‘I Can’t Live Without Google Translate’: A Close Look at the Use of Google Translate App by Second Language Learners in Saudi Arabia

Author: Nada Bin Dahmash

Keywords: affordances, English learning, Google Translate App (GTA), Saudi Second Language learners

DOI: 0.24093/awej/vol11no3.14

Google Translate App (GTA) use is ubiquitous among second language learners in Saudi Arabia for translating between Arabic and English and vice versa. Learners perform various translation tasks drawing on different features of GTA. However, what specific features they draw on when using Google Translate, and how the app influences their English learning process is unknown. This study aims to answer the following research question: what are the affordances of GTA as perceived by second language learners in Saudi Arabia? The research participants were twelve second language learners at a university in Saudi Arabia. Focus group interviews and individual interviews were conducted to gather the data over six-weeks. Thematic analysis indicates that GTA provides five different modes of writing in English, offering options to use the app in-class and in everyday life, and serving as a language learning resource. The findings also indicate that the personal histories of learners with GTA related to their introduction to and frequency of using the app in everyday life, and the benefits they observed when doing so. The study recommends language instructors promote the use of the app as a mini dictionary, and encourage language learners to use it as a resource to ensure accurate spelling and pronunciation.