Google Translate, The Ipad and my ELL Students

collageI have always heard that mathematics is the unifying language of us all, meaning that if I were to take a math class in another country, I could do it because the math is the same. I need anyone reading this to understand that this is NOT the case!

I even took a math class from a teacher in 100% spanish. I was LOST.

Least year, I was fortunate to be the teacher that would receive all students new to our country in Algebra 1. I had 12 students from Mexico and none of them spoke English. Their classroom had a total of 31 students at varying levels of learning. Luckily I had a teacher in the room that would be there to help translate as needed.

To say that technology was critical to their success is an understatement. We could not communicate with each other and for a person, like myself, bent on communicating…it was difficult.

Here is how we did it…

Google Translate

Every student wants to hear their name and be told hello! I broke the ice by talking to them in their language. Now, when you do this, be prepared for them to respond back…IN THEIR LANGUAGE. It was so much fun learning back and forth. It’s even better when students can use the same tool as well. They were learning English and I was learning Spanish. Eventually, we communicated in Spanglish, which is the combination of the two…until we could finally get to English and to this day, they are still learning.

The Ipad

The apps available on our ipad far exceeded any printed spanish/english dictionary. First of all, we could access Google translate. We did not use the ipad for language apps though. This is where our students created their videos using the showme app.

First I had students create a script. For my ELL students, this was sometimes done in their home language and it was ok. They would then translate it into English. Their translations were done either collaboratively or using Google Translate. I can’t think of another way that their learning could have possibly been more meaningful, especially since they wrote their own problems. Enjoy! We did 🙂

Below are a couple of their videos on simplifying monomials.

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