Investigating L2 writers' uses of machine translation and other online tools

Kimberly Vinall, Wen Wen, Emily A. Hellmich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


New technologies have had a substantial impact on L2 learners' writing processes. Given the continuous nature of technological evolution, more work is needed to document L2 writers' learner-initiated technology use, particularly their use of machine translation (MT) tools. This need is further solidified by recent calls for new pedagogical approaches to better prepare learners to use MT critically. The current study uses screen recordings, retrospective recall, and interviews to document what online tools L2 writers' use, how they use them, and what factors influence this use. Findings reveal that participants overwhelmingly rely on MT tools while writing. Moreover, they engage in complex actions with MT tools, which are influenced by language knowledge, beliefs about online tools, their own perceived roles in the writing process, and classroom policies. The paper ends with a consideration of the struggles that emerge to consider their pedagogical implications for supporting critical online tool use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalForeign Language Annals
StateAccepted/In press - 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • L2 writing
  • computer tracking
  • machine translation
  • online tools

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Linguistics and Language


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