A step forward to using translation to teacha foreign/second language QUESTION: To what extent can the class incorporate translation activities? AIM: To inform the broader question of whether translation can be a major methodology in today’s language teaching.
Translation as an old methodGrammar- L1 in L2 Focus on learning grammar Much grammarTranslation (GT) rules and vocabulary, and Few listening &method deductive L2 learning speakingNatural Method or L2 in L2 Oral-aural approach in the More listeningDirect Method early stage of L2 learning Less speaking “input before output”Audiolingual L2 in L2 Habit-forming approach Less writingMethod (ALM) based on behaviorism More speaking Exposure to language inputCommunicative L2 in L2 Meaningful input in L2 More speakingapproach Realistic situations and writing RealiaNotional/functional L2 in L2 language as a tool of More speakingsyllabus communication and writing functional equations between L1 and L2 usage
Current post-communicative, cognitive paradigm Ellis (1996) • Grammar can enhance learner syntactic system Brown (1994) & Larsen-Freeman • Grammar teaching + Communicative tasks (1991) Dought & • “Focus on form” instruction Williams (1998) • Tradition synthetic grammar +context Focus on form • Negotiating meaning / metalinguistic discussion approach • Forms in communication | Holistic activities Constructivist • Authentic, challenging and meaningful projects approach • Learner’s experiences into class activities
Current post-communicative, cognitive paradigm No L1 Is L1 helpful in L2 learning? L1? Is it more beneficial than erroneous? • Bilinguals access one common storage sys- tem containing both L1 and L2 vocabulary. Macaro • L1 to assist learners’ comprehension of (2003) L2 by creating more networks between nodes in their long term memory.
L1 use in L2 instruction and translation in an advanced L2 program THIS STUDY to explore effective ways of using the ‘act of translating’ to promote these learners better comprehension of L2 texts Teaching translation Translation as a product English-speaking learners Translation processes Translation from L2 into L1 Reverse sentence translation (from L1 into L2) To show whether they understand or not. To raise awareness of sentence structure and part related to meaning
L1 use in L2 instruction and translation The act of translating requires understanding of the original text, and linguistic and non-linguistic abilities and skills to recreate the original text meaning in another language. 1) It naturally creates more opportunities for the learners to focus not only on meaning, but also on the form of the text; 2) working back and forth between L1 and L2 can naturally bring not only explicit attention to the form and meaning of the text, but also discussion on linguistic and non-linguistic forms; 3) the act of translating can provide the learners with holistic challenging projects, involving problem-solving, and integrate linguistic, cultural, and pragmatic knowledge beyond com- municating using language.
Act of translating as a method intoteaching Japanese as a second language Setting Taken after a core course (4 years) Translation Subject activities 12 weeks over 3 months a) further development of students’ Japanese language skills b) learning basic differences between English and Japanese c) in-class experiences working between two languages and cultures Introduction and use of act of translating for teaching Part A) In-class activities translating mostly in pairs and groups Part B) Outside class outside of the class semester long project
Part A) In-class activities (Text comprehension/translation) Translation activities in class first six week period 1) Sentence level translation, with focus on one particular linguistic target at one time 2) Short article translation integrated into reading exercises involving various genres, such as newspaper, magazine, essays, and internet media. Assessment translation at the end of the first six weeks tests at the end of the semester 1st test translating one from a choice of two short essays (approximately 350 words: L2 to L1 translation) 30 minutes 2nd test sentence level (L1 to L2) translation and essay translation (L2 to L1: two out of three choices: 300–350 characters each) two hours.The essays were based on the topics covered Learners bilingual dictionaries butduring the six week teaching period no other references
Act of translating as a method intoteaching Japanese as a second language Learner feedback and Teacher observation Learners’ information •Researcher’s recording •Questionnaires Learner expectations of the subject Activities the learners liked and disliked Activities the learners considered useful for their language learning Teacher/researcher observation on each activity Students quickly got bored with translating sentences. After a few inquiries to clarify the objectives, most of them appeared to manage the work fine.
Act of translating as a teaching method Test Results Errors 1) extra meaning added by the reader (example: 市民 was translated as ‘innocent people’ instead of ‘civilians’ in a war article) 2) missing words 3) loan words (example ニーズ was understood as ‘news’, not as ‘needs’) 4) Voc-synonym (example; AFP通信 was understood as AFP communication, instead of AFP correspondence) 5) voc-antonym (they chose an opposite word) 6) voc-wrong (word choice completely out of context) 7) expression-wrong (collocation wasn’t understood properly such as in 腰をすえる) 8) syntactic misunderstanding (e.g. subjects of clauses were changed due to not understanding the sentence structure).
Results The large proportion of the errors stemmed from vocabulary problems (61% in total) More or less every student’s work included some vocabulary errors despite their being allowed to use dictionaries. Syntactic errors appear to be more detrimental to their translation quality. Students who performed better in their translation work tended to interpret further, whereas the translation of lower performing students contained missing parts or misunderstanding of some expressions.
Results The students performed better with the essay translation than sentence level translation.
Discussion Assessment of the first introduction Understanding learners’ general attitudes/perceptions toward the new methodologyThe students generally liked usingtranslation as a teaching methodologyfor the large part of the subject About half of the learners (48%) found the materials challenging but manageable, and a few (10%) found them too easyHow to assess the students’ learning assistedby act of translating to be acceptable to bothteacher and students needs further study Inquiry into teaching and assessment materials for the subject is required.
Discussion Evaluating the introductory teaching A) Teaching materials & tests Sentence level translation The L1 into L2 translation prevented them from utilising a large part of their knowledge, enabling them to access only ideation available in both L1 and L2 Passage level translation The test analysis revealed that syntactic errors caused more damage to theirtranslation than vocabulary errors. TestStudents with less grammatical skills did not perform as well as those whopossessed good grammatical skills. Semi-independent vocabulary learning:Those who were able to connect vocabulary to area knowledge appeared toenjoy the activities.
B) Approach Discussion The fundamental premise of the approach was that positive inclusion of L1 in classroom instruction creates a potentially powerful learning environment for already advanced L2 learners to further their reading and writing skills in L2. Analysis shows the following points need to be taken into account and certain aspects explored further in order to advance the effectiveness of using translation as a method in such classes: 1) Translation between L2 and L1 includes not only L2 language skills but also L1 literacy and background knowledge on the topics to a large extent. Therefore, materials which can absorb a range of learner variables need to be developed. Alternatively, class activities should be structured so that learners can adjust their translation task to their level. 2) Students demonstrated insufficient interest towards the exercises using sentence level translation. Before including sentence level translation in future, the possible causes of the negative response need investigation to discover whether the problem is due to: a) irrelevant topics and content of the sentences used; b) direction of the translation; and c) formats for the exercises.
Discussion3) Students showed very different knowledge and interest in the current topic, whereas they more commonly were interested in the social topics. It is not certain whether the difference in current or social topics, or their familiarity with the contents or sentence style, resulted in the different reception of the two areas. Further research into how to grade the difficulty of translation tasks on articles should be undertaken.4) Semi-independent project work also demonstrated substantial variation in students’ vocabulary learning. The spread between successful and unsuccessful learners was wider in this task than in the other two types of in- class translation practice. This suggests that semi-independent work can assist good learners better. However, it can also result in leaving weaker learners further behind, so the optimal amount of semi-independent work in the course needs further investigation.5) The test analysis showed that every student had some sort of vocabulary problem even when using dictionaries and a reasonable amount of background knowledge. It also showed syntactic errors had more impact on the quality of their translation. In an L2 class where ‘act of translating’ is used as a teaching method, vocabulary, syntax and their relation could be learned effectively by focusing on where the learners have demonstrated insufficient understanding by failing to translate appropriately.
Discussion Next step to improve the use of translation as a teaching method for L2 class Feedback from the students and teacher observation show a definitely positive attitude towards developing act of translating as a major method. The results of the study suggest that the following are the potential strengths of the method for raising students’ Japanese text comprehension: a) developing information networking in the brain; b) developing learner self-assessment of appropriateness of their L2 tagged information; c) encouraging utilisation of available resources (e.g. Færch & Kasper, 1983: interlanguage based achievement strategy use); d) providing opportunities to focus on form; e) making available input likely to become intake through interaction between L1 and L2; f) widening the scope of language learning: inclusion of own cultural context and the sociolinguistic nature of the original text; and g) providing a hands-on approach which expands L2 learning,
Source:Machida, S. (2008). A Step Forward to Using Translation to Teach a Foreign/Second Language. Electronic Journal of Foreign Language Teaching, 5, 140-155.