Google Translate

Today I was discussing grammar with my Year 12 students who seemed to take great pleasure in telling me that ‘they looked it up on Google’. Now, I think that Google is a wonderful source of information and I love the authenticity of resources available online, but I am becoming more and more concerned over our students inability (or lack of desire) to look things up in any other way. As a child my mother took great pleasure in taking me to the civic centre library and around local monuments to research history projects, and if I needed a word to complete a homework for Spanish or French I used dictionaries and grammar reference books. I even had thesauruses in multiple languages.

My students today, even at A Level, are content to use Google to translate words. Furthermore they don’t see the point in using a ‘normal’ dictionary very often. I encourage my students to use www if they must look it up online, but still the wonder of looking through a book is lost. There are so many words that I’ve stumbled across whilst originally searching for something else in a book and the invention of the Internet stops this from happening as much.
I would like to reiterate that I love the Internet and what it offers, but I wish ‘books’ didn’t have to become obsolete (in young people’s eyes anyway). Maybe a Kindle per student with textbooks, dictionaries and grammar books are the way forward?

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1 Comment

  1. I would definitely agree that students are too quite to jump to Google and (worse) google translate. However, I’m kind of on their side when it comes to looking stuff up online vs in a book. I didn’t own a German or French dictionary for years because wordreference and leo.org or beolingus were far faster and more readily accessible to me – I always have my phone, but I don’t always have the ability to carry a dictionary with me. And with the forum posts and questions on these sites, I find them in general to be much more helpful than the standard dictionary. Just like you have with books, I’ve stumbled upon lots of new words or topics because of something I looked up… online.

    I agree the challenge is getting students away from an overuse of Google, but instead we should be providing them with the appropriate online resources that they need (since that’s their preferred method).

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