History[ edit ] Initially most comprehension teaching was based on imparting selected techniques for each genre that when taken together would allow students to be strategic readers. However, from s testing various methods never seemed to win support in empirical research.
Translation activities in the language classroom 3. This article looks at the role of translation as an activity for learners in the ELT classroom. It does not consider the role of the L1 as a teaching tool, for example for classroom management, setting up activities, or for explaining new vocabulary.
This question has been discussed elsewhere on the Teaching English site. The article starts by looking at what we mean by translation as an activity in the language classroom, and then briefly reviews the history of translation in language learning within the framework of various methodologies.
It then considers some of the many objections ELT thinkers and practitioners have had to translation, and some of the possible benefits of its use. It concludes with some observations about how to make translation tasks successful, and some activities.
Introduction Translation was a significant part of ELT for a long time, and then a significant missing part for a long time also. However, it and these other abandoned activities are now a feature of many communicative classrooms and successful aids to learning, although the approach to using them has changed.
As Duff says, teachers and students now use translation to learn, rather than learning translation. Modern translation activities usually move from L1 to L2, although the opposite direction can also be seen in lessons with more specific aimshave clear communicative aims and real cognitive depth, show high motivation levels and can produce impressive communicative results.
The history of translation in ELT methodologies As mentioned above, translation was the basis of language teaching for a very long time, and then rejected as new methodologies started to appear. It was a key element of the Grammar Translation Method, which was derived from the classical method of teaching Greek and Latin.
This was not a positive learning experience for many: Unsurprisingly, new methodologies tried to improve on this.
The Direct or Natural Method established in Germany and France around was a response to the obvious problems associated with the Grammar Translation Method. In the Direct Method the teacher and learners avoid using the learners' native language and just use the target language.
Like the Direct Method, the later Audio-Lingual Method tried to teach the language directly, without using the L1 to explain new items.
Objections to using translation We can consider possible problems with using translation by looking at possible negative impact on learners and then on teachers. Under each heading we can consider some of the concerns expressed.
Learners Translation teaches learners about language, but not how to use it. Translation does not help learners develop their communication skills. Translation encourages learners to use L1, often for long periods of class time, when the aim of modern teaching is to remove it from the classroom.
The skills involved in translation may not be suitable for all kinds of learners. It may, for example, be best for learners who are more analytical or have preferences for verbal-linguistic learning strategies. It may not be suitable either for young learners or lower levels. Learners may not see the value of translation as an activity to help them learn English, and instead see it as a specialised, and difficult, activity.
Translation is a difficult skill which must be done well in order to be productive and rewarding. Learners and teachers not only have to take into account meaning but also a range of other issues, including form, register, style, and idiom.
This is not easy, but too many translation activities rely on it being done well. Teachers Translation activities are tricky to set up and take a lot of preparation, especially anticipating possible problems. Translation requires a motivated class.
The teacher needs to have a sophisticated knowledge of the L1 and the L1 culture. Without this translation can create more problems than benefits.
This level of awareness is almost impossible in a multi-lingual class. Following on from this, if a teacher uses L1 in a translation activity then this can undermine their work to maintain an English-speaking environment in the class.
Learners inevitably see them as an L1 resource.
Translation is by definition text-bound, and confined to the two skills of reading and writing. This makes it hard to justify for many classes with time restrictions.
Translation is time-consuming and difficult but the teacher must be as good as and better than the learners at it, to be able to manage the activity well. Benefits Many ELT teachers and theorists now see the validity and value of translation as an activity in communicative classrooms although few coursebook writers offer ideas and materials for this area.
Below are some of the ways translations can have a positive impact; many of these also serve as responses to the objections and criticisms expressed above: Designed well, translation activities in the classroom can practise the 4 skills and the 4 systems.
In terms of communicative competence, they require accuracy, clarity and flexibility. Following on from this, translation is by its nature a highly communicative activity; the challenge is to make sure that the content being communicated is relevant and that we exploit all possibilities for communication during the activity.Find great deals on eBay for reading writing and learning in esl.
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