TAKING THE FUNNY OUT: correct use of on-line translation tools
On-line access to a free, quick, and relatively accurate translation is hard to beat. The only problem (well, perhaps not the only one) is that it’s not that accurate, mostly ungrammatical, and often ill-fitting both in terms of context and content. To an unsophisticated lay user (a typical undergraduate student in Israel), Google translate and Morfix is a tricky territory and a great source of nonsensical literal translations and laughs among teachers. The sad thing is beneath it all lies a lack of a true knowledge of the language, of the complexity of the text and of the context. The frustration is great. The traditional approach of teaching vocabulary can no longer compete with the technology at your fingertips. One can only try.
The challenge: overcoming a handicap of Google translate and the Morfix dictionary app and website. The outcome: becoming a more savvy user of a language translation app.
Pedagogical value: can be used as diagnostic, formative, and summative assessment.
Selling it to students: ways to avoid numerous embarrassing gaffes in their academic and/or professional lives.
The following task (can be done individually and/or in pairs) was created for an advanced EAP blended course at Ruppin Academic Center as a both diagnostic and formative graded assignment with a three-fold objective: 1. Introduce students to an online collaborative task (via Google Docs) 2. Assess students’ understanding of basic vocabulary concepts and meta-language 3. Provide both positive online wash-back effect and scaffolding to encourage a more conscientious vocabulary learning.
ADDITIONAL (OPTIONAL) PEDAGOGICAL VALUE*** SUMMATIVE: developing meta-language for learning/discussing vocabulary; creating awareness of linguistic intricacies at word/sentence/context levels.