UBC Theses and Dissertations
Translating and writing processes of adult second language learners Uzawa, Kozue
While translation in L2 learning/teaching has been viewed negatively since the 1950s in North America, in the late 1980s a re-evaluation of translation has begun (Duff, 1989). The purpose of this research is to explore text-level translation from the learner’s perspective, as this kind of research, at present, remains quite scarce (Krings, 1987). This study focuses on text-level translation as a useful component of second language (L2) learning/teaching. Adult L2 learners’ translation processes and performance are examined and contrasted with the same group’s Li and L2 writing performance. Twenty-two Japanese ESL students studying at a Canadian college performed three tasks individually (translation from Li into L2, Li writing, L2 writing), thinking aloud. Their writing samples were evaluated, and think-aloud protocols were analyzed, supplemented by interviews and text analyses. The data were analyzed with attention given to four recent cognitive theories of language learning: Cummins’ theories (1986) of cross-linguistic interdependence of cognitive academic skills; Schmidt’s “conscious attention” (1990); Swain’s “i+1 output” hypothesis (1985); and McLaughlin’s “restructuring” (1 990b). Findings: 1) The correlations of the quality of translation, Li writing, and L2 writing of L2 learners (whose Li writing skills are still developing) were not significant. 2) The learners’ conscious attention to language use was high in the translation task, but unexpectedly low in the L2 writing. Their language use was more sophisticated in the translation than in the L2 writing. 3) Some students preferred translation tasks to L2 writing tasks, expressing their views which were consistent with the “i+1 output” hypothesis. 4) Contrary to general expectation about student translations, the students did not translate word for word; they often restructured Li/L2 correspondences, and examples of “restructuring” were not limited to the word level. General conclusions: Cross-linguistic interdependence among translation, Li writing, and L2 writing was not confirmed clearly. However, there was evidence that translation processes prompted conscious attention, “i+1 output”, and restructuring, which some consider to be necessary for second language learning. Thus translation in L2 learning deserves a closer look as it provides potential opportunities for learners to learn a second language.
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