Workshop on Teaching Machine Translation

Mikel L. Forcada, Juan Antonio Pérez-Ortiz (Editors)

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September 18-22
Santiago de Compostela, Spain
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Exploiting the WWW for MT teaching
Lorna Balkan

This paper gives an overview of what resources, including software tools, reference material and course material, are currently available on the web for teaching machine translation, and discusses where to find these resources. It makes some suggestions as to how these resources and access to them can be enhanced in the future.

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Transferable skills in an MT course
Judith Belam

The paper describes the process of designing a new MT course for final-year undergraduates. It explains the skills to be acquired as part of the module. The course will include a practical and a theoretical component, and in addition to subject-specific knowledge the course should enable students to gain competence in analysis of language and appreciation of the nature of communication. It is hoped that some of these skills will be transferable from the specific context of MT to wider areas of application. Discrete profiling and evaluation is not envisaged. The paper also defines areas where an MT course can provide opportunities not necessarily offered on conventional translation courses.

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An interactive hypertextual environment for MT training
Etienne Blanc

An interactive hypertextual environment for MT training is described. It combines the ARIANE MT system with an hypertextual control interface implemented on the learner’s personal computer, and communicating with the ARIANE server through e-mail.

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Teaching machine translation in non computer science subjects: report of an educational experience within the University of Orleans
Viviane Clavier | Céline Poudat

Machine Translation is increasingly being taught within non scientific subject areas at French universities, which involves instructors solving educational and scientific problems caused by the lack of training of these students in computer science. Most of these students are being taught MT within the framework of language and linguistic courses. As MT instructors in both Departments of Foreign Language and Linguistics at Orléans, we will report on our experience of teaching. Besides setting up the technological environment, we also had to consider the courses from two different angles. First of all, we can state that MT tools enable future users to enhance their skills in Machine-Assisted Translation, and secondly they introduce potential future system designers to computational linguistics issues.

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Teaching machine translation to trainee translators: a survey of their knowledge and opinions
Federico Gaspari

This paper reports upon a survey carried out among thirty-eight trainee translators who took courses on machine translation. The survey was conducted asking the sample of students to fill out a questionnaire both at the beginning and at the end of the MT course. The questions aimed at assessing the degree of knowledge about MT of the respondents and the opinions and impressions that they accordingly had on it. The results of the questionnaire were elaborated so as to investigate the relationship between the increase in the knowledge about MT after the conclusion of the course, and the corresponding change in the students’ attitude towards the discipline, which became much less biased and in general fairly positive, thanks to a very successful and rewarding learning process. The paper suggests that the more the trainee translators became familiar with MT, realising its reasonable potential and current limitations, the less afraid they were of it. These findings encourage the increasing integration and introduction of technology into translation curricula, since the impact of computer technology on language translation directly affects professional human translators. As a result, exposing trainee translators to machine translation seems to raise the profile of their training.

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Teaching machine translation & translation technology: a contrastive study
Dorothy Kenny | Andy Way

The Machine Translation course at Dublin City University is taught to undergraduate students in Applied Computational Linguistics, while Computer-Assisted Translation is taught on two translator-training programmes, one undergraduate and one postgraduate. Given the differing backgrounds of these sets of students, the course material, methods of teaching and assessment all differ. We report here on our experiences of teaching these courses over a number of years, which we hope will be of interest to lecturers of similar existing courses, as well as providing a reference point for others who may be considering the introduction of such material.

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Discovering machine translation strategies beyond word-for-word translation: a laboratory assignment
Juan Antonio Pérez-Ortiz | Mikel L. Forcada

It is a common mispreconception to say that machine translation programs translate word-for-word, but real systems follow strategies which are much more complex. This paper proposes a laboratory assignment to study the way in which some commercial machine translation programs translate whole sentences and how the translation differs from a word-for-word translation. Students are expected to infer some of these extra strategies by observing the outcome of real systems when translating a set of sentences designed on purpose. The assignment also makes students aware of the difficulty of constructing such programs while bringing some technological light into the apparent “magic” of machine translation.

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Three perspectives on MT in the classroom
Harold Somers

This paper considers the role of translation software, especially Machine Translation (MT), in curricula for students of computational linguistics, for trainee translators and for language learners. These three sets of students have differing needs and interests, although there is some overlap between them. A brief historical view of MT in the classroom is given, including comments on the author’s 25 years of experience in the field. This is followed by discussion and examples of strategies for teaching about MT and related aspects of Language Engineering and Information Technology for the three types of student.

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Making MT commonplace in translation training curricula • too many misconceptions, so much potential!
Elia Yuste-Rodrigo

This paper tackles the issue of how to teach Machine Translation (MT) to future translators enrolled in a university translation-training course. Teaching MT to trainee translators usually entails two main difficulties: first, a misunderstanding of what MT is really useful for, which normally leads to the misconception that MT output’s quality always equals zero; second, a widespread fear that machines are to replace human translators, consequently leaving them out of work. In order to fight these generalised prejudices on MT among (future) translators, translation instruction should be primarily practical and realistic, as well as learner-centred. It thus ought to highlight the fact that: 1) MT systems and applications are essential components of today’s global multilingual documentation production; 2) the way in which MT is employed in large multilingual organisations and international companies opens up new work avenues for translators. This will be illustrated by two activities, one using commercial MT systems for quick translations, whose process outcome is improved through the trainees’ interaction with the system; the other focusing on MT output comprehensibility by speakers of target language only. MT is thus a mainstream component of a translation-training framework delineated in Yuste (2000) that, by placing the trainee in workplace-like situations, also echoes Kiraly (1999).