Recently Google released a huge update to their Google Translate App for iOS and Android. The updated app can now use the camera to translate printed text into the language of your choice. It does this on the fly and creates an almost augmented reality where you see the previous word changed into the translated word. Now this app is not perfect but it is good enough that we should be considering its use as a scaffold for helping our students, and parents, who are not proficient in the English language when they are in our schools.
Imagine a parent using this to translate the homework assignment or message home on the spot instead of having to take the time to translate this. A parent would more easily be able to navigate the hallways and read signs in the school, even though they may be in a language that they are not comfortable with.
Over the years I have tried working with many parents who were not proficient in the English language, and I am definitely not proficient in any other language. It was very difficult for me to talk to them or write them messages without a lot getting lost. There were also many times when I would talk with students and they would tell me their parents did not want to come to school because they were so uncomfortable not being able to communicate effectively. If we try using this app with these parents, and some students, it could easily reduce their stress level and make it easier to work together.
You can find the Android version at https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.google.android.apps.translate&hl=en and you can find the iOS version at https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/google-translate/id414706506?mt=8.
Watch the video below to see how it works.