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Teachers’ perceptions of machine translation as a pedagogical tool
The role of Machine Translation (MT) within the L2 classroom has proven controversial. While many students value MT to support various learning objectives, teachers fear its potential to promote passive learning, and undermine academic integrity. Nonetheless, improved reliability and accessibility of MT, combined with student attitudes, makes it increasingly hard to “Google-proof” the classroom. Alternatively, MT might be incorporated into the classroom, while highlighting to students its limitations. A key factor in this dynamic is the attitude of classroom teachers. The current study details the development of a pilot translation app, Transpose, which then acted as discussion prompt to explore teachers’ attitudes towards MT in focus groups. Participants were four UK language teachers working with various age groups and in various contexts. The Transpose app exploited possible advantages of MT by visually comparing the syntactic structure of source and target languages. A thematic analysis found that, overall, teachers viewed translation as an important pedagogical tool. Regarding MT, views were mixed. They enthusiastically suggested novel uses, such as supporting children with English as an Additional Language, yet also felt that such technology was best employed to support independent study in advanced learners. Technological and institutional factors still prevent the seamless integration of IT-related methods within classroom contexts. Overall, while teachers expressed positive attitudes towards translation, and a cautious acceptance of the place the Transpose app could take within the classroom, there remain attitudinal barriers to widespread adoption.
Suggested citationSaziye Taşdemir, Elaine Lopez, Müge Satar, Nick G. Riches. (2023). Teachers’ perceptions of machine translation as a pedagogical tool. The JALT CALL Journal, 19(1), 92–112. https://doi.org/10.29140/jaltcall.v19n1.24