TEACHING WITH THE ENEMY? A case for Google translator in the WL class.

Photo by Mitchell Luo 

I have mixed feelings about Google translate.  I´m 100% with my colleagues who dislike it to the point to approach their technology integrator at school in order to make sure it has been disabled to students access.  I understand all the teachers who fear that their students will become dependent of it and that they will never be able to acquire the TL if they keep using this crutch. I´m right there with those language professionals who point out at the inaccuracy of the automatic translation.  

While I understand every concern about allowing our students to use Google translator at school or at home, there are a couple of things that make me think twice about the attitude I should have about this resource.  Number one, Google translator is a modern tool, an invention that comes with our times, why should we oppose change? Number two, as a language learner who had to learn English as an adult and outside of the classroom, I found and still find Google translator an excellent tool that allows me to communicate better in my second language.  Especially when I write. I honestly believe that Google translator has done more good than bad for my second language acquisition experience.

But, that’s just me.  I asked my students about the benefits they believe Google translator has in their language acquisition road and this is what they shared.  Please take into account that my students are dedicated, responsible and have very good proficiency levels in the TL. You can see many of them in action in my YouTube channel HERE.

How can google translator or any online translator benefit students´second language acquisition?

Luke: “It helps me understand pieces of questions that are asked in Spanish so I can actually answer the question”

Fisher: “You can play the question out loud so listening to it is often easier than reading it”

Lilly: “Sometimes there are errors in the translations so it´s good for students to see common errors and fix them on their own” (I do this all the time when I write long pieces that I will have to present in English).

Ella Grace: “Google translate is the reason I know some tense conjugations because when they translate, I learn from them.”

Emilie: “It´s a quick way to look up a word. That way you can add more words to your repertoire that you would use while speaking Spanish.  

Gus: “It also helps with special characters! So people don’t make silly mistakes like año and ano” (lol but true!).

So, I invite you to reconsider how “dangerous” Google translator is the WL classroom.  Perhaps my students´feedback can help us define some specific suggestions on how to use and welcome technology, and specifically Google translator in our daily instruction.

You are invited to visit my Teachable classroom where you will find courses for Spanish teachers

Access my classroom HERE

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@Copyright 2020 Diego Ojeda,  this material is intended for educational purposes and it’s free.  It is prohibited to profit from it in any way or form. For questions contact Diego Ojeda @ diego@srojeda.com



  1. I believe Google translate has a useful place in the English as a Second Language classroom, or any classroom where students may come from many different countries and not share a common language. The teacher can be sure her input is comprehensible if they are allowed to check it on their phones.


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