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Is actively translating bad for learning?

 

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  #1  
Old July 09, 2014, 09:01 AM
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Is actively translating bad for learning?

What I mean by that is, translating a foreign language that you're learning into your native language while you're learning (or vice versa).

Because I am learning Spanish, and sometimes find myself thinking the words in English, then translating them to Spanish in my head. Is this a bad habit if I want to become completely fluent?
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  #2  
Old July 09, 2014, 10:23 AM
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I find myself doing that sometimes as well. I will be reading the Spanish words and saying the English words in my head. I realize when I'm doing it and have to make an effort not to.

My intuition tells me it will impede my learning, but I don't know if it actually does. Hopefully someone else can enlighten us.
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Old July 09, 2014, 11:26 AM
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You will find here fiercely opposed views on this matter. I firmly believe that translating to your own language hinders your fluency in the foreign language, and sometimes even your grammar in your native one. Most of the native Spanish-speaking people I know, who translate from English, sometimes "innovate" Spanish to the point that monolinguals can't actually follow what they're saying and they also introduce calques of Spanish constructions when speaking English, so foreignters can't follow them either. Personally, I've found that the more I translate, the less I learn. My advice is to avoid translating as much as possible, so thinking in the foreign language can be achieved more quickly.


Now this is why:

In my training as a language teacher, I have been taught to do anything to make students understand and learn without ever going through their own language. When I thought I could always resort to English, I was faced to a group of monolingual Korean students. I couldn't even know if their dictionaries were any good, so I had to make my best efforts to make all pieces of language very understandable in context. (I think I succeeded.)

Now, in my much longer experience as a language learner, it was when I had the most fanatic teachers of non-translation that I learnt the most. Whenever I would ask for the meaning of a word or expression I was never offered a translation to my own language, I was never allowed to use the bilingual dictionary (except sometimes to find a translation from Spanish to the foreign language), and I never heard the teachers talk to me in Spanish.
This was also my toughest course and I felt frustrated in the beginning, as I was very anxious that I couldn't understand most of what was said. However, once I started to grasp general ideas and could finally utter correct sentences, confidence grew and I adopted the method for the next language courses. It certainly took me many extra hours to follow the path from word to word to word (yet to another word) in the monolingual foreign dictionary, and it decidedly took me plenty of effort turning to repetition, copying styles, re-writing paragraphs, paraphrasing conversations, until I got used to a certain rhythm and usage of words, but it has been so worth it!
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Old July 09, 2014, 11:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AngelicaDeAlquezar View Post
I firmly believe that translating to your own language hinders your fluency in the foreign language, and sometimes even your grammar in your native one.
I agree.
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Old July 09, 2014, 12:38 PM
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I do not agree with Angelica or Premium.

If you translate to your native language, to begin with, it is the only way you can understand what's being said in another language.

When you submit to transcribe (copy) and then translate to your native language, you are not only understanding what's being said in your language, but also how it has to be written/said in the other. Your brain picks up those instances and pretty soon your are getting your fluency. Especially if you couple it by reading out loud a paragraph/page and then listening to what was recorded, then repeating till you detect you have softened the part you hear yourself pronouncing in a bad way.

It is all very simple, and all these takes you to fluency.
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Old July 09, 2014, 06:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chileno View Post
If you translate to your native language, to begin with, it is the only way you can understand what's being said in another language.
The key words here are "to begin with," and it's a true statement. As soon as possible however, I'd follow Angélica's advice. Good Luck!
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Old July 10, 2014, 11:53 AM
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Quote:
The key words here are "to begin with," and it's a true statement. As soon as possible however, I'd follow Angélica's advice. Good Luck!
You can do that, however, if you continue the whole as I prescribe, you will arrive to a time in which you acknowledge consciously that you know. What's more, you will write stuff and people question why you wrote like that. You answer will be, most likely that you don't know but that it is correctly written.

Then, you can try learning the grammar of that language.
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Old July 10, 2014, 06:18 PM
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Spanish is clearly I am not nearly as good at it as I am with English. I use Spanish daily. Sometimes when I have to communicate something complicated in Spanish, my thoughts go to English. I try to sort it out and translate it to Spanish. I think when I had less knowledge, I did this a lot more. If you are familiar with Spanish sentence structure and vocabulary, you will soon get out of this translation mode, and speak the language directly without thinking in English. It' s easier, and more efficient that way.

When I translate between an English speaker and a Spanish speaker, my mind is in constant translation mode. It can be an exhausting thing to do especially if when Spanish is the lingua franca Portuguese or Italian speakers.
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Old July 11, 2014, 09:01 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by poli View Post
Spanish is clearly I am not nearly as good at it as I am with English. I use Spanish daily. Sometimes when I have to communicate something complicated in Spanish, my thoughts go to English. I try to sort it out and translate it to Spanish. I think when I had less knowledge, I did this a lot more. If you are familiar with Spanish sentence structure and vocabulary, you will soon get out of this translation mode, and speak the language directly without thinking in English. It' s easier, and more efficient that way.

When I translate between an English speaker and a Spanish speaker, my mind is in constant translation mode. It can be an exhausting thing to do especially if when Spanish is the lingua franca Portuguese or Italian speakers.
Correct. it is exhausting to do that all the time. That tells me you are not fluent in the Spanish language.

My system will take you to fluency.
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Old July 11, 2014, 12:51 PM
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That depends on you definition of fluency. If fluent means speaking in a natural generally unhesitant flow, then I am fluent, but I don't pretend to have mastered Spanish to the same extent as my native language.
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