Unit 2: Why, Translation method is important in language learning?


Why Translation?

Translation, as defined in the Oxford English Dictionary, is the action or process of turning from one language into another or the product of this, or, also, a version in a different language. Yet, L2-L1 translation practice and vocabulary acquisition have not been sufficiently discussed. While L2-L1 translation requires searching for meaning, recognition of word form, and later use in word production, L2-L1 translation is less common in L2 instruction than L1-L2, but textbooks are designed so that students have to learn equivalents of Spanish words in English. Laufer and Girsai (2008) conducted a study of effect of explicit contrastive analysis and translation on L2 vocabulary learning. They explain why translation is a valuable exercise for vocabulary learning:

“Translation tasks embody the element of need since the words that have to be understood (when translating into L1), or produced (when translating into L2) are predetermined by the source text. The element of search is present as well…. Most importantly, an element of evaluation is necessary to carry out translation activity. There is usually more than one translation alternative for a given sentence. Therefore, when translating, learners have to make a decision as to how each alternative fits the text they create” (Laufer & Girsai, p. 698).

Approaches to Translation

There are three approaches in terms of translation method.

Linguistic approaches Literary or poetic approaches Socio-cultural approaches
Analysts and researchers looked at: Linguistic asymmetries and anisomorphisms in translation interface; The language-specific nature of meaning; The nature of communication and its limitations in different manifestations’ The lexis identity and grammar; The lack of interaction between usage and use, in most situations. Studies on translation focused on: How translation gets shaped or conditioned by literature; What means are to be used in order to translate different literary texts, modes, etc.; How texts can be related within context and time. Scholars supporting this approach give a strong roll to cultural aspects for translation purposes. They insist on the fact that translation can no longer be justified in terms of language or text type analysis. They insist on the lack of linguistic interaction between L1 and L2, following lexical, syntactic, and even morphologic identical means in both languages.

Go to Unit 3: What is advantages of using translation as a teaching resource?