The European Union Takes Another Shot at Machine Translation

A recent addition to the European Union’s efforts in machine translation has got some press recently. The Translation for Massive Open Online Courses (TraMOOC) project, which launched in February 2015, has secured 3 million EUR in funding under the EU’s giant Horizon 2020 Research initiative. Horizon 2020 is the largest EU Research and Innovation programme with over €80 billion of funding available over a period of seven years starting in 2014.

TraMOOC is a collaborative project of ten academic institutions and businesses: Humboldt Universität zu Berlin, Dublin City University, University of Edinburgh, Ionian University, Stichting Katholieke Universiteit, EASN-Technology Innovation Services BVBA, Deluxe Media Europe Ltd, Stichting Katholieke Universiteit Brabant, Iversity GMBH, and Knowledge 4 All Foundation LBG (K4A). It aims to leverage an online translation platform utilizing a wide array of linguistic infrastructure tools to reliably translate multimedia data of MOOCs from English into eleven other languages: German, Italian, Portuguese, Greek, Dutch, Bulgarian, Czech, Croatian, Polish, Russian and Chinese

The Dublin City University described the project’s broad scope in a recent blog post: “MOOCs are online courses aimed at unlimited participation and open access via the Web. A relatively new development in distance learning, they have been growing rapidly in size and impact. Yet the language barrier constitutes a major growth impediment in reaching out to all people and educating all citizens. TraMOOC will tackle this impediment by developing high-quality systems for the automatic translation of various types of texts within MOOCs – varying from video lectures, assignments, tutorial text, to social media messages posted on MOOC blogs and fora, which are currently not covered by any of the existing translation platforms.”

The translation will be provided by machine translation (MT), but the open-source platform also includes premium add-on services such as post-edited MT, transcription and subtitling, and multilingual review services for student assignments. The TraMOOC website explains it “focuses on the quality of the generated translation in the target languages that constitute strong use cases and are fragmentarily or weakly supported by existing MT solutions.”