Action Research

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This is research about translation used in combination with other methods in foreign language teaching.

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Action Research ProjectUniversity of Oregon : 

Action Research ProjectUniversity of Oregon Nora Branson Baltic High School South Dakota

Grammar-translation method in foreign language teaching : 

Grammar-translation method in foreign language teaching The purpose of this study was to find out how grammar-translation method can be combined with other methods in foreign language teaching. The translation method I am talking about is not the strict classical method called the grammar translation method in which discussion is done in their native not target language but a modification. I feel the translation method works when combined with other methods.

Reasons for using the mother tongue : 

Reasons for using the mother tongue Opportunities for students to interact about content in their most proficient language helps them to discuss components of both languages they are learning and strengthens their bilingual and transition abilities. In a monolingual class the reasons for using the mother tongue are very convincing. The timesaving benefit Troubleshooting Comprehension. Keeps children’s attention.

Survey : 

Survey I decided to teach one Spanish 1 class using this method and my other Spanish 1 class without any involvement of translation. When I started the research I planned to answer the following questions: What is students’ attitude towards translation as a tool to learn Spanish? To answer this question I gave my students a survey and asked them to put the activities in order from the most favorite ones to the least favorite. As we see, they like translating from Spanish into English more than vice versa which is understandable. We all know that translating into your own language is a lot easier.

Slide 5: 

Survey results

Examples : 

Examples After every grammar that we learned I gave my students 10-15 sentences to translate. For example, after we did a lot of exercises on reflexive verbs they still complained that it was not quite clear to them. I gave them 10 sentences to translate from English into Spanish. They worked with a partner, then we went through the sentences together and I think they understood it better after it. Another example: We have learned stem-changing verbs without any intervention of English: I gave them "shoe" verbs conjugated in present tense, then we did some pair activities, exercises, etc. After that I gave them a test and found out that 99% of students could not put the verbs according to the pronoun. They could conjugate a verb by itself but not to use it in a context. Next day I wrote 10 English sentences that contained stem-changing verbs, on the board and asked my students to translate them into Spanish. It was hard for them and we did it together, analyzing all the grammar and using our conjugation tables.After that I gave them another test on those verbs and most of my students received "A" and "B". It showed me that some translation helps to understand grammar. Explaining grammar with the use of students' native language has a few positive aspects: it refreshes their knowledge of their own language; the comparison makes it visual; the understanding of grammar becomes deeper.

Online translators : 

Online translators I taught my students how to use online translators wisely. Some teachers think that using online translators is cheating. Some of the online translators are better than others, but none of them produce a perfect copy of the submitted text in another language. I wanted to show them that an online translator never can substitute a human translator, that some words are mistranslated and that the sentence structure is not always correct! I gave them Spanish lyrics of Marc Anthony's song "Amigo" and asked them to translate it into English using online translators. They had to edit the entire abracadabra that online translator gave them. We had a lot of discussions how to translate better to convey right meaning, so that it would sound good for English-speaking people.Such exercises improve not only their Spanish but also their English. While translating, they learned a lot of new words and structures, realized that literal translation is not the best translation. The most important outcome of this activity was the understanding that online translators cannot be used without thorough editing. They can be great for obscure words or infinitive forms of verbs...but when it comes to syntax or anything complicated, they are awful.

Posters : 

Posters Another thing that I tried is making posters for a yearly contest in South Dakota State University. My students had to choose a topic (can be anything about Spanish language or culture) and create a poster. The posters should not contain any English, only Spanish.I asked my students to find information, translate it and give it to me for proofreading. They could not use neither downloaded Spanish text from Internet or online translators

Techniques of translation : 

Techniques of translation

Pros and Cons of the Grammar-Translation Method : 

Pros and Cons of the Grammar-Translation Method

STAMP : 

STAMP At the end of the year I conducted STAMP test and compared the results of classes where I used grammar-translation method and classes where I used only communicative method of teaching. I found out that the scores of students who used translation during the year were a little higher.

STAMP Results : 

STAMP Results

STAMP RESULTS : 

STAMP RESULTS

Slide 14: 

My research showed me that the translation method is good for beginners who do not yet have the critical level of vocabulary in their target language for expression. However, they might translate simple text from their target to their native language. The effect is not only increased vocabulary, but most important increase confidence. They feel they could actually be translators at a basic level.

Slide 15: 

Although I use the Grammar-translation method in my classroom minimally, I nonetheless find it indispensable to my current teaching situation. I do not believe in any one-size-fits-all bilingual approach. Each school and district has their own culture of learning and interacting that has to be taken into account. The bottom line is: can you show that your students are successful in learning the language? If you can do that, I support whatever your model is.

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