Vancouver Public Schools (VPS) now uses Microsoft Translator to translate the pages on its website. At the bottom of each web page is a grey box that says, “Translate this page.” A drop-down menu then lists more than 30 languages for page translation.
What is computer translation?
Computer software can translate texts automatically from one language to another. A computer program can learn word-for-word and phrase-for-phrase mappings between two languages, and it can translate texts instantly into the language of a website user. A computer, however, is not a native speaker, and computer-translated texts are not 100 percent accurate. Even people can translate the same sentence in different ways. Although computer translation is not perfect, this translation tool can help non-native speakers understand the information on a website.
If computer translation is not always accurate, why is the school district using it?
Research shows that parent involvement in school can help students learn. Parents who do not speak English may have a difficult time accessing information about their student’s school and getting involved in their children’s education. Translating the entire district website into the most common languages and maintaining the currency of that information would be cost-prohibitive. As a result, the district is using Microsoft Translator to support the needs of families.
Vancouver Public Schools would appreciate any feedback about the computer translation tool. Please send your feedback to: firstname.lastname@example.org.