The Desktop Translator
Desktop Translator is a program that translates from English to Spanish, French, Italian, German and Portuguese, and from French, Spanish, and German into English. One can translate typed text, dictated text, files, documents, Web pages and e-mail into a selected language. Using a technique called Machine Translation, Desktop Translator translates a word in relation to sentence structure and parts of speech rather than translating words in isolation. The result is a higher level of accuracy and comprehension.
Desktop Translator can be viewed in four different ways: as a toolbar on the desktop, an agent in the Windows taskbar, a notepad window, or a dictation window. It also appears as a menu item in Microsoft Word and Corel WordPerfect.
In the Toolbar view, Desktop Translator appears as a small window in which the user can access the Web page translator and clipboard translator buttons, dictionary sequence and select a Web browser to translate Web pages in.
In the Agent view, Desktop Translator appears as a small icon on the Windows taskbar. Users can click on the icon and get a popup menu of all the translation features that are available in the Toolbar view.
In the notepad view, Translator appears in two separate halves. In the top half, users enter the text that needs to be translated. The text can either be typed or copied from another word processing document. Once finished, a simple click of a button translates the text in the preferred language to the bottom half.
The dictation view looks very similar to the notepad view except that a microphone meter is added to the toolbar that flashes when sound is being recorded. The flashing is color coordinated; it shows green when the sound quality is good and shows red when the sound quality is poor or too loud.
Desktop Translator also fits right into the Microsoft Word and Corel Word toolbars. Translating text is as simple as selecting the text to be translated and choosing the preferred language. The document retains its formatting.
Desktop Translator can easily be integrated into the existing curriculum of all teachers. In the past, Desktop Translator may only have been a great resource for ESOL or bilingual teachers, but with the growing popularity of the inclusive classroom, all teachers are being asked to teach children whose primary language is not English. By using Desktop Translator, teachers can produce handouts in students primary language, compose letters in parents primary language, make Web pages readable in students primary language and even go as far as using the program as a translator for parent conferences. Administrators can use Desktop Translator to publish the school newsletter, School Improvement Plan, Dress Code, and Code of Conduct in different languages.
The software is simple to install; the CD is set up for autorun and users select a few simple choices for the program to install. The best view (toolbar, agent, notepad and dictation) to use depends on the users preference; however, the agent view is the least intrusive and gives users the full desktop to use. The dictation portion of the software is done by Dragon Naturally Speaking. This portion of the program involves a lot of initial setup because the program needs to acclimate itself to your speech pattern, speech quality and vocabulary.
The online/onscreen help that is integrated in the program is very helpful in pointing users in the right direction and is written in easily understood language. Overall, the program is very user friendly, very powerful and should be a welcome addition in many school settings.
This article originally appeared in the 12/01/1999 issue of THE Journal.