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Master of Arts (M.A.)
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Translation is an important language skill in multilingual societies and the globalized world. Some scholars even claim that translation skill should be the fifth language skill in addition to the conventional four basic skills of second language competence - listening, speaking, reading, and writing (Newmark, 1991; Naimushin, 2002; Leonardi, 2011). However, the current mainstream communicative teaching approach tries to avoid the use of translation in language classrooms, mainly because of the possible negative transfer of the first language and low priority given to writing. This study aims to identify the pedagogical role of translation in language teaching through the exploration of the relationships between learners’ second language competence and translation ability, in the hope of providing empirical evidence to support the application of translation in language teaching.
A total of 48 participants learning Chinese as a second language participated in this study. The participants’ translation ability was measured by a translation task and their language competence was measured by the course final oral and written test. We found that translation can expose learners to their weaknesses in the following aspects including word order, word choice, omission, and featured grammar structures like descriptive complements. The expanding gap between Chinese to English and English to Chinese translation, as well as the gap between accuracy and expression, show that learners’ translation ability cannot be developed in a balanced way without interruption.
In addition, we found that participants’ translation ability is positively correlated with their second language competence, which shows that students’ translation ability potentially has a positive effect on second language competence. Moreover, we observed a strong correlation between translation and speaking at the intermediate level, which supports that utilizing translation in second language teaching could be beneficial to second language competence, especially for speaking competence. Moreover, a relatively loose correlation between translation ability and reading and writing competence shows that we cannot expect a person who can read and write to be a natural translator. Therefore, proper training in translation is necessary if we believe translation is an important skill that students need to acquire.
Pan, Chensimeng, "Second Language Competence and Translation Ability: An Investigation of English-native Speakers Learning Chinese as a Second Language" (2022). Masters Theses. 1236.