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Translate YouTube Captions and Audio

by Miguel Guhlin
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Do you need to peruse foreign language videos on YouTube for class? Perhaps you want to demonstrate how easy technology has made audio and closed captioning for videos. YouTube offers a host of wonderful features such as the built-in editor that makes it easy to trim video. What’s more, you can add attribution and copyright-free audio to enchant the ears. One feature I missed? Closed captioning of audio in videos I had put into YouTube. There’s nothing quite so delightful as to hear your words spoken in a foreign tongue and see your closed captions in another language. In this blog entry, we explore several Chrome extensions that make translating YouTube videos easy.

A Quick Review of Tools

Microsoft’s Immersive Reader has taken digital tools to the next level. With it, you can divide words into syllables, have web pages read aloud. You can even translate the pages into other languages then have them read to you. Find Immersive Reader in popular tools, such as the following:

  1. Buncee
  2. Flipgrid
  3. Nearpod
  4. ThingLink
  5. Wakelet

This integration astounds any educator who had to translate the hard way, one word or phrase at a time.

Source: Explore MS Accessibility for Remote Learning

G Suite EDU is no slouch either when it comes to translating because you can translate documents using Google Docs. Here’s a screenshot showing a handful of languages Google Docs can translate:


You can get to the feature easily enough. Simply go to Tools when in Google Docs, and then click on Translate document. It will generate a separate document with the translated copy.


But what about videos on YouTube? How do you translate the audio found there? Let’s take a look at three Chrome extensions sure to dazzle the eye and ear.

Extension #1: Auto Translate Captions for YouTube

YouTube, as mentioned before, can be quite powerful, but sometimes, those powerful features are unavailable. The Auto Translate Captions for YouTube Chrome extension turns on translation.

You can see it in action via this screenshot. My video is in English, but the subtitles appear in Spanish:


According to their website, it will do the following:

This extension will activate the auto-translate feature of YouTube. It does this even if the feature is not in the menu. The extension activates the feature using a chosen language. This occurs each time you activate the closed captions.

Other solutions exist that allow you to take advantage of subtitle dubbing as well. Here’s a short list of Chrome extensions that I found worked well.

Extension #2: Subtitles Player

Subtitles player Chrome extension allows for reading and translating subtitles. It offers these features:

  • Instant translation from any foreign language
  • Score subtitles when watching foreign video files
  • Choose your favorite voice for voice acting
  • View lectures with translation
  • Video picture synchronization and voice track tempo

Although this extension comes close to real time audio translation, it falls short. Listening to it in Spanish, for example, is tough. It is like listening to an English speaker read Spanish with an English pronunciation.

Extension #3: Caption Speaker

Wow, this version of a subtitle translator and player is fantastic. Caption Speaker astonished me with its high quality. I do recommend this particular one above all others for use with foreign languages.


As you can see from the screenshot, the options for the Chrome extension are simple. I would not bother with testing the speech sample text. It is nowhere near the quality you will experience when listening to a video with this feature turned on.

Here’s a quick video of Caption Speaker in action with two videos. In the first example, Mariah Carey’s Hero (one of my favorite songs for ed tech campus tech specialists), you’ll note that the captions are in another language. That language reflects the video uploader’s language preference. Mariah’s words do get translated into Spanish, the language I set in Caption Speaker. In the second example in the video, Food of the Gods, I have to refresh the page for Caption Speaker to kick in. Watch me go through this below:

Auto translating a YouTube video is something I have long wished for. Anyone who speaks more than one language, or would like to, will find one of these extensions useful.

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