How I Use It
These days, students do not carry around language to language dictionaries, instead they turn to sites like google translate where they can search a word (or words) and the site will spit out the translation. I think Google Translate has merit for one word searches, but things can get really lost in translation when more than one word is searched at a time. Additionally, the fact that students could put more than one word in at a time discourages them from breaking the sentence down and learning as much as they can both grammatically and verbally from it in order to gain meaning. I think that google translate occasionally has merit with advanced students who are reading complicated texts and are looking for translations of idiomatic sentences and/or know enough of the vocabulary and grammar to understand when google translate may be leading them astray.
Overall, google translate is not my preferred online dictionary for Spanish to English translations. Instead, I much rather send my students to spanishdict.com as it only allows one word translations, offers conjugation assistance, and suggests different words based on specific use, dialect, and region. Finally, spanishdict.com also has grammar guides which can be helpful for students and teachers alike. I think google translate could better serve kids by providing some of these types of services, particularly more etymological information about the words that it is translating as students may come across or desire to use words that are outdated or simply not used in the general lexicon of the language they are learning. Basically, I think that google translate needs to move away from direct in and out translation and instead allow students to use a little critical thinking to appropriately decipher a sentence or construct one of their own.