Machine Translation Literacy

These days, digital tools are often used to produce and process texts. This brings with it opportunities and risks. BFH is developing training in machine translation literacy as part of the Digital Literacy in University Contexts project.


  • Lead school School of Agricultural, Forest and Food Sciences
  • Additional schools RSR
  • Institute Knowledge Systems and Knowledge Sharing
  • Research unit Knowledge Systems and Knowledge Sharing
  • Funding organisation BFH
  • Duration (planned) 01.01.2021 - 31.12.2024
  • Project management Elizabeth Steele
  • Head of project Elizabeth Steele
  • Project staff Mara Haller
  • Partner ZHAW
    Pädagogische Hochschule Zürich
    Université de Neuchâtel
  • Keywords machine translation, machine translation literacy, digital skills, PgB


Machine translation, such as DeepL or GoogleTranslate, has made considerable progress in recent years and is increasingly used for writing and understanding texts in other languages. Such tools are free and deliver high-quality translations – at first glance, at least. To use them effectively, however, requires user training and appropriate teaching scenarios for second-language learning.

Course of action

This sub-project aims to develop the competent and critical use of machine translation and other digital language tools in Swiss university contexts. Users will learn how to harness these technologies effectively and become (more) aware of the risks and opportunities. After an initial literature review, a survey will be conducted to analyse the current practices of members of Swiss universities with regard to machine translation. Based on the survey results, interventions will be developed and implemented in the participating universities. The sub-project outcomes will be disseminated to other Swiss universities and the wider applied linguistics community.

This project contributes to the following SDGs

  • 4: Quality education