Why is translating nearly impossible when learning another language?
It is the never-ending story in the class… and what does that mean? and I take a huge effort imitating the word concept, drawing on the board, making funny noises and all that, just to see my students translating the word into their own language.
Do you think I would take so much effort for nothing?
Unless not translating were strictly necessary, I wouldn’t put so much effort in it. But my students take the translating path despite my clear instructions.
Translating is the best way to feel secure in the class, to make our Dormant Giant feel thinking in the language we’re learning is not important, and therefore the best way to waste our time.
The tool boxes
When you’re mending a bicycle and you have a tool box with you, it doesn’t matter how many miracle tools you’ve seen on the telly, the only thing that matters are the tools you have in your tool box, as those are the only ones you can use.
Imagine languages are tool boxes full or resources. The more tools you have, the better it is. But you must take into consideration a very clear concept we sometimes forget.
Your mother language tool box is much bigger than your second language tool box.
Obvious, isn’t it? So the most probable thing to happen when you translate is that you bring out a tool from your language tool box you don’t have in your second language tool box. The next thing is that feeling you don’t know how to continue.
Only one tool box at a time
That’s why I strongly recommend that only ONE tool kit is used. Take the tool box and start work!
You have what you have, and that’s just fine isn’t it? use it properly, use it to the most… but don’t try to connect with another language’s tool kit as they won’t ever match.