Google Translate is the most popular site and app in the world for translation, and I thought it would be useful — both for readers and for my Theory of Knowledge students — to bring together some resources to learn how it works.
Worlds Unknown: The Regions Ignored by Google Translate is from The Atlantic.
I have written a lot in my blog and in my book on teaching English Language Learners on how I use inductive learning in the classroom. Teaching “inductively” generally means providing students with a number of examples from which they can create a pattern and form a concept or rule. Teaching “deductively” is first providing the rule or concept and then having students practice applying it. This two-and-one-half minute video below explains that this is how Google Translate learns, too. It’s definitely worth watching.
Introducing Translate for Animals (beta): Bridging the gap between animals and humans was a funny April Fool’s Day prank Google pulled one year.
The Cold War Origins Of Google Translate is from the BBC and is pretty interesting.
I list my preferences for online translators in The Best Reference Websites For English Language Learners, along with sharing research from The New York Times on which ones do a better job. I list Google as the best. Ethan Shen has done a research project comparing Google Translate, Babelfish and Bing Translator. Here are his conclusions:
The final data reveals that while Google Translate is widely preferred when translating long passages, Microsoft Bing Translator and Yahoo Babelfish often produce better translations for phrases below 140 characters.
The New York Times published a chart titled “Putting Google to the Test in Translation.” In it, they compare several pieces of text using Google Translate, Yahoo’s Babel Fish, and Microsoft’s Bing translation system. Google seemed to come out on top.
Doc Translator says it “Instantly translates and preserves the layout of Office documents using the Google Translate.”It could be a useful tool for times like when my ESL students wrote informational fliers for their neighborhoods when the H1N1 flu first hit. They can put their energy into writing a document in English, make it into a nice flier, use Doc Translator to translate it (and maybe tidy it up a bit), and then upload it to the web.
Google Translate Adds Example Sentences To Put Words Into Context is from TechCrunch.
Microsoft’s Chief Research Officer gave a pretty amazing demonstration of computer translation advancement. In this video (I’ve used TubeChop to embed the most interesting part, so you will have to click through to see it. Or you can watch the entire video here). He speaks English and, just seconds later, what he says is translated into Mandarin in his own voice.
You can read more about this advance, including a history of machine translation, at his post.
Lost in Translation? Try a Google App is from The New York Times.
Google Wants To Improve Its Translations Through Crowdsourcing is from TechCrunch.
Making Use Of Google Translate offers some intriguing thoughts for ESL teachers.
Language Translation Tech Starts to Deliver on Its Promise is a New York Times article. I was particularly struck by this line:
Google will soon announce updates to its translation app for phones. Google Translate now offers written translation of 90 languages and the ability to hear spoken translations of a few popular languages. In the update, the app will automatically recognize if someone is speaking a popular language and automatically turn it into written text.
What Would a World Without Language Barriers Look Like? is an Atlantic article about Skype’s new “instant” translator,
Is Translation an Art or a Math Problem? is from The NY Times.
TED-Ed has published an interesting lesson and video on “How computers translate human language.”
Let me know if you have other suggestions.