Translation is also seeing a revival in language teaching. In John William's introduction to Cook (1996) and Schachter (1996), he states that "tasks that promote 'multi-lingual' competence (for example translation and interpreting)" are valuable for language teachers. Selinker (1992; 1996, p. 103) further added that translation equivalents aid in the formation of interlanguage competence "as they are an important strategy for learners as they 'look across' linguistic systems." According to Selinker, variation in translation ability is related to variationin language proficiency. Thus, an advanced learner will will have a better translation ability. However, Toury (1986) counters this view. It remains unsure whether training in translation will help improve procficiency.
Objections toward the use of translation started in the 1900s with the members of the early reform movement. According to Lado (1964), one of the most outspoken anti-translationalists:
Translation is not a substitute for language practice. Arguments supporting this principle are (1) that few words if any are fully equivalent in any two languages, (2) that the student, thinking that the words are equivalent, erroneously assumes that his translation can be extended to the same situations as the original and as a result makes mistakes, and (3) that word-for-word translations produce incorrect constructions.
Psychologically, the process of translation is more complex than, different from, and unnecessary for speaking, listening, reading, or writing. Furthermore, good translation cannot be achieved without master of the second language. We, therefore, teach the language first, and then we may teach translation as a separate skill, if that is considered desirable. (p. 53-4)
Malmkjær (1998) sums up the arguments against the use of translation in language teaching:
- is independent of the four skills which define language competence: reading, writing, speaking and listening
- is radically different from the four skills
- takes up valuable time which could be used to teach these four skills
- is unnatural
- misleads students into thinking that expressions in two languages correspond one-to-one
- prevents students from thinking int he foreign language
- produces interference
- is a bad test of language skills
- is only appropriate for training translators (p. 6)
Malmkjær (1998) names the five activities in translation: (i) Anticipation; (ii) Resource Exploitation; (iii) Co-operation; (iv) Revision; (v) Translating. There is no fixed order and boundaries in the occurence of these activities.
In the Anticipation stage, the source text context is established (by whom, why, when, for whom) as is the target text (who wants it, for whom, why, when, who wants). Additionally, references, such as dictionaries, original and/or similar target language texts, are consulted for terminology, phrasing, structure, and layout; cooperation with other translators and experts is also anticipated.
In the Resource Exploitation stage, the materials gathered in the previous stage is studied.
The Translation and Cooperation stage occurs almost concurrently. In this stage, problems are pooled together for later solved through consulting fellow translators, native speakers or experts.
Finally, in the Revision stage, the final version is produced.
Contrary to popular belief, translation lends itself to much practice with reading, writing, listening, and speaking. It is not independent from the four skills, but is instead dependent and inclusive in them. Another fallacy is that translation is a time-waster in language education. Also it is time-consuming, it would so off base to say that it is a complete waste of time.
Appropriate translation requires that the person translating the text be competent in both the source language and the target language; the person should also be able to relate the two systems appropriately; in addition, they should also minimize negative interference and maximize positive interference.
Finally, Malmkjær (1998) reiterates that if real-life translation is transposed into the language classroom, students will learn that words in different languages do not have a one-to-one relationship. In addition, doing translation activities will lead to forming an interference, and having ample practice will lead to a better awareness and control of the skill. Finally, the activity can also be applied to all four skills. And, if resources are allowed to be used in translation test situations, it will greatly lower the anxiety of students.
Cook, V. J. (1996). Competence and multi-competence. In G. Brown, K. Malmkjær, & J. N. Williams (eds.). Performance and Competence in Second Language Acquisition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Lado, R. (1964). Language teaching: A scientific approach. New York: McGraw-Hill, Inc.
Schachter, J. (1996). Learning and triggering in adult L2 acquisition. In G. Brown, K. Malmkjær, & J. N. Williams (eds.). Performance and Competence in Second Language Acquisition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Selinker, L. (1996). On the notion of 'IL competence' in early SLA research: An aid to understanding some baffling current issues. In G. Brown, K. Malmkjær, & J. N. Williams (eds.). Performance and Competence in Second Language Acquisition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Toury, G. (1986). Monitoring discourse transfer: A test-case for a developmental model of translation. In J. House and S. Blum-Kulka (eds.). Interlingual and intercultural communication: Discourse and cognition in translation and second language acquisition studies. Tubingen: Gunter Narr Verlag.
Ulrych, M. (1996). Communication through translation. Cambridge Language Reference news 2, p. 1. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, ELT Division.