Academic and research departmentsSurrey International Institute at Dongbei University of Finance and Economics (SII-DUFE).
I have worked in English for Academic Purposes, both in Europe and Asia, since 2007. I have taught and managed a wide range of EAP classes, levels and modes. I am currently responsible for managing the Foundation Year at SII DUFE in Dalian, China
Areas of specialism
Online translation has been freely available since the 1990s. In recent years its quality has been significantly improving, leading to instant translation which can easily be used as a reading or writing tool by students whose first language is not that of the institution where they study. For instance, students might use it to facilitate the composition of their essays in the language of instruction. However, such student use of online translation tools raises a number of important questions about their acceptability in Higher Education. As these questions remain unaddressed in the current literature, this paper presents novel findings from interviews with academic staff at two UK universities and examines the emerging themes. These include academic integrity, the meaning of the university brand and the need for language development. It then suggests that Higher Education Institutions need to engage in an informed and robust discussion of these issues to provide a consistent position on the place of Machine Translation in Higher Education.
Machine translation, specifically Google Translate, is freely available, and is improving in its ability to provide grammatically accurate translations. This development has the potential to provoke a major transformation in the internationalization process at universities, since students may be, in the future, able to use technology to circumvent traditional language learning processes. While this is a potentially empowering move that may facilitate academic exchange and the diversification of the learner and researcher community, it is also a potentially problematic issue in two main respects. Firstly, the technology is at present unable to align to the sociolinguistic aspects of university-level writing and may be misunderstood as a remedy to lack of writer language proficiency. Secondly, it introduces a new dimension to the production of academic work that may clash with Higher Education policy and, thus, requires legislation, in particular in light of issues such as plagiarism and academic misconduct. This paper considers these issues against the background of English as a Global Lingua Franca, and argues two points. First of these is that Higher Education Institutions need to develop an understanding and code of practice for the use of this technology. Secondly, potential future research will be presented.
A recent development in digital technology, machine translation (MT), is improving in its ability to translate with grammatical and lexical accuracy, and is also becoming increasingly available for students of language for academic purposes. Given the acceptance of other digital technology for teaching and learning, it seems likely that machine translation will become a tool students will rely on to complete their assignments in a second language. This would have implications for the community of practice of academic language teaching. In this study students were asked to submit an essay in their first language and this was then translated into English through a web-based translation engine. The resulting English text was analysed for grammatical error. The analysis found that the translation engine was far from able to produce error-free text – however, judging in relation to international testing standards, the level of accuracy is approaching the minimum needed for university admission at many institutions. Thus, this paper sets out to argue, based on the assumption that MT will continue to improve, that this technology will have a profound influence on the teaching of Languages for Academic Purposes, and with imaginative use, will allow this influence to be positive for both the students and their instructors.