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Adapting an alternative pedagogical approach to promote second language translation as a language learning tool

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingForeword/postscript

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPrinceton Japanese Pedagogy Forum
Pages40-51
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - May 2012

Abstract

This paper addresses pedagogical issues arising from university courses in translation. In particular, the current paper is concerned with translation into the second language as an academic exercise at undergraduate level. The primary purpose of such courses is usually to improve learners’ linguistic proficiency through translation practice. In other words, the default classroom setting is often non-vocational, where traditional techniques are used to develop language-based skills such as reading and writing. In addition, translation teachers often evaluate the product of students’ translations under exam conditions rather than taking into account the translation processes. In this traditional training approach, there is not much space for the students to explain their decisions, target audience, or textual styles that are found in the target culture.

The notion of commented translation has been adapted by many translation teachers recently. This commentary model allows students to describe their bottom-up and high-level processing strategies including their meta-comments or reflection on certain strategies. For the current paper, four groups of students were assigned to an English-to-Japanese translation project that was based on a commentary model. Twenty-three Japanese learners at upper beginner’s level participated as part of their second year degree programme. The analysis of their commentaries uncovered their micro-strategies such as orthographic choice, use of proper names, and syntactic analysis and so on, while their macro-strategies showed clear attempts at cultural comparison and decoding (understanding the source text), product planning, back translation, as well as editing and self-assessment (producing target text and quality control). In short, the students’ commentaries successfully demonstrated translators’ decisions and their translation processes with coherent translation outputs in the target language, Japanese. In conclusion, this paper will report on lower-proficient learners as translators, and their cultural/language awareness, their strategies to contextualize translation problems, collaborative experience, and actions.

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