Machine Translation An Enduring Chasm between Language Students and Teachers

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The COVID-19 pandemic has elevated focus on educational technologies (Elaish, et al., 2021). One area of sustained controversy in this domain centers around machine translation (MT), where language teachers and students have historically disagreed (Lee, 2020). While research has demonstrated the benefits of MT (e.g. Benda, 2013; Chon et al. 2021; Correa, 2014; Dziemianko, 2017; Enkin & Mejías-Bikandi, 2016; Garcia & Pena, 2011; Lee, 2020; Lee & Briggs, 2021) and studies have consistently reported frequent student usage of MT (e.g. Alhaisoni & Alhaysony, 2017) Clifford, Merschel, & Munné, 2013; Jin & Diefell, 2013; Tsai, 2019; Yang & Wang, 2019), teacher views have traditionally been negative (e.g. Case; 2015; Clifford, Merschel, & Munné, 2013; Niño, 2009; Stapleton & Leung Ka Kin, 2019). Given that recent research on MT has targeted ESOL (e.g. Lee, 2020; Murphy Odo, 2019; Tsai, 2019), that MT itself has evolved considerably since 2016 (Yang & Wang, 2019), and that teacher beliefs can be influenced by professional development and context (Borg, 2015), this study examined (1) contemporary attitudes toward and practices around MT among students (n=75) and teachers (n=25) of diverse languages, and (2) changes in instructor views after high impact pedagogical events: (a) a professional development seminar specifically on MT and (b) the “crisis‐prompted [shift to] remote language teaching” (Gacs et al, 2020) as a result of the global COVID-19 pandemic. Results from four surveys indicate a wide, enduring chasm between students, who increasingly use and feel positively towards MT but are varied in their understanding of implications of its use for academic integrity, and teachers, most of whom make no instructional use of MT, feel negatively about it, have clearer reviews on its relationship to academic integrity, and maintain their views after specific professional development and broad and far-reaching contextual events related to technology. Implications for practice, especially in the context of a surge in academic integrity violations related to MT during the COVID-19 pandemic (Çelik & Lancaster, 2021), will be discussed. [326].

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalCentre for Applied Linguistics Research Journal
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • COVID-19
  • Google Translate
  • academic integrity
  • diverse L2
  • higher education
  • machine translation
  • professional development
  • student beliefs
  • teacher beliefs
  • teaching practice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language


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