Real Time Translation is the Bomb

speech-picPart of the work I do is keeping up with and examining trends in technology and education. Before I recommend anything to our staff, I will try it out myself. I do so in order to keep our educators from spending the time and effort on technology that may be a big waste or not right for our needs. Occasionally, I come across something truly exciting. Today was one of those days. I found Microsoft Presentation Translator.

I know I said I was going to stop blogging about Microsoft and add something on Photoshop, but I need to share this with you because it is a game changer. I will do a Photoshop post on my regular posting day (Tuesday), but felt the urge to add this right away.

I found the add-in while reading an article, from Inside Higher Ed, titled, Looking Back on This Year’s Classroom Experiment. A professor from Rochester Institute of Technology had a great experience with Presentation Translator because it made it easy for students to see a live translation in many languages on their own screens and it provided a transcript in the language for future viewing. So, I decided to check it out.

Here’s what I found/learned/experienced:

  • It’s a free add-in available from the Microsoft download site.
  • It only works with Windows. Sorry MAC people!
  • There are different versions. There is one for education, which is the one I chose for obvious reasons.
  • I had trouble with the installation and after some consultation with one of our IT people, we decided to uninstall Office 2016 and install Office 365. This worked. Previously, it was trying to download the 32bit version and it wouldn’t work on my computer. With 365 it used the 64bit installation and that worked well. Thankfully, that was my only issue!
  • Once you install it, open a presentation. It will appear in your ribbon.

When you are ready to use:

  • Click on “Start Subtitles”. presenter-ribbon
  • Choose the language you will be speaking and the language you wish the subtitles to appear in on screen. You will want to share the language that is best for most of the audience. For example, if 90% of your audience speaks Spanish, you will want to have your subtitles appear in Spanish. If you don’t speak Spanish and wish to be able to read your subtitles as you go, it’s ok. The participants will be able to translate to the language of their choice on their own devices.language-choice3
  • When you choose to add subtitles, a slide is created that will show at the beginning of your presentation with information (and a bar code) for the participants to scan to get their own translation – real time.translation-link
  • The audience can watch and listen to your presentation while also having the translation appear on their device. A transcript will be saved for later viewing as well!
  • You may also want to turn off the subtitles at certain points in the presentation and may do so by clicking the stop button on the translation box. You may start again when ready.


  • Another great option is to make multiple copies of your presentation by translating it into different languages. Just click, translate slides > choose the languages (from and to) and then click translate slides again. It creates a copy of your presentation with a slightly different name. For example, with my adult learning presentation, it added a _en_ru to the end of slide name when I chose to translate it from English to Russian. It also did a really good job.

After spending some time with this software, I can say that it is a really wonderful opportunity to meet the needs of your students to whom English is a second language and also those who have learning challenges, such as Dyslexia or reading/hearing challenges. I also love that it creates a transcript. I often want to go over a presentation later in my own time. This way I can without having to ask the presenter.

A few things to keep in mind if you are going to use this add-in:

  • Get yourself a good microphone. In a group setting there is likely to be a lot of background noise and this can influence your translation. The article I read suggested the Jabra Pro 930. It is a wireless headset that is good at 300 feet, which is particularly important if you plan to move around as you speak. The headset costs $124.95 on Amazon. The Jabra Stealth Bluetooth Headset at $75.00 is cheaper but only good to 30 feet. You will find the full list of recommended headsets from Microsoft here.
  • You will want to test your location and the software at the location BEFORE your planned presentation time. Nothing is more frustrating than trying to present something new and exciting and having it fail in real time.
  • If you can find out your audience language preferences ahead of time that would be a great timesaver for everyone.

Give the software a try and let me know what you think. See you on Tuesday for a Photoshop presentation – I promise!



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