Mega-search engine Google offers teachers two resources that can promote greater efficiency. If you’re not already using Google Voice and Google Translate, you may not be operating at full capacity!
Google Voice. Google Voice allows you to have an alternate phone number. For good and bad reasons, teachers are often required to call students’ homes. These calls are often made from teachers’ homes in the evenings, when parents and teachers are most likely to be at home. Most people these days have telephones that allow the caller, and their contact information, to be identified. This decreased anonymity can be particularly frustrating, for example, when a teacher is delivering information about a student’s persistently bad behavior.
Google Voice allows users to choose an alternate phone number they can give out to people. The alternate phone number shows up on others’ devices. Users can make and receive calls, and text, through Google Voice. Best of all: Google Voice is free, and can be cancelled at any time—for example, at the end of the school year. Another feature—that actually does not work so well—is message translation. When users receive a call, they get the text of the message delivered to their phone, and an e-mail that notifies them that a new message has been received and which includes the text of the message. Users can listen to the message via e-mail, or through the phone to which they have chosen to have phone calls forwarded.
Sign-up is simple and free. It takes less than five minutes. All you do is log into, or sign up for, a Google account, choose a phone number, and indicate the phone number to which you wish calls to be forwarded.
A few other slight disadvantages are that users are not able to customize the voice mail incoming callers hear; there is no way to distinguish between Google Voice callers and people who have your real phone number; and there is no way to keep contact information for Google Voice callers separate. But these minor inconveniences are nothing compared to the security of knowing that your personal phone number is safe, and that you can cancel use at any time without paying a fee.
Google Translate. Google Translate allows users to translate words, phrases, or sentences. The selection of languages is amazing. This is particularly important for New York City public school teachers, who often interact with children and families from a variety of cultures. Google Translate even allows you to hear the correct pronunciation of the text you have translated, and to save translations for later use.
Google Translate can also be a good resource for language teachers. Teachers may instruct their students to use it to create sentences, or check their work.
Inner city New York City public school teachers, for instance, may interact with many Latino students. Here are some statements, you may find useful—and here’s a sample of what Google Translate can do:
I am [insert your name here]. I will be your child’s teacher this year.
Yo soy [insert your name here]. Yo seré el maestro de su niño este año.
Your child has a lot of potential, but his behavior needs to improve.
Su hijo tiene un gran potencial, pero su comportamiento debe mejorar. (Remember: You always say something nice before delivering news that may not be so pleasant.)
I am proud of your child’s improvement. Keep up the good work.
Estoy orgulloso de la mejora de su hijo. Mantener el buen trabajo.
Google Translate won’t help with your comprehension, so users are not recommended to try to engage in full-length conversations with people who speak unfamiliar languages without a translator, but for people who are fluent and who are constantly exposed to particular languages, Google Translate can assist.
Thank you, Google!