Translating Readings Into English
This is a superb five star question from Lori:
I know that this was brought up once before – about the perceived over-reliance in TPRS of translating stories into English. This came up in my class recently after we did a short unit on polyglots. One of my students emailed the polyglot her group was studying and asked him questions about how to best learn a language. Most of what he said fit in perfectly with the CI approach: listen a lot at first to try to feel the language and don’t begin with grammar too soon, read a lot, find people to practice with, don’t try to be perfect. But then he also said that translating everything into English hindered the ability to think in the new language.
In addition, one of my slow-processors told me that he learned more from my short synopsis in Spanish of a novel’s chapter than when I translated everything into English out loud. On the last test I gave them, I had students draw a picture of the scene instead of translating into English. I just don’t know where the balance is in translating into English. Does translating into English help acquisition? I would appreciate feedback on this.
[edit. note: My initial reaction is to ask for more information. Lori, I assume we are talking about Step Three reading, correct? Or did this occur during snow plow reading of a novel? And you just gave a short overview of the chapter and the kid said it worked better than a direct translation, which I find marvelously effective. Hmmm. I’m turning this bad boy over to the group.]