With the travel brochure project in French II, I had a few kids who obviously used an online translator, and one of them I still don’t know why, because he is a great student and easily could have done the work. They earned low grades (I’ve started to change my mindset and realize I do not “give grades”. Students “earn them” (or not))…and I did offer them the option to write out new appropriate sentences for a few points more.
Present day, I have a project due in the French III class where they either had to make a collage, a video, or a song to describe themselves and a friend. It involves the past, present, and future tense, which should not be too difficult for French III students. They had to describe what they and their friends are like now, what they will do in the future (job, profession, school), and share a specific story (using past and imperfect tense) they experienced together.
Only one pair of students decided to do a song. And I let the students have some time to work on these projects in class. I checked over a lot of students’ lines, but it is difficult with 34!!! students in a French III class. I saw a few of the boys’ lines and thought they were making up a song and I was pretty excited. Anytime I later asked them if they had questions they said they were fine.
After class I get to look through what students turned in. I look at their lyrics and quickly see that it is a French translation of the Beatles song “I Want to Hold Your Hand”. I quickly pop the cd they gave me into a cd player to see if they did what I feared.
They did- they sang “I Want to Hold Your Hand” in French.
I looked at the translation and optimistically hoped that they actually did the translating. It had future and present tense, but no past tense. So that was the first part that was not to the specifications of the project.
Fast forward. I’m a young, modern teacher, who warned them not to use online translators because I would find out. Not only did they not make up stories, I found the exact site with the exact lyrics that they turned in. So now the recording that I had thought was kind of endearing and was going to be hard to ask them to change goes to the dark side.
Not only did they not do the assignment right, they cheated, and their song isn’t even that good in retrospect. So they took a few minutes to look up French lyrics, used their computer to play the song quietly in the background and they sang in French. And the translation they found is not that great.
Tomorrow I will let these students know that that quickly I found them out, exact site (because of little things like “svp” instead of writing out “s’il vous plait” or “yeh” (which I had thought was cute of them before, but now I see it’s just a copy and paste pukefest of cheating)). It is just so difficult. To understand. And to deal with it in a diplomatic way. I guess just calling them out and making them do a project that resembles work will be challenging and embarrassing enough.
The Children. Do they not realize I was just a child recently too? My tech-savvy skills are not to be messed with.
A key tip-off that students used a translator is when there is a questionable word that looks suspiciously like an English word, misspelled, that didn’t make it through the translation machine. And they did not even bother to check it over after that.
Okay. I have to go de-stressify somehow. I don’t know how. I guess it probably will not happen until I am done with student teaching.
I will put in more of the positive experiences after I’m done, but this was too good not to mention. Kids! I’m not sure what’s the worst part- the lack of work ethic and effort, or the fact that they actually think I’m not going to notice?