Exploring the use of online machine translation for independent language learning

  • Ana Niño Modern Languages and Cultures Department, The University of Manchester, UK
Keywords: online machine translation, Google Translate, independent language learning, language comprehension, language written production


The free availability of online machine translation (OMT) on the Internet via computers, tablets and smartphones makes it convenient for use by language students of all levels. Google Translate has been widely listed as an independent language learning (ILL) resource and we cannot deny its role for ongoing education.

We are aware of the fact that this developing piece of technology was not designed with language learning in mind and, as a consequence, has limited current abilities depending on the language pair, language direction, genre, etc. However, as educators, we cannot help but wonder how the students use it independently and what pedagogical implications this may have in the language class.

This study sets to analyse how language learners assess the usefulness of machine translation output and what they think about the use of OMT (in combination with other online language resources) for oral and written comprehension and production (e.g. writing and translation). This will help determining whether its use by language learners can be counterproductive or whether, if used wisely, can assist ILL and help boosting language instant communication.


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The results presented in this paper were originally presented at the Google Translate and Modern Languages Education Conference organised by the Centre for Translation and Comparative Cultural Studies at the University of Nottingham on 29th June 2018. A video recording was made public in July 2019. The link is as follows: https://www.nottingham.ac.uk/conference/fac-arts/clas/google-translate-and-modern-languages-education/conference-videos/conference-videos.aspx
How to Cite
NiñoA. (2020). Exploring the use of online machine translation for independent language learning. Research in Learning Technology, 28. https://doi.org/10.25304/rlt.v28.2402
Original Research Articles