About the talk

Google Translate and other machine translation platforms can be a source of tension in language learning classrooms, with many instructors likening their use to cheating, laziness, and/or impediments to learning. This talk presents the findings of a research study that complicate these assumptions and provide implications for instructional practice.

We base this talk on a computer-tracking study that used screen recording and retrospective interviews to observe and understand how 74 world language learners (French, Spanish, Mandarin) actually used machine translation platforms while writing. While students across languages used machine translation tools extensively, their usage went far beyond “copy paste” to include complex analysis strategies. After presenting our findings, we suggest different approaches for language instructors and programs on how to address machine translation in the language classroom.

Sponsors: Language Institute, with the Second Language Acquisition PhD Program

Funding: Anonymous Fund, International Division

Contact: Jana Martin

The UW-Madison Language Institute is committed to inclusive and accessible programming. To request an accommodation for this event, please contact Language Institute associate director Jana Martin three business days in advance.


Translating Google Translate: How Students Actually Use Machine Translation and What That Means for World Language Instruction

Kimberly Vinall (Executive Director, Berkeley Language Center), University of California, Berkeley
Emily Hellmich (Associate Director, Berkeley Language Center), University of California, Berkeley


Start - 3:30 pm Central time
This is a talk for language educators and researchers
Applicable Language
All Languages
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University of Wisconsin-Madison Language Institute
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Published September 24, 2023 by Jana Martin • Updated September 24, 2023