BBC Translation Experiment

BBC Translation Experiment

Language Students Take Part In BBC Translation Experiment

If foreign languages leave you lost in translation than smart phones could be the answer according to a BBC experiment featuring Kensington and Chelsea College students.

Language students at the college’s Hortensia Campus teamed up with BBC Radio 4 to find out if technology could out perform dictionaries and phrase books when it came to translating foreign languages.

Six students- Geoffrey Hugall, Glenda Amato, Sheila Benson, Cerstin Maryk, Antonette Scott and Judith Thomas – took part in the experiment in the studios at Broadcasting House for BBC Radio 4’s technology programme ‘Click. On’.

Split into teams of two the students were asked to translate a piece of French text relying on using either a translation application on a smart phone, online translation guide or a phrase book.

Smart phone applications proved the quickest and easiest method of translation with the least amount of time taken to complete the task and producing the best results.

Online translation resources and websites proved less successful with students finding it difficult to navigate and use the sites. The more traditional phrase books also proved to be time consuming and missing some of the phrases needed to complete the task.

All six students were featured on air on Monday April 5 discussing the findings of their experiment with programme host Simon Cox and a professional translator.

Student Cerstin Maryk, said: ‘It was a really fun way to explore the different options available to people seeking translations. I was surprised by how easy it was to use the translation software on the phone despite having some reservations about it.’

‘However none of the methods used were 100% accurate. As language students we knew that some of the translations that came up were actually inaccurate, however if like most people on holiday you have no knowledge of the language than you’re at the mercy of phrase books and technology to get by!’