Arab World English Journal (AWEJ) Volume 11. Number3 September 2020 Pp. 226 -240
‘I Can’t Live Without Google Translate’: A Close Look at the Use of Google Translate App
by Second Language Learners in Saudi Arabia
Nada Bin Dahmash
College of Applied Studies and Community Service
King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Google Translate App (GTA) use is ubiquitous among second language learners in Saudi Arabia for translating between Arabic and English and vice versa. Learners perform various translation tasks drawing on different features of GTA. However, what specific features they draw on when using Google Translate, and how the app influences their English learning process is unknown. This study aims to answer the following research question: what are the affordances of GTA as perceived by second language learners in Saudi Arabia? The research participants were twelve second language learners at a university in Saudi Arabia. Focus group interviews and individual interviews were conducted to gather the data over six-weeks. Thematic analysis indicates that GTA provides five different modes of writing in English, offering options to use the app in-class and in everyday life, and serving as a language learning resource. The findings also indicate that the personal histories of learners with GTA related to their introduction to and frequency of using the app in everyday life, and the benefits they observed when doing so. The study recommends language instructors promote the use of the app as a mini dictionary, and encourage language learners to use it as a resource to ensure accurate spelling and pronunciation.
Keywords: affordances, English learning, Google Translate App (GTA), Saudi Second Language learners
Cite as: Bin Dahmash, N. (2020). ‘I Can’t Live Without Google Translate’: A Close Look at the Use of Google Translate App by Second Language Learners in Saudi Arabia. Arab World English Journal, 11 (3) 226 -240.
Alhaisoni, E., & Alhaysony, M. (2017). An Investigation of Saudi EFL University Students’ Attitudes towards the Use of Google Translate. International Journal of English Language Education, 5(1), 72-82. https://doi.org/10.5296/ijele.v5i1.10696
Alsalem, R. (2019). The Effects of the Use of Google Translate on Translation Students’ Learning Outcomes. Arab World English Journal For Translation and Literary Studies, 3(4), 46-60. https://doi.org/10.24093/awejtls/vol3no4.5
Amin, E. A.-R. (2020). A Review of Research into Google Apps in the Process of English Language Learning and Teaching. Arab World English Journal, 11(1), 399-418. https://doi.org/10.24093/awej/vol11no1.27
Barton, D., & Hamilton, M. (2012). Local Literacies: Reading and Writing in One Community (rev. ed.). London: Routledge.
Barton, D., & Lee, C. (2013). Language Online: Investigating Digital Texts and Practices. London and New York: Routledge.
Barton, D., & Potts, D. (2013). Language Learning Online as a Social Practice. TESOL Quarterly, 47(4), 815-825. https://doi.org/10.1002/tesq.130
Bin Dahmash, N. (2019). Approaches to Crafting English as a Second Language on Social Media: An Ethnographic Case Study from Saudi Arabia. Arab World English Journal, 10(2), 136-150. https://doi.org/10.24093/awej/vol10no2.12
Cohen, L., Manion, L., & Morrison, K. (2018). Research Methods in Education (8th ed.). London: Routledge.
Dewaele, J.-M. (2018). Why the Dichotomy ‘L1 Versus LX User’ is Better than ‘Native Versus Non-native Speaker’. Applied Linguistics, 39(2), 236–240. https://doi.org/10.1093/applin/amw055
Ducar, C., & Schocket, D. H. (2018). Machine Translation and the L2 Classroom: Pedagogical Solutions for Making Peace with Google Translate. Foreign Language Annals, 51(4), 779-795. https://doi.org/10.1111/flan.12366
Ghasemi, H., & Hashemian, M. (2016). A Comparative Study of “Google Translate” Translations: An Error Analysis of English-to-Persian and Persian-to-English Translations. English Language Teaching, 9(3), 13-17. https://doi.org/10.5539/elt.v9n3p13
Groves, M., & Mundt, K. (2015). Friend or Foe? Google Translate in Language for Academic Purposes. English for Specific Purposes, 37, 112-121. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.esp.2014.09.001
Jones, R. (2017). Digital Literacies. In E. Hinkel (Ed.), Handbook of Research in Second Language Teaching and Learning. (Vol. III, pp. 286-298). London: Routledge.
Jones, R., & Hafner, C. (2012). Understanding Digital Literacies: A Practical Introduction. London: Routledge.
Kvale, S. (1996). InterViews : An Introduction to Qualitative Research Interviewing. Thousand Oaks, Calif: Sage Publications.
Kvale, S. (2007). Doing Interviews. London: Sage Publications.
Lankshear, C., & Knobel, M. (2008). Introduction: Digital Literacies- Concepts, Policies and Practices. In C. Lankshear, & M. Knobel (Eds.), Digital Literacies: Concepts, Policies and Practices (pp. 115-136). New York: Peter Lang.
Morgan, D. L. (2008). Snowball Sampling. In L. M. Given (Ed.), The SAGE Encyclopedia of Qualitative Research Methods (pp. 816). Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications. https://doi.org/10.4135/9781412963909
Papen, U. (2005). Adult Literacy as Social Practice: More than Skills. London: Routledge.
Patil, S., & Davies, P. (2014). Use of Google Translate in Medical Communication: Evaluation of Accuracy. BMJ : British Medical Journal, 349, 1-3. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.g7392
Patton, M. Q. (2001). Qualitative Research & Evaluation Methods (3rd ed.). London: Sage Publications.
Saldaña, J. (2016). The Coding Manual for Qualitative Researchers (3rd ed.). London: Sage Publications, Inc.
Street, B. V. (1993). Introduction: the New Literacy Studies. In B. V. Street (Ed.), Cross-Cultural Approaches to Literacy (pp. 1-21). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Tsai, S.-C. (2019). Using Google Translate in EFL Drafts: a Preliminary Investigation. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 32(5-6), 510-526. https://doi.org/10.1080/09588221.2018.1527361
Turovsky, B. (2016). Ten Years of Google Translate. Google Translate. Retrieved from https://www.blog.google/products/translate/ten-years-of-google-translate/
Vidhayasai, T., Keyuravong, S., & Bunsom, T. (2015). Investigating the Use of Google Translate in “Terms and Conditions” in an Airline’s Official Website: Errors and Implications. PASAA: Journal of Language Teaching and Learning in Thailand, 49, 137-169. https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1077919.pdf