Quotes From a Third Grade Class: the trouble with Google Translate


Harley Classe

In this weekly column, senior Harley Classe talks about her experiences as a third grade teacher.

Harley Classe, Editor-In-Chief

“Do you like my donkey”

This was said to me during class about two weeks into the school year. No, it was not a bring a fluffy friend to school day. In other words, the students were not allowed to have stuffed animals with them.

We have this student in my class who is an ESL student. He moved from another country with two months left in the 2021-22 school year. However, he is not in any English classes, so at the beginning of the year, he knew very little English.

At first, we would use Google Translate on an iPad. The student would speak into the microphone and it would translate what he was saying into English for us to read. 

However, some words and phrases do not translate exactly. For instance, in order to help him adjust better to his new environment, we have allowed him to carry a small stuffed animal around with him.

If you think about it, being new and having no one understand what you are saying would be hard. This small stuffed animal the size of his fist brings him comfort. He calls it his donkey.

However, this ‘donkey’ is indeed not a donkey. It looks like a mixture between a cow, donkey, and dog. It has horns and ears with a dog face. In reality, it is pretty much a cow.

However, the way the translator works, whatever he calls it, it says it’s a donkey. That is the trouble with technology, it doesn’t always work the way you need it to. That’s just how it is.