I am a 5th grade teacher at a private school. I have a student whose primary language is Chinese. He has come a long way in learning English, but he still struggles with reading and comprehending the language. I am looking for an easy and cost effective way to translate his text books (mostly history and science) into Chinese. Is there a software out there where I can scan the book and have it translated? The publishing company does not offer the book in any other language oth er than English. Thanks for your assistance

  • Every child can learn English, as all the children in English speaking countries prove. Learning a language is facilitated by immersion in that language. Translating the books into Chinese contradicts your student's attempts at learning English. Instead you should intensify his immersion in the English language. Also, this is offtopic, in my opinion.
    – user5645
    Sep 18, 2014 at 4:40
  • 1
    Perhaps you should ask on the Software Recommendations stackexchange.
    – user16583
    Sep 18, 2014 at 15:11
  • To the person who voted to close because this is about translating, not writing: Translation is on-topic here, as are requests for writing tools. Sep 20, 2014 at 20:27
  • "The publishing company does not offer the book in any other language oth er than English." Well maybe not officially but there are a myriad of pirated, bootleged and illegally translated books in chinese. Ask your student or his parents to search for them in chinese. It is likely that even if a specific book is not available a similar one could be found on the same topic. Nov 7, 2014 at 2:35

4 Answers 4


You're better off with a translation service, or a bilingual person, than a sort of "DIY" translation. (Unless you know Chinese well enough yourself?) Meaning can get lost in translation, especially when English is involved. An easy example? Just look at the word "lead" and its possible definitions. And your student may have an easier time understanding math & science in English. When I was an exchange student, even though I didn't know all the words, I still did better in my chemistry & calculus classes than language & history, even though those first two were not usually my best subject. And, yes, foreign students usually attend English language schools to immerse themselves, and it's best to help them in English, etc. But sometimes the answers are too hard to understand, and then getting some explanations in their native language benefits them better.


A quick search provided the following link (of which there are many), which may be of help to you.

Scroll down to the middle of the following link to "online services" where they offer individuals and businesses of all sizes on-demand translation services of Web pages, written texts, or Microsoft Office files:



There is a great deal of software which will allow you to scan the text. The usefulness of the scan depends on how complex the layout is, the quality of the scan itself and the complexity of the text. Obviously you need a scanner if you don't have an electronic version of the text (pdfs can sometimes be used).

Then you need to translate the text to the language you want. Many programs and websites offer this facility. Microsoft Word, for example, has a translate command. However, you need to check that the translation service you are using works reasonably well. Let me illustrate.

I translated a worksheet I had written into Arabic using the Word translate feature. I then translated it back (slightly complicated) and found it had changed it into something quite different (and useless). I then copied and pasted the text into Google translate, copied it, changed the languages, pasted it and got back something quite similar to what I had originally pasted. It was not perfect, but it was definitely useable.


Best free online translate service: https://translate.google.com/ It works quite well from English to Chinese.

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