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LTA Lunch Lecture: No more Rage against the Machine: Understanding the Value of Machine Translation in Higher Education

Friday 22 October 2021
Academy Building
Rapenburg 73
2311 GJ Leiden
Faculty Club, Grachtenkamer

In its relatively short history, machine translation – the process by which a computer automatically translates a text from one language into another without human interference – has suffered from a bad reputation. People tend to hate, fear or ridicule translation technology, or they use it without thinking and trust the output blindly. And even though machine translation websites and apps like Google Translate and Bing have become part and parcel of our everyday lives – “Ik heb het even door Google Translate gehaald hoor”- these websites and apps are normally excluded from the classroom. Yet a growing body of research shows that it can indeed be a valuable didactic tool in knowledge assimilation and dissemination, in promoting multilingualism and cultural awareness, and in fostering language learning.

In my Comenius Senior Fellow project “The Value of Machine Translation in the Multilingual Academic Community” I am currently developing a learning trajectory for machine translation as a transferable digital skill for students, including an online toolkit offering resources – web clips, lesson plans and activities - for students and staff. These resources will help students acquire the knowledge and skills they need to become critical, responsible and effective users of machine translation for a wider range of educational purposes.

In this talk I would like to present you with the rationale behind the project, and demonstrate the materials we have been working on. In addition, I hope to get some of you excited enough about the project to join our team and try out some of our materials and lesson plans during the current implementation and evaluation phase (August 2021 – October 2022). In the end, I hope to show that machine translation can be used to create a more inclusive and diverse academic multilingual community, but we need to train students to become critical and responsible users of the technology.

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The Lunch Lectures are initiated by the Leiden Teachers' Academy (LTA) and aim for teaching staff who want to improve their teaching. Lunch is available. Registration (till October 19th) is needed for catering purposes.

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