Google Translate for School Websites

Adding Google Translate to your school website will allow your parents whose first language is not English to instantly translate a page into their native language. (Well, hopefully their native languages are included in the 100 currently supported and available for translation).

We’ve recently seen a strong upsurge in interest from schools who wish to add the Google translator to their website. Anecdotally, schools have told us that Ofsted see it as a useful aid to parental engagement for those schools with parents whose first language is not English. The good news is that we can add it for free if you ask us at the design stage.

For the user, the process is simple; they select their desired language from a dropdown list and the page instantly appears in that language. How does this magic work? Well, a lot better than it did when it first appeared in 2006, when it was rule based and outsourced. Since 2007 it has used a process called Statistical Machine Translation, and because of the statistical learning techniques involved it’s been getting better and better since.

Basically billions of words of text with known translations were analysed and statistical rules built. The original sources were UN documents which were routinely translated into 6 languages. Since then Google have used a combination of its own search data and also feedback from its own translations. In fact anyone can suggest a better translation. There’s a great video here:

The upshot is a free translation service for every page of your website which, whilst not absolutely perfect, is more than comprehensible and is getting better all the time.
You can see some examples of our school websites using Google Translate here:

Google PetAnd don’t forget the pets of your families. Those nice people at Google have a translator for them too.


Editor’s note: This post originally appeared in October 2012 and has been rewritten and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.


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