22 August 2016

New Translator Policy

The linguistic world is a-changing. We all have pretty awesome translators in our pockets--some even say the Babelfish of Hitchhiker's fame is already here! I mean, my students don't have it, and I doubt they will for years to come (I suspect it'll be a luxury item for the duration of my teaching career). But you can bet they've had smart phones that can turn a Spanish sign into English before their very eyes for a year already.

Sra. Stilson touched on why we still need to learn language (or acquire, excuse me)--luxury commodities aside. Because really, translators kind of get in the way when we depend on them to engage in personal relationships and to just enjoy art.

Still, as learning tools, they're pretty hard to beat. So here's the deal I'm making with my Online Spanish III class.

Google Translate is actually pretty cool. Did you know it can help you...
  • choose the right word you're looking for?
  • practice the correct pronunciation for new words?
  • revise your writing for mistakes?
Do you know what else? WordReference is even better! It gives you...
  • context sentences--in English AND Spanish!--to help make sure the way you use it makes sense.
  • notes about regional usage so you can figure out of the word will make sense to everyone.
  • definitions and context for Spanish idioms using the word you're looking for. 
  • forum discussions at the bottom of the page to find answers about specific situational usage (e.g. sports terms.)

Of course you know that Google Translate's not perfect yet, either. Its algorithms haven't fully grasped every nuance of Spanish or English--to say nothing of the 100+ other languages represented. And you will retain nothing if you spend all of your time looking up every single word for an assignment.
So here's what we'll do.
I firmly believe there is a time and a place to use a translator and that it can help you continue growing beyond even your Spanish work this year. And so, that means that 

    1. I WILL allow the use of dictionaries and translators BUT
    2. ONLY to complete certain assignments AND
    3. ONLY IF you follow these guidelines:

Translators and dictionaries are primarily for writing assignments, though there may be some situations in which a quick check for a word or two would be appropriate in a speaking situation. However, these tools are for learning situations only--NOT ASSESSMENTS. 
Assignments for which translator/dictionary usage is acceptable:
  • portfolio revisions
  • blog posts & comments
  • discussion boards
  • infographs
  • diagrams
  • scripts
  • comic strips
  • storyboards
Some assignments may indicate in their instructions that translators/dictionaries should not be used. Please read instructions carefully. But translators and dictionaries will NEVER be permitted for completing Integrated Performance Assessments.
IPAs are designed so I can evaluate what YOU can know and what YOU can do, not what WordReference knows or Google can do. I cannot give you accurate or appropriate feedback if you rely on those tools to complete those assessments.

Now, will students still misuse the translator? Probably. But we'll have a clear agreement ahead of time as to what is acceptable and what is not, a starting point for communicating about the desire to use translators.

So if you think this policy might help you and your kiddos, feel free to reuse the image with them. For online courses, the content page and quiz will be available on the Canvas Commons soon. And in case you need a print copy, I added a free editable .Doc to my TeachersPayTeachers store--quiz and all!

Translators are not the enemy, and dictionaries are useful in moderation. So let's help students figure out how to make these tools work for them instead of against them.

(P.S. Everything else in my TPT store is 20% off today!)

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