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Video Tutorials of Translation Tools to Help Teachers Communicate with ELLs and Their Families

Video Tutorials of Translation Tools to Help Teachers Communicate with ELLs and Their Families

Many teachers with English language learners (ELLs) know the challenges of effectively communicating with students and parents who are not English speakers. Even ELLs with an advanced level of English proficiency may find it difficult to navigate online learning platforms or translate school documents for their families that use unfamiliar technical language.

Here’s where technology can help teachers and students overcome language barriers. In this post, we’ll discuss translation tools found in popular applications used in education, as well as provide brief video tutorials explaining how to use the tools.   

Google Translate

Google Translate offers three types of translating features: via a website, a Google Chrome browser extension, and a mobile app.

The Google Translate website offers translation in 109 languages and allows you to paste text or full documents for translation. There’s also a listen feature (microphone icon) that allows you to hear the translations aloud.

Video by Russell Stannard

The Google Translate extension for the Google Chrome browser is free and is helpful if your students are frequent Chrome users or have Chromebooks. Clicking on the extension allows you to quickly translate phrases or to translate entire webpages.  

Video by Greg Zelinske

The Google Translate app is also free and available for iOS and Android devices. The app allows you to translate text, images, voices, and handwriting. You can even download language files so that you can continue using the app even when offline.

Video by Steve Dotto

Microsoft Translator

Microsoft Translator supports more than 70 languages for text translation and currently integrates with the following Microsoft Office programs: Word, Excel, OneNote, PowerPoint, Outlook, Publisher, and Visio. For Microsoft Word in particular, you can choose between translating a specific selection of text or the entire document (which creates a translated copy of your document). Learn more about Microsoft’s Translator for Education which offers features like the conversation feature that translates live, in-person conversations for parents and school staff.

Video by Technology for Teachers and Students


Zoom, a video-conferencing platform, offers a Zoom language interpretation feature that involves scheduling a live interpreter, but it is only available for Zoom accounts that have a business enterprise plan or a webinar add-on plan.

Video by Joseph Adams


Blackboard, a virtual learning environment and learning management system, offers a feature for its Blackboard Learn product that translates email and text in over 60 languages and text-to-speech phone calls in over a dozen.

Video by Blackboard, Inc.


Canvas, a web-based learning management system, offers a selection of 37 language preferences and Microsoft’s Immersive Reader feature that allows students to translate documents in another language.

Video by Tulsa Public Schools


Moodle, an open-source learning management system, offers over 100 language packs that administrators can install on their Moodle sites.

Video by Dr. Nellie Deutsch Ed.D

As mentioned in many of the video tutorials, you may encounter some inaccuracies with the translation tools if a live translator isn’t involved. Still, these tools will assist in communicating with ELL students and their families in their native languages. Looking for more ELL tips? Check out 8 Ways to Support ELL Students Virtually!