I was pleasantly surprised when a friend sent me the link to this week’s EDU in 90. The episode, entitled “Innovate with Google Translate”, is the latest in Google’s minisode series showing off various Google tools and how teachers use them in their classrooms. It can be viewed below:

I’m not quite sure if it was a tweet, or my appearance on Kim Mattina’s “The Suite Talk” podcast, or a random blog post, but I appreciated the shout-out from Google, and the highlighting of this incredible tool.

#1: Gmail + Google Translate

I tell my students and parents to email me in any language. If an email isn’t written in English, Gmail will often recommend translating it into English, but you can also access it from the three dot menu on any email.

I would be very transparent with your parents about this, only because the translation isn’t perfect. Earlier this year, I had a parent, who would email me in Polish, I would reply in English and Google-translated Polish. At report card pick-up, after some awkwardness, she realized I didn’t speak Polish, and she laughed. To be frank, she didn’t know what to think of an ELA teacher whose grammar (in Polish) was so atrocious! After that, we still translated emails to one another, but understood if stuff got “lost” in between.

#2: Google Voice + Google Translate

Many of my parents don’t have emails, and would rather call or text. While there are different web apps and programs to try and bridge this gap (Remind and TalkingPoints both come to mind), there’s something so more culturally relevant and easy to handing a parent a local phone number and say “text me in any language.”

Google Voice recently became an add-on for G Suite for Education, meaning teachers can be assigned a local phone number, and leverage Google Voice to be a searchable, communication database with parents. (You can also set it to Do Not Disturb for your work-life balance and mental health.)

If you download the Chrome Google Translate extension, you can use it to translate every text and transcribed voicemail on your Google Voice account. My workflow is three quick steps:

  • Select extension, click “Translate Page”
  • Type your reply (in your native language), then double-click/right-click, select the text to open in a Google Translate page
  • Copy the response, then page to GV, and send.
Google Translate Workflow

Google Translate is an amazing tool for the classroom, and these are just a few parent-communication focused solutions; imagine what you can do in your classroom!

Also, please check out my Google Sheet graphic organizer that leverages the Google Translate formula to give ELL/ESL students a step-by-step way to write longform in any language!