Translation and language learning
The role of translation in the teaching of languages in the European Union : summary
This study asks how translation, both written and spoken, can contribute to the learning of a foreign or second language (L2) in primary, secondary and higher education. It is based on questionnaire surveys that were responded to by a total of 963 experts and teachers; the qualitative research process further benefited from input by 101 contributors. The study includes case studies of the institutional and pedagogical relations between translation and the preferred language-learning methods in seven Member States (Croatia, Finland, France, Germany, Poland, Spain and the United Kingdom) and... three comparison countries (Australia, China and the United States). The general finding is that L2 teachers, in Europe and elsewhere, prefer ‘communicative’ teaching methodologies but often do not see that translating is a communicative act. In many cases translation is frowned upon in the L2 classroom, along with the use of L1 generally. If stakeholders believe that L1 should be excluded from the L2 classroom, in tune with ideals of ‘immersion’ and the teacher as a ‘native speaker’, then translation activities are automatically excluded as well. Translation nevertheless remains present as scaffolding to help learners initially, as a traditional means of checking on acquisition, and in learners’ ‘mental translation’ processes, when they internally relate L2 to L1 even when L1 is not used in class. The predominant ideologies of language learning can create a sense of guilt associated with the use of translation – it is something teachers and learners do, but they feel they should not be doing – and there may even be a sense of translation as a retrograde pedagogical activity, a remnant of the nineteenth-century grammar translation method.
- Corporate author(s): Directorate-General for Translation (European Commission) Themes: Terminology and linguistics, Teaching
- Subject: foreign language, language teaching, multilingualism, teaching method, translation
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