The impact of machine translation software on students’ interaction and participation in class


  • Louise Frith University of York



machine translation software, English as a second language students, interaction, participation , developmental, dependence


Machine Translation Software (MTS) has been in use by students with English as a second language since 2000. In recent years its use has increased. There are many studies into its use in HE (Groves & Mundt, 2021; Jolley & Maimone, 2015; Clifford et al, 2013). This year, at the University of York, I am undertaking some research into PGT English as a Second Language (ESL) students’ use of machine translation software in the classroom. This will be of interest to all Learning Developers who teach ESL students. It is known that students use the software for reading and completing assignments, but there is less known about how students use the software within class to understand and engage with the class content. Although the software can be a helpful tool to enhance students’ understanding of the class content, it can also be a barrier to full participation in class-based discussion and interaction. The aim of the session is to enable the learning development community to share experiences of supporting students who use MTS to support their studies. This session will explore some of these issues- in relation to academic skills sessions and invite participants to share their ideas on how learning developers respond to this challenge.

Author Biography

Louise Frith, University of York

Louise Frith is a Departmental Academic and Communication Skills Tutor, School of Politics, University of York. She is the author of three books: Mindfulness and Wellbeing for Student Learning 2023; Professional Writing Skills for Social Workers, 2021; and The Students’ Guide to Peer Mentoring, 2017. She is currently working on a project to find out more about students’ use of translation technology in the classroom.


Clifford, J., Merschel, L. & Munné, J. (2013), “Surveying the landscape: What is the role of machine translation in language learning?”, The Acquisition of Second Languages and Innovative Pedagogies, vol. 10, no. 10, pp. 108-121.

Groves, M. Mundt, K (2021) A ghostwriter in the machine? Attitudes of academic staff towards machine translation use in Internationalised Higher Education, Journal of English for Academic Purposes, Volume 50,

Jolley, J. R., & Maimone, L. (2015). Free online machine translation: Use and perceptions by Spanish students and instructors. Learn languages, explore cultures, transform lives, 181-200. Lincoln: University of Nebraska.




How to Cite

Frith, L. (2023) “The impact of machine translation software on students’ interaction and participation in class”, Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education, (29). doi: 10.47408/jldhe.vi29.1076.

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