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Exploring Translation in Language Learning


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 4 Translation in FLT: The Controversy


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Chapter Four Translation in FLT: The Controversy

4.1 Introductory remarks

In his paper entitled “The name and nature of translation studies”, James Holmes ([1972] 2004: 184) sketches an outline of the discipline of translation studies and introduces a general distinction between “pure research” areas of (1) theory1 and (2) description, and “applied” areas of (3) teaching/training and criticism. Yet, as he points out, the three branches of translation studies − theoretical, descriptive and applied − are not unrelated, the relation between them being, in fact, “a dialectical one with each of the three branches supplying materials for the other two” (Holmes ([1972] 2004: 190).

After all, apart from being a scholarly discipline, translation is − perhaps above all − “a discipline firmly rooted in practical application” (Bassnett-McGuire 1980: 7), or, as Holmes (1972 [2004]: 189) interestingly points out, not only a discipline “of light” but also one “of use”.2 It is particularly from this practical perspective, eyed through the prism of second language education, that translation will be viewed in the subsequent discussion of its function in language learning and teaching. ← 125 | 126 →

4.2 Translation in language education: An end and a means

Translation is thus conceived as an end desired in itself and as a method of furthering proficiency in the foreign language.

(Cordero 1984: 351)

As the previous chapter has attempted to demonstrate, translation is an extremely broad concept which, also within the applied/didactic...

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