As ESL teachers we all have students who come to our class with zero to very little knowledge of English. The communication barrier is such that we sometimes regret not ever having to have a working knowledge of another language.
Yes, I have a number of newcomers who are in my class each year. Every time I look into their eyes, I could tell there is so much they want to say but they just couldn’t find the right words to say them. And guess what, the feeling is mutual. I grope for words – words in Spanish, just so I could at least say something they can understand.
Well, thanks to technology, we can now find a good number of translation apps that can save our day in the classroom.
What I do is let my ESL newcomers use the iPad in order to translate my directions or their classwork assignments in their native language. Translations are not always perfect, but they have provided me and my newcomers a way to communicate.
So here are three of the apps that you may want to try:
1. iTranslate- Designed specifically for iPhone and iPad,, this translation tool has over 90 languages to choose from with a voice output that lets you select between a male or a female voice and even control the speech rate for some language. It also has a dictionary that gives you various meanings of a certain word and it allows you to share your translation vía Facebook or Twitter. The downside, of course, is that with the free app you can only tupe the words that need to be translated. If you need a voice input, you have to pay for it and all other premium features.
2. Conversation Master – this app serves as a language learning as well as a translator app. Available in 10 languages, this app has built-in Q & A styled expressions made for real conversations and arranged in different categories. With the free app, you are only allowed one free category which is the Conversation category, so, you need to purchase the PRO versión to access all other features. But do not fret. Just use the “interpretation” function to tupe in words, phrases, or sentencies that need to be translated to another language. You can also listen to the translated words.
3. Speak & Translate – So far my most favorite translating app, this tool allows you to do text-to-text, text-to-speech, and voice-to-voice translations. My beginning English language learners love this app because of these aforementioned features that are available for free. However, there is only a limited number of translations that you can do per day, and that becomes its downside. Otherwise, this is my most recommended app.
Please be reminded, though, that these tools require an internet connection for you to use them.