Lost words! Exploring the challenges of translation

ADE Institute 2023 provided me with an insight that has had an immeasurable impact on my practice in my classroom. During Showcases, presenters spoke in their native languages, as English speakers we had to use the headsets available for the Showcases to be translated in to English. This experience not only enhanced the ADE stories, as their passion and experiences were conveyed more convincingly as they were not battling with the challenge of speaking in a language that was not their first language. Sitting in the audience, listening to these amazing stories made me consider how my pupils felt, when I'm stood at the front of the classroom giving instruction in English and expecting them to complete tasks like any other pupil. I am fortunate enough to be in a visual subject where I demonstrate expectations as well as talking about standards, however, they are not having the same learning experience. Along with the introduction to the use of the Translate App at Institute, I considered how I could use this tool in my classroom.

As a school, we have a large number of EAL pupils and many of those are refugees, this comes with the obvious challenges of language barriers to learning. So based on my experiences at Institute I have ensured that I am using the Translate App to support my Ukranian pupils. I have started by using the conversation feature with my pupils to explain content of the lesson and success criteria. I have then used the camera feature in the translate app to translate good examples of work to role model to the students and translated writing support frameworks to help the students understand the content they need to write their critical annotations, these have then been added to their Google Classroom so they are supported in the same way as the other pupils in the class.


A conversation translated from English into Russian
A document translated into Russian
An example of pupils work, it contains a drawing of a crushed drinks can and then written work evaluating their drawing
An example of pupils work, a drawing of a crushed drinks can and written work evaluating the drawing translated into Russian

I am still in the early stages of developing the use of the app in my classroom, but I have already seen an improvement in the engagement of these pupils in class. I aim to develop this approach the whole school for our staff and pupils to engage with.

All Replies

Posted on October 04, 2023

Laura, thanks so much for showing us how you are using the Translation app. Pretty powerful and helpful to see. You’ve inspired me to take more steps in using this app!

Posted on October 05, 2023

It is amazing how Translate apps have changed so much. I live near the border of Mexico and we have a large population of students whose primary language is Spanish, and I have seen the Translate app as a tool that helps them with their learning.

I know personally, the Translate apps saved me on my trip to France a few years ago.

Thank you for sharing.

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