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Language Teaching and Translation

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LANGUAGE TEACHING AND TRANSLATION The use of translation as an inherent part of FLT was prevalent until early in the present century. The Grammar-Translation method, dominant during the first half of the century, stressed translation and grammatical analysis, and put greater emphasis on accuracy than on fluency, preferring academic erudition to communicative competence (Titone& Danesi 1985).

At the turn of the century, the Grammar-Translation method gradually gave way to the Direct Method (more characteristic of ELT in Europe than in America (Rivers 1991)), which advocated maximum exposure to the target language, with no recourse either to L1 or to translation.

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During this period, “Translation used to be regarded as a necessary evil” (Levenston 1985a). The Direct Method made its way very prominently into the field of ELT in the east during the British Mandate (Bamberger 1958).

The American behaviorist school (Skinner 1938; Watson 1913) of language teaching ushered in the Audio-lingual Method, which concentrated on patterns and structure with an emphasis on drill and technique. The product, not the process, was important; there was to be minimal explanation of rules and no recourse to translation (Larsen-Free-man 1962). The reaction to the audio-lingual method, grounded in the Chomskian Revolution, was the Communicative Approach (Ministry of Education 1988; Savignon 1987).

Communicative competence “has come to be used in language teaching contexts to refer to the ability to negotiate meaning, to successfully combine a knowledge of linguistic and sociolinguistic rules in communicative interactions”(Savignon 1987: 16). At the same time, the advance of cognitive psychology, which was also influenced by the Chomskian revolution, made an impact on ELT (Titone & Danesi 1985). The findings of cognitive psychology indicated that “deductive, or rule-based, strategies play a prominent role in language learning.

Deductive teaching methods are therefore based on the learning principles of cognitive psychology and its linguistic counterpart, transformationalism, and are generally known as cognitive-code procedures” (Titone & Danesi 1985: 110). “The role of the teacher is to recognize the importance of mental activity in learning” (Chastain 1971:92). Teachers of FLT were now called upon to address the problems of consciousness raising. (Bialystok 1986, 1988; Carrel 1989; Castillo 1991; Cohen 1986; Gerloff 1986; Hosenfeld 1978; Kern 1989; Rivers 1991; Rubin 1975; Templeton 1989; Thomas 1988; Vieira 1991; Wenden & Rubin 1987).

It came to be realized that the study of translation skills might have value as a means of raising the learner’s linguistic awareness with regard to his or her native as well as to the foreign language (Boersch 1986; Carton 1966, cited by Rubin 1986; Faerch ; Kasper 1986; Hosenfeld 1978; Lehmann 1986; Levenston 1985b; Loerscher 1986; Ministry of Education 1990; Naiman 1978, quoted by Levenston 1985a; Rosenblith, stated in Ackerman 1992; Sharwood Smith 1981; Titford 1983).

The contrastive analysis of the two languages, L1 and L2, which accompanies the translation process, is presumed to heighten the learner’s metalinguistic awareness of both languages and to facilitate their perception as abstract language systems.

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