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Exploring Translation in Language Learning

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Malgorzata Smentek

This book explores the functions and potential of translation in language learning. It demonstrates that despite its changing fortunes in the history of foreign language teaching, translation has a prominent part to play both in the L2 classroom and beyond. As a cognitive process and a quintessential communicative activity, it not only boosts the learner’s bilingual and bicultural competence, but also promotes and accelerates the development of the skill of translation. Considering its diverse educational assets as well as the results of a research survey presented in this book, the author argues that translation practice should become an integral element of contemporary foreign language education.

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Chapter 1 Translation in Foreign Language Teaching: A Historical Perspective

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Chapter One Translation in Foreign Language Teaching: A Historical Perspective

Nobody really knows what is new or what is old in present-day language teaching procedures. There has been a vague feeling that modern experts have spent their time in discovering what other men have forgotten; […] much that is being claimed as revolutionary in this century is merely a rethinking and renaming of early ideas and procedures.

(Kelly 1969: ix)

1.1 Introductory remarks

Today’s foreign language learners face a real challenge when it comes to selecting the right language school, method or coursebook. They can opt to learn the language through traditional face-to-face instruction, live online training in virtual classrooms or by means of interactive online self-study, to mention but a few. Alternatively, they can decide to study the language abroad through total immersion in the target language and culture, or at home, aided by quick-fix solutions, such as SITA. Bombarded with promises of “success-guaranteed” methods, like the Callan Method: “Learn English in a quarter of the time!”2, the learner has every right to feel confused. The multitude of offers is truly bewildering, and − as we well know − the greater the spectrum of choices, the greater the dilemma. Therefore, the final decision as to which path to follow remains a complex one, and not only for the learner, but for all the parties concerned.

There is, however, no shortcut to success in language learning since all contexts,...

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