Integrated Writing Assistants and their Possible Consequences for Foreign-Language Writing and Learning

Research output: Contribution to book/anthology/report/proceedingBook chapterResearchpeer-review


During the past decades, disruptive computer and information technologies have made their way into lexicography. Dictionaries have increasingly migrated from the printed to the digital media, and users can now access online dictionaries almost anywhere by means of a variety of devices. Recently, the traditional stand-alone dictionary has experienced growing competition from dictionaries integrated into other tools designed to assist reading, writing, translation, and learning in general. The latest additions are “intelligent”, context-aware dictionaries that are integrated into writing assistants and provide specially designed solutions adapted to their user’s particular needs in each situation.
Writing assistants work on laptops, tablets and smartphones where most writing takes place today. They connect the writer to big data (digital corpora and dictionaries) that are processed in order to provide instant assistance without the user having to consult external sources. These tools, which are still in embryo, have the potential to completely revolutionize L2 writing, speed up the writing process, improve the quality of the written text, and encourage weak writers and learners.
There is little doubt that technology is here to stay. Just as L2 learners used bilingual dictionaries for decades against their teachers’ advice, it is predictable that they will now use writing assistants on their digital devices whatever they are told. This suggests that they will become increasingly dependent on such tools. This may have a both positive and negative impact on their writing skills and foreign-language learning in general.
The article will present a Danish-English writing assistant published in 2018. It will look at some of the consequences for L2 writing based on a preliminary study of users of this tool. It will then discuss the future perspectives, the new possibilities to enhance L2 learning and stimulate the students’ immersion in their new language, as well as some of the new challenges to L2 didactics.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationApplied linguistics and knowledge transfer : employability, internationalization and social challenges
EditorsAna Bocanegra Valle
Place of publicationBern
PublisherPeter Lang
Publication date2020
ISBN (Print)978-3-0343-3714-4
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-0343-3719-9
Publication statusPublished - 2020


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