Avoiding the Use of Translations in Your Language Studies

Thought I’d share a method that I learnt about in my Polish university unit ~

Each lecture in the textbook is almost entirely in Polish, with only the questions, grammar notes and vocabulary lists in English. The meanings are explained in the accompanying audio files, but the lecturer discourages us from writing the translations underneath for a couple of reasons –

If you write the translations underneath the text or pictures you won’t be able to reuse them for genuine practice, as the translations are already are written, you won’t recall them. Recalling is a great way of learning, so maximise your opportunities to recall by avoiding noting down English translations.

Also, you might begin to get in the habit of translating in your head,  so when someone asks “먹었어요?” you remember the base verb 먹다 means in English to eat and it’s in the past tense, so it must mean “Have you eaten?”. This whole internal translation process isn’t a particularly good way of learning and it takes time. By avoiding it, ideally you’ll instead assume 먹다 with the act of eating rather than the direct English translation. It’s also good since not all words and phrases have a direct translation in English, or the same meaning.

Additionally, romanizations should be avoided as you might confuse the romanization with the correct spelling or may incorrectly assume there are links between you mother tongue and the language you are learning, which is not always the case. Again, romanization doesn’t always reflect the true pronunciation accurately, as some sounds or tones don’t exist in English.

For more about not using translations in you language studies, check out Tower of Babelfishes post about it ^-^


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