The impact of Google Translate on L2 writing quality measures: Evidence from Chilean EFL high school learners

Marco Cancino, Jaime Panes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Over the last 30 years, English as a Foreign Language (EFL) classrooms have been consistently nurtured by technology. An important breakthrough in this respect has been Google Translate (GT), one of the most widely used online translators (OTs). Research suggests that when teachers are aware of the limitations of OTs and provide adequate guidance to use them, they can become effective pedagogical devices. However, most of the studies conducted in EFL settings focus on adult learners’ perceptions toward OTs or rely on holistic rubrics to assess writing quality. Thus, the present study sought to apply a linguistic approach to the analysis of writing output produced by high school learners using GT. Sixty-one high-school EFL learners were randomly assigned to one of three groups: (GT without instruction, GT with instruction, and a group with no access to GT). Writing quality was assessed in terms of T-unit length, syntactic complexity, and accuracy in a narrative task. Results suggest that syntactic complexity and accuracy scores were higher in the groups that had access to GT. The possibilities for GT as an effective learning tool are discussed, while emphasizing the need for learners to receive adequate instruction on how to utilize it.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102464
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021


  • EFL learning
  • Google translate
  • Linguistic complexity
  • Online translators
  • Writing quality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language


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