CONCEPT: Augmented reality translation tool!
DELIVERY: When traveling to a new country one of the greatest concerns is always how will I know the language? Will I be able to translate the signs or items on the menu? Well if you have a mobile device on you consider your problems solved with the handy app Word Lens. Last week Google acquired Quest Visual, the makers of Word Lens, an augmented reality translation app. With Quest Visual and Google combining forces the potential for this app in the classroom and beyond could be incredible. As of now Word Lens offers support for the following languages – English, Spanish, French, Italian, Russian, Portuguese and German. While the app itself is free you do have to pay for the language packs, although for a limited time during the transition they are offering the language packs for free.
Once you have chosen the language you would like to translate to all you have to do is hold your camera up to the screen and it will instantly translate for you. If you like you can even take a picture of the translation and share it. The best part of all is that you do not have to be connected to Wi-Fi in order for this to work. It is this instant translation feature that really sets Word Lens apart from other translation apps that are out there.
The potential for this in the World Languages classroom is significant. Last week while watching an EdTechTeacher webinar with guest Courtney Pepe, she demonstrated how easily Google Glass integrated with Word Lens. She was able to translate an English newspaper into Italian (take a look at 47:00)!
While you immediately think Word Lens to be great for the foreign language classroom, it can also prove to be a very valuable tool for the English language learner struggling to grasp key words. This app is a great way for a child to feel more confident in an environment where they are not familiar with the language and the instant translation is a great way for them to build their vocabulary!
LIMITATIONS: This app works great for signs/posters/menus that have larger letters. If you are trying to read a book or are holding the lens up to text that is stylized in any way, you may find the app to not work as smoothly. Moreover, you need to keep your hand relatively still otherwise you will find that the app sometimes flashes in and out of the translation. We are excited to see where this app is headed and are looking forward to more languages being added!
CONCLUSION: Overall a great app to use if you are traveling or if you would like to engage in some futuristic activities in a foreign language. 3/5
Have students create posters for a gallery walk
Have students use it on trips when visiting different countries
Great tool for the English language learner or any child in a school setting where they language is foreign to them