Making the Most of Search Engines for Japanese to English Translation: Benefits and Challenges
Keywords: translation into L2, search engine, authentic materials, Japanese EFL students, autonomous learning
Tokyo Denki University, Japan
Yasunari Fujii has taught at universities in both Australia and Japan, including the University of Canberra and Tokyo Denki University. He holds an MA in linguistics from Sophia University and a PhD in linguistics from the Australian National University. His major research areas include conversation analysis, sociolinguistics, language teaching and translation theory.
The number of Japanese universities offering translation and interpretation courses as part of their language programs has been steadily increasing. Little research has been conducted, however, to explore the potential benefits of search engines for the purpose of correcting and revising text translated from L1 into L2. Close to 200 university students in science and engineering participated in this study and validated the usability of the Google search engine for translation purposes. Specifically, this study compares and evaluates the effectiveness of the traditional dictionary-based approach to translation versus the Google-based method. Participants were required to revise a scientific abstract. An analysis of the two sets of data reveals noticeable improvements in the naturalness and accuracy of the participants translations of the abstract. The use of the search engine proved not only valuable in developing the participants autonomous learning capacity, but also helped overcome difficulties with articles and syntactic number, problems most commonly encountered by Japanese students of English. A discussion of questionnaire responses is included at the end of this article to measure the participants attitudes toward search engines after implementing this study. The results of the questionnaire show positive benefits as well as potential challenges associated with the Google-assisted exercises in translation.