Volume 5, Issue 3 December 2022, pp. 118–134 Download PDF

Special Issue: Language Use, Technology and Professionalisation in Higher Education

Dealing with the “elephant in the classroom”: Developing language students’ machine translation literacy

Rudy Loock1, Sophie Lechauguette2, & Benjamin Holt3

1 Université de Lille and Savoirs, Textes, Langage CNRS Research Unit, FRANCE rudy.loock@univ-lille.fr
2 Université de Lille and ULR 40 74 – CECILLE, FRANCE sophie.lechauguette@univ-lille.fr
3 Université de Lille and Savoirs, Textes, Langage CNRS Research Unit, FRANCE benjamin.holt@univ-lille.fr

DOI: https://doi.org/10.29140/ajal.v5n3.53si2


Abstract

In this article, we discuss the need for a new digital literacy among language students, namely a literacy in relation to the use of machine translation (MT): MT literacy, following Bowker and Buitrago Ciro (2019). This article does not focus on translation students who, due to the demands of the translation market, have already received a lot of attention from researchers. Rather, we focus on undergraduate language students, and argue that because of their massive use of free online translators—either to translate or to read and write in the language they are learning—instructors need to include a discus-sion on such tools. We argue that this discussion should include technical and ethical considerations, with a focus on how to ensure that students are able to use MT critically, identifying and correcting errors, for future professional use. Finally, we discuss the thorny issue of evaluation for this type of digital literacy. The discussion is based on several experiments conducted with undergraduate students enrolled in their final year of a three-year program in applied languages. We also believe that the teach-ing of such skills should not be restricted to language students, since students of all disciplines use online translators, and may continue to do so throughout their professional lives.



Copyright

© Rudy Loock, Sophie Lechauguette, Benjamin Holt

CC  4.0
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.


Suggested citation

Loock, R., Lechauguette, S., & Holt, B. (2022). Dealing with the “elephant in the classroom”: Developing language students’ machine translation literacy. Australian Journal of Applied Linguistics, 5(3), 118–134. https://doi.org/10.29140/ajal.v5n3.53si2


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