半音階專區

翻譯與英文教學 [2010/12/1]
Prof. Christian Nord的演講會上,有位師大譯研所的教授問Nord教授,是否贊成以「翻譯」做為語文教學的方法。Nord 教授持反對意見,其中一個理由認為翻譯的技巧頗複雜(牽涉到所謂的「風格對稱」問題),在學生的語文基礎還未穩定之前,教這些無益於學生的語文程度。

這一提問也讓我開始思考起這個問題。自己也不禁問自己,翻譯有否幫助我學習語文?

然而即使是自問,答案仍然不容易發現,因為我並沒一開始學語文就有學翻譯-----我們那一時代的語文學習全部以測驗題為導向,沒有翻譯,更不要說作文了。我開始翻譯是在已經在商場上自行練習寫作多年之後,所以我實在不知道我若是從一開始學英文就有兼學翻譯,我的英文是否會有較快的進步。不過有一點我可以確定的是,我頗遺憾當年學校沒能有系統的教翻譯(※我雖在大三那年去上過何欣的「翻譯寫作」,但老實說,完全沒學到什麼,至今除了他上課講的一句話以外,也記不起他曾經教過什麼值得學的東東------當年選他的課純粹就因為在聯合報副刊中看過他的名字),以致日後每當有人問我「中文這句話英文要怎麼講」時(而這卻是時常發生的事),很少能立即找到答案。

所以我在經過一番反覆思索之後,得出一個結論:翻譯根本就應該列為語文學習的目標之一,不管它是否會有益於你學習外國語文;退一萬步說,就算翻譯法有害於你學習外語,你還是得學翻譯,因為你學外語的目的之一就是為了要三不五時碰到有翻譯需要時,能夠應付。

而翻譯真的對學習外語沒幫助嗎?我思索了一番自己這十幾年來的語文學習及與同行「切磋」的經驗,覺得,就外語閱讀理解而言,翻譯是最完全、也是可信度最高的檢驗------一篇外文文章你有沒有完全讀懂,透過翻譯完全無所遁形,任何考試技巧都無法幫你遮掩你的盲點。而就外語寫作而言,以「母語外譯」方式學習,會有助於你「確實掌握」龐大的外語辭彙,也就是說當你要用到它們時,將能更快速的召喚它們前來,有如繫岸之舟,繩子一拉船就靠過來,而不需(像我們目前所使用的外語學習法在學寫作時一般的要)到茫茫的大海上去尋找它們。

我這種看法一方面固然也是基於自己的學習體驗,一方面也是受到以前讀過的一小篇研究的影響。這篇研究說,從小同時學習雙語的人,兩種語言都儲存在大腦的同一區塊,而母語與外語分開學習的人,尤其是年紀較大之後才學的,兩種語言則分別儲存在大腦的不同區塊,以是前者在兩種語言間轉換來去要比後者快而自如得多。所以我想,倘使我們在一開始教英語的時候,即同時也教導翻譯,應該也會具有跟從小同時學習雙語的人一樣(或至少是相近)的學習成效才是。

過去的一些主張外語應由native speakers來教的理論,在我看來,有許多應該是基於「本位(利益)主義(或心態)」所架構的。可想而知,那些不能聽說讀寫我們本國語言的老外要你繳學費給他們,自然得跟你這樣講。而也正因為他們不能聽說讀寫我們的本國語言,他們在給我們做閱讀和聽力測驗時,必須拐彎抹角問一大堆有的沒有的問題-------而這些問題問得再多都遠不如要你直截了當翻譯來得有效,以是當我們要求那些G考、托福、雅思考過高分的考生翻譯一小篇文章時,常會發現他們不只翻得不通,而且錯誤理解非常之多。

所以,將(雙向)翻譯大幅融進我們的英語教學過程中,應是我們未來所應做的事。而且,我這幾年的一些生活經驗(特別是坐火車時)也讓我了解到翻譯也是一件可以幫忙促進中文進化和淨化的事。當我在思索「為了本車廂安寧,請(各位旅客)小聲談話」英文應該如何翻譯時(※鐵路局的翻譯:For the tranquility of the coach, please speak in a low voice…),我也突然了解到,我們也有太多(就文化而言)非常可笑的中文,呵呵…

我上網找了一下外國的資料,果然不出所料,吾道不孤,國外也有相近似的研究看法。BBC的一個網頁上有如下一篇文章,我把它大致節取如下:

關於反對以翻譯做為語文教學方法的意見,作者如下寫:

Objections to using translation

We can consider possible problems with using translation by looking at possible negative impact on learners and then on teachers. Under each heading we can consider some of the concerns expressed.

Learners

Translation teaches learners about language, but not how to use it. Translation does not help learners develop their communication skills.

Translation encourages learners to use L1, often for long periods of class time, when the aim of modern teaching is to remove it from the classroom.

The skills involved in translation may not be suitable for all kinds of learners. It may, for example, be best for learners who are more analytical or have preferences for verbal-linguistic learning strategies. It may not be suitable either for young learners or lower levels.

Learners may not see the value of translation as an activity to help them learn English, and instead see it as a specialised, and difficult, activity.

Translation is a difficult skill which must be done well in order to be productive and rewarding. Learners and teachers not only have to take into account meaning but also a range of other issues, including form, register, style, and idiom. This is not easy, but too many translation activities rely on it being done well.

Teachers

Translation activities are tricky to set up and take a lot of preparation, especially anticipating possible problems.

Translation requires a motivated class.

The teacher needs to have a sophisticated knowledge of the L1 and the L1 culture. Without this translation can create more problems than benefits. This level of awareness is almost impossible in a multi-lingual class.

Following on from this, if a teacher uses L1 in a translation activity then this can undermine their work to maintain an English-speaking environment in the class. Learners inevitably see them as an L1 resource.

Translation is by definition text-bound, and confined to the two skills of reading and writing. This makes it hard to justify for many classes with time restrictions.

Translation is time-consuming and difficult but the teacher must be as good as and better than the learners at it, to be able to manage the activity well.

關於主張以翻譯做為語文教學方法的意見,作者如下寫:

Benefits

Many ELT teachers and theorists now see the validity and value of translation as an activity in communicative classrooms (although few coursebook writers offer ideas and materials for this area). Below are some of the ways translations can have a positive impact; many of these also serve as responses to the objections and criticisms expressed above:

Designed well, translation activities in the classroom can practise the 4 skills and the 4 systems. In terms of communicative competence, they require accuracy, clarity and flexibility. Duff: it ‘trains the reader to search (flexibility) for the most appropriate words (accuracy) to convey what is meant (clarity)'.

Following on from this, translation is by its nature a highly communicative activity; the challenge is to make sure that the content being communicated is relevant and that we exploit all possibilities for communication during the activity.

Translation in groups can encourage learners to discuss the meaning and use of language at the deepest possible levels as they work through the process of understanding and then looking for equivalents in another language.

Translation is a real-life, natural activity and increasingly necessary in a global environment. Many learners living in either their own countries or a new one need to translate language on a daily basis, both informally and formally. This is even more important with the growing importance of online information.

Whether we encourage it or not, translation is a frequently used strategy for learners; if we accept this, we need to support them in developing this skill in the right way, e.g. by discussing its role.

Translation can be a support for the writing process, especially at lower levels. Research has shown that learners seem able to access more information in their own L1, which they can then translate.

Discussion of differences and similarities during the translation process helps learners understand the interaction of the two languages and the problems caused by their L1. It also helps learners appreciate the strengths and weaknesses of the L1 and L2, for example in the comparison of idiomatic language such as metaphors.

Teachers can focus translation activities on highly specific learning aims, such as practice of certain vocabulary, grammar points, styles and registers, etc. It also lends itself well to work with other tools such as e-mail and class web pages.

Finally, for many learners developing skills in translation is a natural and logical part of reaching higher levels, and being able to do this well is highly motivating.

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