Volume 8, Issue 1
  • ISSN 2352-1805
  • E-ISSN: 2352-1813
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Machine Translation (MT), the process by which a computer engine such as Google Translate or Bing automatically translates a text from one language into another without any human involvement, is increasingly used in professional, institutional and everyday contexts for a wide range of purposes. While a growing number of studies has looked at professional translators and translation students, there is currently a lack of research on non-translator users and uses in multilingual contexts.

This paper presents a survey examining how, when and why students at Leiden University’s Faculty of Humanities use MT. A questionnaire was used to determine which MT engines students use and for what purposes, and gauge their awareness of issues concerning privacy, academic integrity and plagiarism. The findings reveal a widespread adoption of Google Translate and indicate that students use MT predominantly to look up single words, as an alternative to a dictionary. Many seemed sceptical about the value of MT for educational purposes, and many assumed that the use of MT is not permitted by lecturers for graded assignments, especially in courses focusing on language skills.

The results demonstrate a clear need for more MT literacy. Students may not need practical training in to use MT, but there is much room for improvement in terms of and they use it.


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