1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.
  2. Hi Guest, welcome to the TES Community!

    Connect with like-minded education professionals and have your say on the issues that matter to you.

    Don't forget to look at the how to guide.

    Dismiss Notice

Students using Google Translate for homework

Discussion in 'Modern foreign languages' started by squashbabe49, Nov 20, 2012.

  1. squashbabe49

    squashbabe49 New commenter

    My year 7s now say they don't need to write down vocab as they can use Google translate to do their homework.
    I have use the arguements that it isn't always correct French and that it is not their own work!
    How does anyone else deal with this?
  2. squashbabe49

    squashbabe49 New commenter

    My year 7s now say they don't need to write down vocab as they can use Google translate to do their homework.
    I have use the arguements that it isn't always correct French and that it is not their own work!
    How does anyone else deal with this?
  3. henriette

    henriette New commenter

    vocab test!
  4. noemie

    noemie Occasional commenter

    We make them and their parents sign an acceptable use policy explaining why they are not allowed to use online translators, basically on the lines of what you say - it is not their own work and it is likely to produce more mistakes. We do let them use online dictionaries e.g. wordreference. Not writing down vocab when you ask them to is defiance though, isn't it? They need to go through the process of learning new words, reusing them in their writing, then adding some more new vocab, etc. I usually explain to Y7 and Y8 that I understand they find it frustrating as they are limited in what they can say compared to what they want to say, but that it's a necessary process.
    As a last resort, you could always do all writing in class, and get them to do listening/reading at home. That's what I do with classes I can't trust (fortunately, not that many).
  5. One thing you could try is to set a reading task which they have to annotate at home, with any resource allowed including google. When you next see them they get a clean copy and some questions about the passage. Remember not to give the questions out in advance. Annotated copies not allowed. Those who have made an attempt to learn vocab will be more successful with the questions than those who haven't. Afterwards you can debrief about the (un)successful translations that google supplied.

    I do this quite regularly and it works a treat with ks4 as I can set lengthier texts with more questions.
  6. There are funny examples of bad google translations. I have one from MFL Sunderland on the wall in my classroom as a reminder! My department also had students and parents sign a charter stating that the use of online translators was unacceptable.
  7. Show them how much nonsense google translate produces.
    An example: Translate the sentence: I mustn't use google translate because it produces utter tosh.
    Use google translate to translate it into French. You get: tosh totale.
    Then translate this sentence into three more languages and then back into English.
    You get: French - German: produziert.
    German - Dutch: totaal Tosh.
    Dutch - Spanish: total.
    Spanish - English: full Tosh.
    They will see that apart from "I" and "Google Translate" not much of the original message has stayed. If there was some quality in google translate, it should have, shouldn't it?
  8. custardcream2011

    custardcream2011 New commenter

    I think with individual vocab it's not so bad - I personally disagree with using paper dictionaries, wordreference.com is much better.

    However with sentences, then it really is cheating and will give more often than not an inaccurate translation.

    I would pick suspect googlers at random and get them to explain their reasoning by breaking down certain phrases that are right or by comparing a wrong phrase with one that they have learnt the structure or vocab already.
  9. As mentioned before, I always start by explaining why online translation is evil and most kids can see the reasons behind it. (full of mistakes, and in any case, not yours, and I need to see yours to inform my teaching)
    Once I challenged a year 9 about her homework, she kept denying using online translation. So I praised her for her excellent work and asked her to team-teach Year 13 with me as they would benefit massively from someone else explaining them condordance des temps between pluperfect, conditional, imperfect and use of the subjunctive since she clearly understood all these so well without any teacher input... At that stage she admitted having used online translation and she got the detention of her life for cheating and for dishonesty... The word went around the whole year not to do translation work... 2 years later she still remembers that one detention she got with me!

    What we tend to do is : first time is detention, beyond that, it's a phone call home. Parents usually see it as cheating too and will back you up!
  10. spsmith45

    spsmith45 New commenter

    I have not found that the case in French, maybe because word order is less crucial?
    Here is an intermediate level para, like a typical GCSE CA grade B ish.:


    Last year I went on holiday to the south of France. We went by car and ferry because we like to cross the Channel and we stay in a hotel near Rouen. During our stay we did lots of things. For example, we sunbathed on the beach, went shopping, went to a theme park and ate in restaurants. We had a really good time. Next year we intend to go to Spain.

    nous avons l'intention d'aller en Espagne.

    I'm sorry, it's not error-free, but it's not nonsense.

  11. chriszwinter1

    chriszwinter1 New commenter

    I cannot tell that that is Google effort. Machine translation has come a long way. I've just put the same text into Google for translation into German and got the following:
    To me, that is just as good as the French equivalent and I would not have been able to guess that it was a machine translation. However, for students learning how to use a language, it is a bit like using an English translation of foreign literary text. If they don't understand the structure, they won't know how accurate the translation is and that most of us woud have preferred the perfect tense.
  12. delnon

    delnon Lead commenter

    For me, the key issue is time. It takes far longer to find what you want on google than to fetch it out of your own head.
  13. dlh202

    dlh202 New commenter

    I think with the examples above you are assuming that students have perfect spelling and concise turn of phrase. I find the main giveaways for translated work are:
    Material we have not (yet) taught them such as pluperfects, subjunctives etc
    English words making appearances where they shouldn't
    Mispelt words
    Perfect case use and adjective endings in German.
    Overuse of imperfect tense, given the preference in textbooks for the perfect in German
    Overly wordy constructiosn particularly in German with numerous subordinate clauses.
    It is significantly better than it was but I still wouldn't let a student go near it. I'd make them do the homework again as Noemie suggests.
  14. chriszwinter1

    chriszwinter1 New commenter

    I've seen work that is worse than that receive a high grade, and that leads to all sorts of problems for A level. Recently, in an essay about internet use, a student wrote, "Mein Bruder brach seinen Laptop", and I ask for an explanation of the verb. None was forthcoming, because "I used Google translate".
    The problem is that it actually exists, and I imagine that most examiners would accept that sentence about going to Spain next year as communicative even though AQA insists on "werden" being used for the future tense and won't allow the present tense with a time phrase.
  15. I think you're more of an expert for the French than I am. I didn't understand some of it, and I have an A-Level in French (and am still able to make myself understood, at least). But I guess with a French speaking background, it's a different thing. But the German definitly has too many communication breakdowns. Pupils shouldn't earn points for sentences which don't even have a verb.
    I always use an online dictionary to try and translate things in foreign languages I don't speak. Google translate hasn't helped me that much... (but the facebook translation tool is even worse :D).

  16. In my opinion, it's straight-up cheating. When I can prove it (and I can... most of the time it's abysmal, because a good translation depends on the accuracy of the original text, and a lot of students can't produce a perfect original, even in English), it's an automatic zero. And I have never had a parent or administrator challenge me on that. (It helps immensely when students click the wrong language... I only teach French, but have received work in Spanish, Italian, and once (very memorably) Greek.
  17. dlh202

    dlh202 New commenter

    That's just reminded me of the dutch translation i got earlier this year. Needless to say, he had to do it again.
    The student assured me it was perfect German, before confessing to having translated. I then explained to him the difference between "Dutch" and "Deutsch". That said, he still occasionally slips in a dutch word here and there.
  18. spsmith45

    spsmith45 New commenter

    OK - here's anothet test. This is an advanced piece from the Guardian about supermarket pricing policies. First the English:
    Eight of the UK's biggest supermarkets have signed up to a set of
    principles following concerns that they were "failing to operate within
    the spirit of the law" over special offers and promotions for food and
    drink, the Office of Fair Trading has said.

    Tesco, Sainsbury's, Waitrose, Morrisons, Marks & Spencer, Aldi,
    the Co-operative and Lidl have agreed to incorporate the principles
    into their policies, to ensure promotions are "fair and meaningful".

    cover popular claims involving discounts such as "was £3, now £2" or
    "half price", which must now only be offered for the same or less time
    than the product was initially sold at the higher price. The
    supermarkets have also agreed not to artificially inflate prices to make
    a later "discount" look more attractive.

    Now, Google's first effort:
    a dit.

    Tesco, Sainsbury, Waitrose, Morrisons, Marks & Spencer, Aldi, l'. Coopérative et sont «juste et significative"

    Ils couvrent attrayant.

    Actually, notwithstandign accuracy issues, the message only really falls apart badly in the last sentence. Errors are principally ones to do with preposition choice, relative pronouns, agreement and articles (or lack of them). It still takes a skilled linguist to correct the final translation, but a non-native speaker is bound to be tempted to let GoogleTranslate do at least some of the job of translating to save time.
  19. But look at the first sentence:
    Communication breakdown number one. "Following concerns" refers to none of the words explicitly, but to the general idea. Google translate links it to the word "principles", so the sentence means: Eight of the UK's biggest supermarkets have signed a set of principles which follow concerns that they "malfunctioned in the spirit of the law". That doesn't make sense, does it?

  20. Cestrian

    Cestrian New commenter

    I've just returned a draft presentation in French to a student who had emailed it to me - virtually all Google-translated, proven when I typed an awkward-sounding French sentence in myself and it translated into a perfect English sentence. Pure laziness, as he had not bothered to do any preparation work in class. [​IMG]

Share This Page