Saturday, June 20

Use Google Translator To Translate OER Into 47 Languages!

"...Of course translation services are vital components
to facilitate the world-wide sharing of educational resources. " - Joseph Hart


"Google Translator Toolkit is part of Google's effort to make information universally accessible through translation. Google Translator Toolkit helps translators translate better and more quickly through one shared, innovative translation technology.

Here's what you can do with Google Translator Toolkit:

  • Upload Word documents, OpenOffice, RTF, HTML, text, Wikipedia articles and knols.
  • Use previous human translations and machine translation to 'pretranslate' your uploaded documents.
  • Use our simple WYSIWYG editor to improve the pretranslation.
  • Invite others (by email) to edit or view your translations.
  • Edit documents online with whomever you choose.
  • Download documents to your desktop in their native formats --- Word, OpenOffice, RTF or HTML.
  • Publish your Wikipedia and knol translations back to Wikipedia or Knol." - Source

"For example, if an Arabic-speaking reader wants to translate a Wikipedia™ article into Arabic, she loads the article into Translator Toolkit, corrects the automatic translation, and clicks publish. By using Translator Toolkit's bag of tools — translation search, bilingual dictionaries, and ratings, she translates and publishes the article faster and better into Arabic. The Translator Toolkit is integrated with Wikipedia, making it easy to publish translated articles. Best of all, our automatic translation system "learns" from her corrections, creating a virtuous cycle that can help translate content into 47 languages, or over 98% of the world's Internet population." - Michael Galvez and Sanjay Bhansali

This video will teach you how to use the Google Translator Toolkit in 1 minute 37 seconds (it is that easy!):

I have been exploring translation software for years, and it just amazes me how much they have improved over the years, especially Google's arsenal of translation tools. For example now, I can easily read any blog in 47 languages and comment back, and the translations seem good (at least understandable). For example, a few weeks back I read a Spanish blog post referring to one of my posts, and then I commented in Spanish using Google translator. I am not 100% sure it was 100% correct, but since then I have got Spanish speaking learning professionals e-mailing me this and that in Spanish.

I suppose English to Arabic, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, etc. might not be as accurate as English to Norwegian (or other European languages), but I am sure it is sufficient to understand, and then we could always use the new toolkit to touch up the remaining 2-10% out of context. When I have used Google's Language arsenal to translate my posts into Norwegian, it is if it is reading my mind about what I want to say (except for a few glitches here and there). It is amazing!

I suppose many translators might say these translation tools are not up to mark, but I suppose they are in a way trying hard to protect their profession and pay. But these tools are going to get better and better, and if they aren't using such tools to speed up their translation work, or simply aren't that good (at translation), they better start looking for a new job and profession. Be smart, use the tools and add your contextualized expertise to perfect the translation (99.97%).

Also, this growing collection of freely available translation tools are going to do wonders in translating Open Educational Resources (OER) to 47 languages (over 98% of the world's Internet population). Let's use these tools to globalize OER into everyone corner of the world. At least 98% of it!

Translation professionals out there, don't be proud and stubborn, start using Google translator kit (or other better alternatives out there!)! You might argue, it was bad before, but they are getting better, and they might within a few years challenge you word for word to the extreme. Master them now, so when they eventually meet your expectations, you are ready. If you are already using such tools, RESPECT!

Finally, if I had to sum up my opinion on Google's translator toolkit using just one word, it would be:


I mean: Imponente! Ehrfürchtig! Fryktinngytende! Génial! Mengagumkan!مرعب! 可怕的! Nakakabilib! Impressionante! 恐ろしい! Φοβερός!Милый! Dehşet verici! ดีเลิศ! 훌륭한! Imponerende! Ontzagwekkend!

Hopefully, it translated correctly :)


Anonymous said...

You are right, it is amazing how far the development has come. The sad thing is that it has started a run for the bottom, where ok is good enough and everyone has bought into the crock that the number of documents translated trumps accuracy and idiomatic correctness. If you ever have post-edited machine-produced or amateur-produced garbage you know that this is what hell must be like. From an economic standpoint, it takes more time and money to fix it than to translate it right the first time around, and in most cases it is close to impossible to make something good out of a terrible translation. So I really don't get the economic argument either. I can only suggest to my colleagues to move into subject areas where the fear of law suits will keep out amateurs and machine translations for a while longer. Oh, btw, "ehrfürchtig" it isn't. But that won't matter anymore once Google is setting the standard in 47 languages.

Zaid Ali Alsagoff said...

Dear Anonymous (secret?),

Thanks and I really appreciate that a professional voices his/her opinion here regarding computer translations.

I suppose the provocative way (Devil's Advocate)I wrote the post, it would get a reaction, and it did :)

My first question would be: Have you tried Google's new translation toolkit? If not, you should do that before making further arguments, or they would probably be self-defeating.

I remember before humans were arguing that machines could never beat them at chess, because bla, bla, bla, etc. But now how many humans can beat a computer on chess if they try the most advanced level.

I would argue that computers will sooner or later (I predict in 2-4 years) do the same with language translation. Although, the algorithms to crack something like language is much tougher than chess, it will eventually (even contextualization!). And I think that is wonderful (if it comes true), because it will enable people to learn the world's explicit knowledge available in their preferred language.

I suppose there will be translation jobs for more sophisticated knowledge, art, poetry, etc., but general knowledge and most subjects taught in Universities and schools will be translated in real-time by computers (with humans fine-tuning the glitches, in a wiki kind of way) . Now, this is important as many subjects will increasingly need to be updated before, during and after a semester or learning period.

"... move into subject areas where the fear of law suits will keep out amateurs and machine translations for a while longer."

Why do that?

I suppose translation software has that 'Made in China' or in the past 'Made in Japan' stamp written all over it. But in 10-15 years time 'Made in China' will probably be associated with quality, reliability, durability, etc. as it evolves. If you don't believe me, just look at how Japan transformed themselves.

The old mindsets will still have that negative perception implanted in their brains, but the new mindsets will not.

Hopefully, you will come back to make your points, but let's think creatively and embrace these new tools to create symbiotic relationships, enabling the world to enjoy the world's knowledge translated by machines and humans together.

Human translators will certainly be able to make money, but they will have to adjust and move up the value chain.

Cheers again, and have a great day learning :)

Warm Regards,


fengfk2008 said...


提供上千種成人商品線上購物服務--專營情趣商品、男女自慰用品、性感睡衣、情趣用品批發、自慰套、SM商品、逼真情趣娃娃、跳蛋、按摩棒、同志用品、TENGA飛機杯..,可線上刷卡及貨到付款。 ... 收到的東西會有情趣用品的字樣嗎? 轉帳之後,如何通知這筆款項是我付的