Translation in Foreign Language Teaching

Student thesis: Master programme thesis

  • Mark Wesenberg Thoms
2. Term (Master), Danish (Minor subject) (Elective Study or Minor Subject)
According to several linguists, the merits and drawbacks of translation as a tool in the foreign-language classroom (L2) are generally unexplored, and opinions about the role of translation differ widely. As a consequence of the communicative approach, the direct method, translation as a teaching tool has been rejected in the foreign-language classroom. Overall, the communicative approach is centred around communicative competence, and therefore rejects the use of students first language in language teaching. Translation was generally rejected because of the way the translation was used under the grammar-translation method. The grammar-translation method was mainly centred around translation and learning of grammatical structures, and did not take speaking and listening comprehension into account. Obviously, the grammar-translation method is no longer practiced in the foreign-language classroom. However, the form-oriented translation exercise, the grammar translation, may still be present in the foreign-language classroom. In the light of the information above, the aim of this thesis is to examine the role of translation in foreign-language teaching (FLT). The thesis will examine the following questions:
• How is translation used in foreign-language teaching?
• In what way is it possible to adopt a functional approach to translation in foreign-language teaching?

The focal point of the thesis’ theoretical basis is the works of Roger T. Bell, Guy Cook, Anne Schjoldager, and Christiane Nord. First and foremost, the thesis employs the works of Bell, Cook and Schjoldager, in order to define and understand the various concepts of translation. Subsequently, the thesis will employ the works of Schjoldager and Nord, in order to examine the functions of the Skopos-theory, which will be used in order to examine how it is possible to adopt a communicative and functional approach to translation in foreign-language teaching. Finally, the thesis will employ the works of Schjoldager and Dollerup, in order to gain insight in the debate regarding the role of translation in foreign-language teaching.
The empirical data consist of a questionnaire survey, involving three third year (3.g) classes, two STX-classes and one HHX-class. The results of the empirical data show that translation is not used frequently at the Danish upper secondary School level. The results also indicate that the students have a positive attitude towards translation in language teaching. However, the results also show that the students lack insight into the general concepts of translation because the students only associate translation with vocabulary and grammatical rules, structures, etc.
Furthermore, the thesis includes an account of the curriculum for English at the Danish upper secondary school (STX), and examples of two former translation exercises from the written examination at STX. This account shows that translation is not a part of the curriculum because of the fact that translation is not included as a part of the subject’s professional objective or as a part of subject’s core competencies. Therefore, the thesis argues that the Ministry of Education does not relate to how translation functions in the Danish upper secondary school, even though the translation exercise is a part of the written examination. On the basis of the accounts mentioned above, the thesis argues that translation merely functions as a grammar exercise, which focuses on grammatical structures, vocabulary, etc.
Moreover, the thesis includes a discussion of how the Skopos-theory and Nord’s translation theory functions in relation to education of professional translators. The aim of this chapter was to gain insight into how professional translators work with translation and in what way they use the theories. Furthermore, the chapter will examine whether or not it is possible to adopt concepts of Nord’s version of the Skopos-theory in FLT.
In relation to including a functional approach to translation in FLT, the thesis concludes that it may be useful to include an introduction of the Skopos-theory in FLT. Moreover, the thesis concludes that it may be useful to include an adjusted version of the rules of the Skopos-theory, translation brief, authentic and realistic texts and Nord’s description and treatment of translation problems in FLT.
Publication date11 Mar 2019
Number of pages78
ID: 298210759