Pros and Cons of Using Google Translate to Help you Learn a Language

Learning English 4 May 2012 | 3 Comments

So, you’re learning English and you found a good article on the internet to read.  It’s a little difficult for you to read so you open up google translate to let it do the work for you.  Is this bad? Is this good?  In this post I will try to go through the pros and cons of using Google Translate when you are learning a foreign language.

Pros –

1.  Quick – Google Translate is very quick and if you are in a rush and you need the information fast, then it might be what you need to do.

2.  Aid in learning – Maybe your foreign language skills aren’t perfect and you need help with a few of the words.  You might only use google translate as a dictionary or as a way to guide you in the right direction with your own mental translation.

3.  Opens up a whole new world to you – If you are just beginning to learn a foreign language, Google Translate will help you gain insight into the culture of the people you are studying.  Instead of you having to wait to be able to read articles about that country’s economy, history and current events, you can read them right when you start learning their language especially if you have Google Translate installed on your browser to automatically translate web sites that are not in your native language.

Cons –

1.  Using it as a crutch – Some people use Google Translate with the intention of just helping them a little while they have the intention of doing the bulk of the translation themselves.  But, over time, they just rely on Google Translate more and more until they don’t even try to translate the words themselves any more.

2.  Incorrect translations – Google Translate is only as smart as its code.  It cannot detect the nuances of a language and sometimes it’s just plain wrong!  But, for what it is, it is simply amazing, but it will never be as good as the human brain.  (I know, never say never.  But, this is just my opinion.)

It’s really up to you, what will you do the next time you want to read an article in your target language?

3 Responses on “Pros and Cons of Using Google Translate to Help you Learn a Language”

  1. Google Translate is fine if you need a quick translation as it is reasonably accurate. If you need something more serious, seek professional help.

    Google will not match a professional translator for a long time (if ever). Even professional translators may disagree about how to best translate a certain text!

  2. Ed Orange says:

    I have to be simply honest. No offense, but I hate any translation software and Google one is no exception. Like you said in Cons-2, computers can’t beat human. Computers interpret literal meanings only, but people can interpret the same sentences in various ways. So relying on translation software leads to huge misunderstanding and confusion.
    It may sound so condescending, but beginners tend to rely too much on translation software cos it’s easier for them than looking up their new words and idioms. Of course, it might help get the original meanings and pronunciations on the spot. But there are many other better online dictionaries to remember as many words and phrases as you can. Google translate doesn’t always show accurate meanings sometimes. Online dictionaries beat Google translate. Thus, I don’t see any positives of Google translate. Some may get upset, “Get off your high horse!” if I talk about translation software. But think about it; what if any translation software is correct? Pro interpreters and translators would lose their jobs! That IS a bigger problem!

  3. Yvonne says:

    I agree with both of you. Especially when I know a language pretty well, it’s amazing how many things are just plain wrong. I know a lot of people try to use it as a way to learn though. But, Google still has its place and is sometimes better than nothing when ones needs a quick and easy translation.

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