BY AARON FOWLES
If you’ve ever been dropped into a foreign country against your will, and then forced to spend eight hours a day surrounded by a language your you’re not familiar with but expected to know, then you might begin to grasp what it’s like to be a student who is an English language learner in the United States.
Babelwith.me attempts to bridge the language barrier automatically and in real time. One person creates a chatroom, which is assigned a random short URL, then distributes that URL to everyone who wishes to participate in the chat. Each user selects their language, then the messages in the room are translated into that language.
So, you might have John writing in English, Jan writing in Polish, Juan writing in Spanish, and Jean writing in French, yet they are all able to communicate (tolerably). Online translation is still a work in progress, and we are nowhere near the universal translator of science fiction.
With your own students, Babelwith.me can be a very powerful tool. If you teach students from many different language backgrounds, consider that these students often spend entire days with each other, yet are largely unable to communicate. Babelwith.me makes that communication quick and easy for them.