Expert Educator Columns, Featured
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Koen Timmers and Angeles Soriano: Breaking Language Barriers via Skype Translator

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by Koen Timmers and Angeles Soriano
Expert Educator Columnists, Belgium and Spain

14:30. Angels just finished her lessons in a sunny Spain. Koen is teaching his class remote in a cloudy Belgium.

Both are meeting up using Skype to collaborate on a column. Except… for this time they are speaking in their own language. Skype Translator is translating their words on the fly. After using this cutting edge tool, both educators are really excited. A wonderful experience.

Let’s move to Belgium.

Koen: The first time you send an email, the first website you visit, your first smartphone, your first Skype Translator call. All unforgetable moments. Let’s take a closer look at this cutting edge tool.

Skype Translator is in preview. You can request an invite at http://www.skype.com/en/translator-preview/. After installing the Windows 8 app, you can choose a voice which will represent you (see above picture).

Later, you can choose your language. Unfortunately Dutch isn’t current supported so the call would happen in Spanish – English.

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Don’t expect Skype to translate your words in text. No they are translate by voice on the fly. This takes a few minutes to get used to, because you have to wait a few moments after speaking some sentences. Funny detail: Skype even translates when you laugh.

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This tools offers definately many opportunities. Conversation between people from very different countries will become possible. Teachers and students will be able to collaborate in their native languages. People don’t have to speak the same language to inspire each other.

It certainly made our day.

Now, what are you waiting for? Request your invite and gain your unforgettable moments.

From Spain: Today I had class until 14:00, I had to move to the staff room to be able to connect on Skype Translator with Koen. It was a form of a “face to face” meeting, by voice. At least, a fellow MIEE with which I have shared many tweets and Facebook messages. I was excited after trying out this new tool.

The feeling has been a little strange, because you can write and speak English; and listen to “Julia” who translates into English or Spanish a few seconds later. And if wrote in Castilian, Koen could read my messages in Dutch: amazing! Almost magic, you could say.

The possibilities in the classroom can be extraordinary: share linguistic companions to practice pronunciation, share projects between countries entirely distant to work cultural aspects, open minds, and build global classrooms, classroom without walls.

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