NOTES IN METHODOLOGY-3

An important aspect of learning/teaching a foreign language is enlarging the learner’s active vocabulary. It may be done by using parallel translations. In my student years there were not so many texts with translated versions. At that time I translated foreign texts into Ukrainian and after a couple of days I took the translation which I had done earlier and translated it back into the source language (the so-called “back translation”) comparing my newly made variant with the original one. At present you may find lots of texts which have their equivalents in the target language. My advice is to always have in mind this method of mastering a foreign language and to store up texts with parallel variants as chances occur to come across them on the Internet, newspapers or magazines, or if you see literary works (also by classical writers) translated into another language. For example, my today’s acquisition, which I have already saved to my file “Parallel Translations” is the article by Alexander Motyl: the original version of which was published at the address http://www.worldaffairsjournal.org/blog/alexander-j-motyl/are-regionnaires-schoolchildren and the Ukrainian translation is on the site of Radio Liberty: http://www.radiosvoboda.org/content/article/24387917.html

The contents of the parallel texts is important too. While fiction is good for self-study, and longer article from the media (like the above article by A.Motyl) may be recommended for advanced learners, nothing can beat short trivia of the type “slightly off-center.” Even if you don’t have their “official” translations, pieces of information are usually so short that a teacher can in no time translate them and offer the two versions to students for classroom training. Students may work in pairs checking each other’s interpretations against the professional translations they have in their hands. The final stage of the work in pairs may be individual presentations (on the part of the students) of the news they have just interpreted – with a special emphasis on the words and phrases to be activated.

Incidentally, if the original and translated versions are intermingled in one workbook, the workbook may be photocopied and clippings, which match each other, may be easily prepared from the photocopies by using a stapler and scissors.

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