Recursive editing with Google Translate: the impact on writing and error correction

Peichin Chang*, Pin Ju Chen, Li Ling Lai

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Machine Translation (MT) tools have advanced to a level of reliability such that it is now opportune to consider their place in language teaching and learning. Given their potential, the current study sought to engage EFL university sophomores in recursive editing afforded by Google Translate (GT) for one semester, and investigated (1) whether the students were able to correct errors assisted by GT, (2) whether GT facilitated better writing, (3) which aspects of writing, fluency, complexity or accuracy GT better assisted the learners with, and (4) the student’s attitudes toward GT. A quasi-experimental approach was adopted where the experimental group, comprising 34 students, received training in recursive editing while the control group, comprising 33 students, did not. Both groups completed an error-correction test and an essay pre- and post-intervention. The experimental group completed an additional Affective Filter and Task Difficulty questionnaire post-intervention. The results showed that the experimental group significantly outperformed the control group on the error correction test; however, no significant difference in the two groups’ writing scores was found. Further, the evaluation of writing fluency, accuracy, and complexity yielded a mixed picture. The control group demonstrated significantly better fluency as shown in sentence, clause, and T-unit counts, but not in total word count. The experimental group, conversely, showed significantly higher syntactic complexity in mean length of clause, and significantly better accuracy in writing post-intervention. Finally, the students were generally positive about using GT to learn in terms of anxiety, motivational belief, and task complexity.

Original languageEnglish
JournalComputer Assisted Language Learning
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2022


  • Google Translate
  • Machine translation
  • error correction
  • recursive editing
  • writing performance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Computer Science Applications


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