says Read Foreign Websites. Doing so takes you here. You are guided through what you need to do, which is to select the language of the website, the language you want to see definitions in, and to paste in the address of the page you want to analyse. You can also paste in chunks of text, but it doesn’t like more than a sentence or two, in my experience. Click on Read and …..

….. at first you think nothing has happened, as you just see the chosen web page. But ….. if you hover the cursor over a word, it highlights it and pulls up a little box with possible meanings and audio files in both languages. So the beauty of this tool is that it doesn’t attempt to translate the page for you – or, more realistically, the student – but offers help with the trickier words. A great way of allowing students to access material they might otherwise find beyond them.

But, here’s the really clever bit. If you click on the word or its definition in the box, it will then be added to a vocabulary list in another little box up in the top right hand corner, so that, after studying the page, you can do a little test on the words you’ve looked up – from or into the foreign language and with or without audio files. If you or a student has registered on the site [which is free] you can save the vocabulary lists for later use.

Absolutely brilliant. Registration also allows you as a teacher to create vocabulary lists and tests on different topics. To be honest, although I have registered, I haven’t got as far as doing that, though it looks to be a useful tool.

The other feature of the site which I’ve used successfully is the the verb charts – right at the bottom of the home page there are links to lists in French, German, Spanish and Italian. Clicking on French, for example, takes you here. Quite a choice, as you can see. Click on a specific verb and you get a page with all the tenses and moods.

There are a couple of ways you can use this. Say you are learning or revising the Imperfect tense. You can get the class to pick a letter, then a verb beginning with that letter, then a subject. Your victim gives their version, which you check by clicking on the infinitive. They delight in choosing the most obscure verbs – so zieuter, for example, might be a popular choice. A terrific way of expanding the horizons of their vocabulary! And, again, there are sound files – for the infinitives and definitions. The other way is to choose your verb by clicking on the infinitive, then at the top left of the page for that verb click on Click here to practice conjugating this verb. You can then choose a tense or mood, and hey presto it will run a little test for you.

Both the Web Reader and the verb lists can work well in the classroom at different levels of learning, and they are also useful tools for individual use by students for wider reading and for practice and reinforcement.

The site, as I’ve said, offers scope for much more than I’ve so far got out of it. So, if anyone has made more extensive use of it, please share your experience!