Let’s Play “Bad Google Translate”!

The first time we played “Game of Quotes” in class last year, I was so excited about the way it got students re-reading the text to find answers to the prompts. I knew I wanted to incorporate more activities that encouraged re-reading this year! Last week we did “Freeze Find“. And this week we tried a game of “Bad Google Translate”!

We have finished Huellas 1.1 Bajo la mesa and are reading Kristy Placido’s biography of Frida Kahlo. Now that we’re at the end of the book, I wanted to revisit some of the scenes to help review the storyline.

First, I read through the book and selected 10 events I wanted to review.

Then I created a slide show. I read the line in the text in Spanish and then created an English equivalent that expressed the meaning of the sentence without giving any direct translations.

Students had to search the book for the sentence that had been poorly translated. They’ve already read all of these chapters, so the events were great triggers to get them to the right chapter… then it was just hunting for the exact line!

When the groups had found their sentences, they revealed the answers. Any correct answers were awarded one point. At the end of the game, the winning team got to leave the room first and everyone applauded them as they left.

This was so easy to make and so much fun to play. Give it a try with a text you’re using in your classroom. Teach English? An alternative for translation would be “Bad AI summaries”. Create short summaries that represent a paragraph of the text. Students then search the text to identify the paragraph that matches the bad summary.


  1. I LOVE a new game that makes them re-read! Feeling a little slow, though… was your English sentence poorly translated? I am missing the “Bad Google Translate” part. Could you play with good translations? That would still make them re-read, wouldn’t it?

    • You totally could just translate to English and have them find the sentence, but I tried to make my “not literal translations” a little more abstract so they’d have to really think and not just search out a specific word! Ex. Más tarde en la vida, Frida tuvo suficientes animales como para tener un zoológico. I made the “bad google translate” When she was an adult, no one could stop Frida from having pets.

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