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6 Excellent Google Translate Features Every (Language) Teacher Should Know about

April  27, 2016
Translation is a complex linguistic activity because meaning is elusive. Language is an inherent social activity and it takes more than mere syntactic and grammatical competence to arrive at the ‘presumed’ meaning of an utterance. Things such as contextual cues, cultural presuppositions and social settings all work in unison to shape and construct potential meanings. That’s why translation technologies can never provide exact translate the exact meanings of utterances; instead, they only provide approximations and, depending on how much utterances are context-(in)dependant, sometimes these approximations can totally miss the point and result in humorous or offensive translations. That being said, from the many apps we have tried, we think that Google Translate is probably the best of them all. Yes when it comes to whole sentence translations, inaccuracies happen but is still better than many other translation softwares out there.

For language teachers, Google Translate offers a number of powerful features that you can use with your students. For instance, ESL/EFL  students can use it to learn about both the meaning of words and their pronunciation. They can also use it to translate texts embedded in images and save all their translation history into a phrasebook accessible offline. To help you make the best of Google Translate in your language classes, we are sharing with you 5 of what we think are major features you should know about :

1- Learn how to pronounce translated words
Learning about the pronunciation of new term is just as important as learning about its meaning. Google Translate provides you with ability to listen to how the translated word is pronounced in the target language by simply clicking on the ‘Listen icon’ that shows up next to your translation. Most languages in Google Translate support this feature.

2- Translate text in images
This features works on Translate app for mobile devices. It allows you to translate text included in photos and images. There are three ways you can translate textual input from an image:

                   A- Point your camera
You can simply point your device’s camera at a picture and have it translated to you. This is how it works:
  • 'Open the Translate app .
  • Choose the languages ​​you want to translate between.
  • Touch the camera icon .
  • Point your camera at the text you want to translate. The translated text will appear on the screen instantly.'
                    B- Translate texts in pictures you have taken using your device
This is how to translate texts in images you take with your device:
  • 'Open the Translate app .
  • Choose the languages ​​you want to translate between.
  • Touch the Camera .
  • To take a picture, touch the Camera again.
  • Use your finger to highlight the text you want to translate.'
                   C- Translate text in existing images in your device
You can translate text in images saved in your device using the following steps:
  • 'Open the Translate app .
  • Choose the languages ​​you want to translate between.
  • Touch the Camera .
  • Touch Import .
  • Choose the photo you want to translate.
  • Use your finger to highlight the text you want to translate.'
3- Translate by speech

You can speak out our words or phrases and have them translated in the language of your choice. This is how to do it on Google Translate on the web, it also works on Translate apps:
  • 'Visit the Google Translate page.
  • In the bottom left corner of the text box, touch the microphone .
  • When told to "Speak now," say what you want to translate. In some languages, you'll hear the translation spoken back to you.'
4- Translate by handwriting
This feature allows you to handwrite words and phrases and have them instantly translated. This works only for Google Translate mobile apps and not all languages are supported. Here is how to do it:
  • 'Open the Translate app .
  • Choose languages by touching the language buttons at the top of the screen.
  • Touch Handwrite .
  • In the box that says "Write here," draw a character, word, or phrase.'

5- Translate documents
Google Translate on the web has this handy feature that lets you translate entire documents with a single click. Here is how it works:
  • 'Visit the Google Translate page on your computer.
  • Below the search box, click Translate a document.
  • Choose the file you want to translate. The format should be PDF, TXT, DOC, PPT, XLS, or RTF.'
6- Save your translations in a phrasebookAnother great feature provided by Google Translate is called ‘phrasebook’. You can easily create a phrasebook of all your past translations so you can access them even when you are offline. This works on both Translate for the web and mobile apps. Here is how it works:
  • 'Visit the Google Translate page.
  • Translate a word or phrase.
  • Click the star icon next to your translation .
  • When you open your phrasebook, you'll see the translation there.'
Source: Google Translate Help 
Images source: Google Translate iPad App