Is this sort of thing the result of too much translation, or not enough of it?
Image: Jonas Merian
As a follow up to the very thought-provoking talk by Guy Cook at International House's recent DOS Conference, one of the topics we looked at on #ELTChat this week was the notion of translation and its role in the foreign language learning classroom. You can access the transcript of our chat here.
This issue of translation reminds me in a lot of ways of the notion of dialogic (unplugged) teaching, in that it seems to involve so much that is looming there just beneath the surface of what we do as teachers (and what our students instinctively do as learners) and despite the undeniable weight of common sense anchoring it there, we risk completely overlooking it if we aren't willing to thrust our faces into the water from time to time.
You can check out Guy's talk and our #ELTChat ponderings at the links above, but at this point I think it would be fair to say that we haven't really had a sensible (enough) look at translation in the foreign or second language classroom.
And beyond that, I think it's a pretty good time to look at how and why translation could become a more productive and effective technique and skill in our classrooms (in practical terms), as part of the eclectic teacher's approach, as something that is given room (and credence) in coursebooks, and what this might mean for (and draw from) both bilingual and monolingual teachers of English.
BUT, that said, I'm not keen on something like translation being handed a sort of "latest fad" sudden free reign over everything we do or think about in our classrooms. Goodness knows we've had enough in the way of wild pendulum swings in this profession of ours...
So this is something I plan to think about a bit more and perhaps post about in the coming weeks.
But over to you... If you're inclined to believe that translation has been unfairly neglected (or portrayed) in language teaching, and ought to "come in from the cold", how would you go about making it a practical and productive part of your teaching?
Interested (as always) to hear your thoughts!