When I came across Word Lens at the beginning of the school year, I was immediately impressed. It was incredible how the software on my i-Phone worked and even with printed handwriting. Once, while trying to communicate with a Spanish speaking parent, I couldn’t get the message through. Using the Word Lens app and Post-It Note, communication was accomplished! I have really thought about this tool since that day and wondered how English Language Learners (ELL) could benefit from this technology. Predicting that this acquisition was a key move on Google’s part to incorporate it fully into the Glass platform, it will be some time before Glass devices are affordable to schools. Hoping that Google’s “Do no harm” mantra will continue, this app may find its way into the Google Apps for Education within Chrome and could be a staple on the millions of Chromebooks in schools for the 14-15 school year.
In order for students to use the translator, there needs to be a solution around the usefulness of the camera. In its current state, students would have to hold up the text or book and read over it while viewing the computer screen.
A work around would be to utilize a light, portable, durable USB document camera that would sit to the side of the Chromebook and translate text in real time making books, directions, vocabulary accessible to the emerging language learner.
The best part? If you have an Android or iOS device, the App is currently free as are all the language packs which are usually priced at $3 each. I guess it’s time to put those aging i-Phones to good use.