From my field experience in public school classrooms, I have notice a decline in translation as homework and more class and collaborative translations being done in class. While it is better for the student to have a Latin expert within reach, there are troubling undertones of the reasoning behind only having translations as class work and not home practice.
When I asked other teachers why they did not assign translation as homework, most responded with “because they will just look for the translation online.” There is more to be taught if that is the reasoning. For one, there is the lesson of honor and integrity. A verbal and even written warning should be given to the students to know that using an online translation is considered cheating, and will be treated as such. Secondly, looking up the translation does not do any good for the student, and not just in regard to their ability to translate. If a student becomes dependent on the work of others in one subject, what is to stop the spread to the next? Student work ethic suffers when they rely on online translations.
The comparisons of translations that I use all include readily found translations of the passages. I know that passages from well-known Latin textbooks are even more readily available through searches. However, just because the tools are there, does not mean we should stop challenging to do it themselves.
I have seen alternative methods to translation as homework and as classwork, but I want to open a discuss between Latin educators on how to address student use of online translations and its affects on translation as homework. Please comment on the Open Debate post and on each others’ comments to discuss this issue.