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.
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.
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!