Google Translate is a really useful tool, but some teachers say that they have stopped setting written work to be done at home because students are cheating by using it. On a number of occasions I have seen teachers asking what tasks can be set which make the use of Google Translate hard or impossible. Having given this some thought I have come up with one possible Google Translate-beating task type. It's a two way gapped translation exercise where students have to complete gaps in two parallel texts, one in French, one in English. There are no complete sentences which can be copied and pasted into Google.
This is what one looks like. Remember to hand out both texts at the same time.
_____. My name is David. _ __ 15 years old and I live in Ripon, a _____ ____ in the north of _______, near York. I have two _______ and one brother. My brother __ ______ David and my _______ are called Erika and Claire. We live in a _____ house in the centre of ____. In ___ house _____ __ a lounge, four ________, a dining room, a _______, two bathrooms and a garage. We have a small ______ behind the house. In my _______ there is a computer, a TV, a ____, two chairs, a ________, a chest of _______ and, __ _____, a bed. I spend _ ___ __ time in my ____. For example, I __ my homework, I ______ to music, I ____ to my friends on my mobile and I ________ my guitar. In my _____ time I play the guitar, I watch TV, I ____ _______ with my friends at school, I __ ___ at the _______ and I like to read. _________ I help my mother in the _______, but I ___’_ like _______ in the garden.
Bonjour. __ _’_______ David. J'ai 15 ___ et j'______ _ Ripon, une petite ville du ____ de l'Angleterre, ____ __ York. J'ai deux soeurs et un _____. Mon frère s'appelle David et mes soeurs _’_________ Erika et Claire. Nous _________ dans une grande ______ dans le ______ de la ville. Dans notre _______ il y a un _____, quatre chambres, une salle à ______, une cuisine, deux salles de _____ et un garage. Nous _____ un petit jardin ________ la maison. Dans __ chambre il y a un ________, une ____, un bureau, deux _______, une armoire, une commode et, bien sûr, un ___. Je _____ beaucoup de _____ dans ma chambre. Par _______, je fais mes _______, j'écoute de la _______, je parle à mes ____ sur mon ________ et je pratique ma _______. Dans mon temps libre, je ____ de __ guitare, je _______ la télé, je joue au foot avec mes ____ à l'_____, je sors le week-end et j'____ ____. Parfois j'____ __ mère dans la cuisine, mais je n'aime ___ travailler dans le ______.
I think pupils would find this type of task a suitable, puzzle-solving challenge. You could adapt it for various levels of course. The one above might suit low intermediates (Y8-10 in England). If you design your own versions remember to avoid repeating words too often in both texts. You can choose gaps to fit the target structures or vocabulary you want to practise. I am in the process of writing a set of these for frenchteacher.net. You could also break individual words up if you want students to focus on morphology, e.g. verb endings. I assume this type of activity wouldn't work for non-alphabetic languages, however.
You may know that I am not a huge fan of translation as a task, preferring composition writing and communicative activities as far as possible, but this particular version should get round the Google Translate issue, at least up to the point where students wish to check their final version,