Using machine translation as a teaching tool
Machine translation, sometimes referred to by the abbreviation MT (not to be confused with computer-aided translation, machine-aided human translation (MAHT) or interactive translation) is a sub-field of computational linguistics that investigates the use of software to translate text or speech from one language to another.
On a basic level, MT performs simple substitution of words in one language for words in another, but that alone usually cannot produce a good translation of a text because recognition of whole phrases and their closest counterparts in the target language is needed. Solving this problem with corpus and statistical techniques is a rapidly growing field that is leading to better translations, handling differences in linguistic typology, translation of idioms, and the isolation of anomalies.
Although there have been concerns about machine translation's accuracy, Dr. Ana Nino of the University of Manchester has researched some of the advantages in utilizing machine translation in the classroom. One such pedagogical method is called using "MT as a Bad Model." MT as a Bad Model forces the language learner to identify inconsistencies or incorrect aspects of a translation; in turn, the individual will (hopefully) possess a better grasp of the language. Dr. Nino cites that this teaching tool was implemented in the late 1980s. At the end of various semesters, Dr. Nino was able to obtain survey results from students who had used MT as a Bad Model (as well as other models.) Overwhelmingly, students felt that they had observed improved comprehension, lexical retrieval, and increased confidence in their target language.