Monday, 30 July 2012

Reading #5: Making the Most of Online Translators in Foreign Language Classrooms by Charlene Polio

Polio's article is somewhat relevant to my experiences with ESL students. She is correct when she states that students who try to translate directly from one language to another can change the meaning of the statement. Often times it doesn't make sense when one of my students tries to translate a sentence from Korean to English for example. The meaning is lost in the translation and it becomes pretty clear for me as a teacher.

The other thought that stuck out to me was that students need strong language skills to use translators appropriately. If their English vocabulary is so limited that they aren't aware when the sentence doesn't make sense in English, then maybe the translator isn't all that useful. In my classes, I am okay with students using translators, but they need to develop other word attack skills such as using context clues.

I am not sure if we can practice translating from one language to another in my class because the students have varied backgrounds. I have students who come from various parts of Asia and even Africa or South America, so they don't all speak the same L1. I see how the translating lessons could work if I was teaching FSL to English speaking students though.

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