The research was evaluated by an experiment which needed participants to read one article and finish some related quizzes. To make a comparison, participants were divided into two groups with only one can use Google translate. The results were unexpected. It seems that Google translate does not has a significant positive effect to help students learn English vocabulary and to improve reading comprehension. Students who learn English, teachers who want to help their students make progress and researchers in this area could benefit from this study.
Introduction The rapid development of technology in recent decades benefits the education area. Besides traditional teaching methods, more approaches are employed in language learning to help learners make progress. Many studies have focused on impacts of different kinds of technology on English learning. Previous research from Kung and Chuo (2002) affirmed that college students acknowledge the Internet as a useful tool to learn English. Chun and Plass (1996) suggested that with multimedia program to assist high school students in reading articles, the rate of incidental vocabulary learning increased.
However, few studies have examined the effects of online translation service on English learning. Research studies both vocabulary learning and reading comprehension is also difficult to find. Therefore, further investigations are needed. This research is aimed at investigating the influences of Google translate on vocabulary learning and reading comprehension. Google translate is a kind of free online language translation service which can instantly translate text or web pages into numerous different languages. Vocabulary learning is an important and fundamental aspect of English study which stresses cognition and use of words.
Additionally, reading comprehension is an ability to understand articles which elated to recognition of content and grasp of main ideas. The lack of previous research on this topic leads to the research question: Do students who use Google translate to help them learn English have higher efficiency than students who do not? It was hypothesized that Google translate will improve students' understanding of unfamiliar words and the content of an article. Methodology Sample The sample participating in this experiment consisted of 1 1 students from Yl- are non-native English speakers.
Material Google translate, which is capable to offer translation of text immediately and can un perfectly on laptops, was used as assistance for the experiment group and defined as the independent variable. A relatively new article excerpted from Slate Magazine which is about business and trade was adopted as the test material. With an academic style and approximately 700 words, this article can be difficult to understand. A quiz related to the article consisting of 8 questions about vocabulary learning and 2 questions about reading comprehension was also used.
The first 8 questions ask participants to choose the right words to fill in 8 incomplete sentences. The last 2 questions are multiple choice questions. Procedure Several meetings were held to design the experiment and the quiz. After that, the whole experiment was piloted in the researcher team to check the validity of questions and to ensure there would be sufficient time for participants to finish the reading task and the quiz. Another purpose is to make every researcher be familiar with the process. The formal experiment was conducted on 19th April in the EAP classroom.
All members of the research team were required to bring laptops in order to run Google translate. First, participants were divided into two groups randomly. 6 tudents in the experiment group were allowed to use Google translate during the reading time. Other 5 students were treated as the control group. Then, a 3-minute- long brief guidance including rules of the experiment was given to participants. Next, paper copies of the article were given out and 1 5 minutes were arranged for participants to read.
The experiment group was allowed to use Google translate when they encounter unfamiliar words or sentences, whereas the control group should read through the paper without any assistance. For both groups, taking notes and making marks in the reading paper were forbidden. Afterwards, quiz papers were distributed to evaluate participants' learning outcomes and Google translate is banned to use. Participants were given 15 minutes to finish the quiz. Finally, all the papers were collected. The whole experiment was conducted in the EAP classroom and last for approximately 40 minutes.
After the experiment, the research team gathered to mark quiz papers and the results were analyzed by using a data- recording table. Result and analysis The aim of this experiment is to define whether Google translate can help students learn English more efficiently. Without the independent variable, which is Google ranslate, all other conditions were kept the same to both groups. Therefore, it seems fair to say the experiment was conducted in a Just way. The most important finding is one that out of the researchers' expectation. The average grade of control group is nearly 1. 2 times higher than the experiment group (Figure 1).
It reflects that the control group had a better performance during the test. Considering the result contraries to the hypothesis, deep analyses were given. The possible reasons are as follows. Firstly, because of the lack of a pre-test to divide subjects, there may be a hance to put students who are good at English in the control group. Secondly, participants who have the privilege to use Google translate may rely on it whenever understanding of the content and the efficient use of context. Thirdly, since participants in experiment group needed to switch between the papers and laptops, it is hard for them to concentrate on the article.
Fourthly, as Google translate can only give one simple definition of the word or phrase, this could be inaccurate and sometimes could mislead those students. After data were entered in an Excel spreadsheet, the accuracy of every question was alculated. As the Figure 2 below illustrates, the overall accuracy of the control group is higher than the experiment group except for question 5 and 8. No one in the control group answered correctly to the fifth question and one third of them gave wrong answers to the eighth question.
These two questions are aimed at testing students' understanding of the meaning of new words. Google translate gives the right explanations which are consistent with the meaning in the content. This may indicate that Google translate can help students gain the meaning of some words which have clear and simplex meaning. However, the last question, which is a multiple choice question about reading comprehension, none in the experiment group gave the right answer while almost half of the students in the control group chose the correct one.
The data suggests that students in the control group had a better understanding about the main ideas of the article. This may because there was no equipment to distract their attention and all they could do during the first part of the test was to read the whole content thoroughly. Another question that worth being discussed according to the Figure is the sixth question, all participants in he experiment, no matter which group they belonged to, failed to answer it. The question is: Even so, it is unclear how much the shift to inland growth really has. The correct word be chosen from the box is "momentum".
From the experiment group's perspective, it is proper to surmise that the Chinese translation given by Google translate is inapposite and not related to the content tightly. This made it tough for those who take Google translate as a helper. From the control group' viewpoints, it may perhaps be that the context is complex and the meaning is hard to guess. Another factor that needs to be concerned is the question itself because it is a compound sentence and difficult to understand. To brief summarize, Google vocabulary and improve the comprehension of reading.
Conclusion One of the most important findings is that the control group performed better with higher marks on average in the experiment about whether Google translate is helpful for students to learn new words and to understand better about the content when they read an article. Another interesting finding is that Google translate can be very useful when the target word has a definite meaning and at the same time, be very imited when relate to the text comprehension. In general, the findings are unexpected and contradict the hypothesis which claims that Google translate can have positive effects to English learners.
It is also contradictory to the findings of Peters (2007), which claims that the use of online dictionary can enhance vocabulary acquisition. To sum up, though Google translate is useful when readers want to find students when they read an article or encounter words with multi-meanings. The unanticipated findings may relate to some limitations of this experiment. First, the topic is limited. Since the research topic is to examine the effects of technology on English learning, it can contain many subareas. For example, reading, listening, speaking and writing.
The research group only focused on 2 English learning aspects: vocabulary and text learning. Even the vocabulary contains lots of inspection points, such as spelling, pronunciation and word meaning. Also, use Google translate to represent technology is one-sided. There are other kinds of technology like software, recorder and e-dictionary. Second, for the experiment, the sample size is too small and lack of diversity. All 11 participants are year 1 students with the same major from the same education background. In addition, the gender proportion is unbalanced.
Meanwhile, a pre-test about the English level of the participants is lacked. Moreover, the function of Google translate is inadequate. In brief, the limitations are in two aspects: topic and the design of the experiment and these may lead to the unpredicted findings. The findings of this report lead to some recommendations. Firstly, students who learn English at the beginning level can use Google translate to find the meaning of the words, phrases and sentences to help them understand the ontent. However, it is not suggested to rely on Google translate to find definitions of every words.
Secondly, teachers who want to help their students make progress in English learning could use Google translate as assistance more appropriately and efficiently in the aspect of simplex-meaning word acquisition. It is also advised that teachers should encourage students to think more by themselves actively and avoid using Google translate to find the meaning of every new word. Thirdly, researchers in this area can gain useful information about the effects of online translation service n English vocabulary learning and reading comprehension.