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  1. #1
    Abstract Idea is offline Key Member
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    Default Language Teaching Methods (Translation?)

    I know there are two main methods to teach a foreign language:

    1) Based on translation, using the mother tongue of the learner (or maybe another language the learner masters).

    2) Based only on the foreign language, trying go make the students
    "think in English" (the way babies learn their first native language).


    I learned English as a foreign language using method 2, but now I teach a
    class of intermediate students who insist in translating everything all the
    time to their native language, they just don't accept other alternative.
    When they learn something new, they translate it. When they want to
    say something in English, first they think on their NL and then they translate (after some mins). The method and material I use (from the school) are
    about 10% based on translation. I guess I have a problem.

    Once I heard from a very intelligent educator (working on Science Teaching)
    that the repeating techinic of English Teaching, without translation, simply
    didnt work with her and she was totally against it, saying that it didnt give the
    student space to think. Since this person was important to me, I keep thinking on what she said.

    Well, I haven't made my mind yet. From the above, which is the best way to teach English as a foreign language?

  2. #2
    basim kefaji is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: Language Teaching Methods (Translation?)

    My dear colleague;
    I've read about your problem.I've been teaching English for more than thirty years.I can assure you that teaching English using the translation method is completely useless.If you find the following bits of advice useful to you you can follow them.
    1.Use the NL only when it's necessary and saves time an efforts.
    2.Give your pupils the chance to talk in the TL(target language) most of the time.As much as they talk and use the language the best results you'll get.
    3.Give them assignments to do either in pair work or group work.
    4.Let your pupils correct their language mistakes by encouraging the pupils who give the correct answers.If you do this the pupil who had made a mistake will know that he was wrong.
    5.Do your best to use real life situations from inside the classroom or from outside school.
    6.Don't let assessment be your target.Your target should be helping the pupils to learn the language .Try to use the ongoing assessment .
    7.Listening to native English speakers is very important.You can use materials on tapes or CDs.
    8.Let your lessons be enjoyable and interesting.

    With My Best Wishes.
    Basim Kefaji.

  3. #3
    Abstract Idea is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: Language Teaching Methods (Translation?)

    Thank you very much for your kind answer basim kefaji. I have read over and over your words, and I will keep on reading and reflecting on them for a long
    time. I have forgotten to say that I have less than six months of experience
    on English Teaching, so it is very important to hear from someone with more than thirty years of experience. Also English Teaching is not my main job, I
    teach because I like and also to improve my own English skills. Indeed I have
    been able to learn quite a lot of English trying to teach it.

    Well, but the point is: For me, the method based only on the TL (target language) worked quite well, and I am using it to learn other foreign languages as well - but I recognize that for some individuals it may not work well.
    I mean, I know there are serious professionals on Language Teaching which
    defend the translation method, and I would like to hear from them.
    For example: What do you say about the Pimsleur method, totally based
    on translation?

  4. #4
    Eden Darien's Avatar
    Eden Darien is offline Member
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    Default Re: Language Teaching Methods (Translation?)

    Hello,

    In my view, teaching a language while in the same time translating it into students mother tongue is not totally useless. It depends on the individual which method is better for them.

    In teaching a language, linguist had suggested a lot of methods. As far as I can tell, they are behaviourism, audio-lingual, and so forth.

    I do believe that audio-lingual methods such as Pimsleur are only good for beginner and intermediate level. To learn a new language it is advisable to think in the targeted language ways. If you want to learn English think like them... It can help you a lot in future.

    If your students kept insisting you to translate everything for them, is not good, if you ask me. Believe me, now I am learning Korean, and I can speak Intermediate Korean in only 8 months. I recalled that since my first class, our teacher did not use even a single word in English. They used another method of translating for example drawing, singing, and acting. It helps us a lot, albeit I felt like I'm almost wanted to choke myself to death...

  5. #5
    Abstract Idea is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: Language Teaching Methods (Translation?)

    Regarding my students of course I know translation is not good for them. As I said I work with them in an English Course, which already has its own method.
    Their method is based about 10% on translation. I know I have a problem to fix.

    The point I would like to stress is that I think when you mix both methods you
    may miss your goal. I believe that in order to work, the TL thinking method
    should be complete: 100% I believe when you translate one single word to
    the students NL some kind of breaking occur and all the previous work
    seems to be lost.

    On the other way, I think the translating method might work. I have two questions
    for the readers of the present topic:

    1) Is there anybody here who has learned English, or know someone who has, with the Translation Method?

    2) Do you think it is possible to learn English, at least the listening and speaking skills, quite well, by just watching movies with subtitles
    on the student Native Language? Imagine someone watchs two or
    more DVD movies per day, repeating over and over the speechs with
    the remote control. (Translation Method - similar to Pimsleur)

  6. #6
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    Mehrgan is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: Language Teaching Methods (Translation?)

    Hi there,
    What I believe is, some teachers at times get to a point when they can't see the wood for the trees...You'd better not get that obsessed with different methodologies, though you should have a good understanding of the main ones and make the best of them all (say, the eclective strategy)...Try to be flexible, but mainly get your pupils think and function in English...Everyday tasks do a lot of good in EFL classes, so get them engaged by asking them to bring into class some materials of their own interest, and every now and then ask for their reflection on what they bring, this way they feel responsible for their learning and wouldn't persist in translating or any other weird strategies they themselves find useless as they work on their own materials...I'd forget all about GTM at any cost, by the way!

  7. #7
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Language Teaching Methods (Translation?)

    I've always thought that looking on translation as some kind of evil to be driven out of the classroom was over the top. Of course there are issues if learners depend too much on it, but it can be a useful technique.

    If someone learned by watching endless films and repeating things, they could probably get to as fairly high level, but they'd probably have a very distinctive idiolect.

  8. #8
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    ICAL_Pete is offline Member
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    Default Re: Language Teaching Methods (Translation?)

    Using the students’ MT in the classroom can be useful at times but overall it's best avoided, why? This ICALwiki article explains.…

  9. #9
    PSAttorney is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: Language Teaching Methods (Translation?)

    I'll take the minority position and say that translation is a useful tool when the teacher is conversant in the student's primary language. I cannot tell you how many times I have discovered a student misunderstood an idea or concept in a text (oral or written) because I listened to the students' translation of what he or she saw or read. The translation thus aided the student's comprehension of the material. Judicious use of the student's primary language in presenting grammar or providing instructions saves precious class time. Once language is obtained, moreover, people use language to learn. It seems counterintuitive to me to say that you can learn everything using your native language except another language -- that, you have to learn as if you have no language skills at all.

    The "target language approach" also runs counter to good teaching principles. Good teaching says use every possible tool to reach the student. One of those tools obviously is a common language. Granted that you do need to emphasize the idea that word-for-word translation doesn't work, but I have found that most students figure that out pretty quickly. The only time I have resorted to "target language only" is when students were choosing too often to express themselves in the native language, and not in English.

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