Language Learning By The Double Translation Method

Double translation is a method explained by Roger Ascham, a Renaissance humanist who was the teacher of Princess Elizabeth (later Queen Elizabeth I), who was herself an accomplished linguist, in his treatise The Scholemaster (1570). . He derives the method from Cicero and recommends it as a method that quickly leads to “true word choice and word order, correct sentence order, easy understanding of speech, an ability to speak, an ability to write, a true judgment both of one’s own and of about the actions of other people, whatever language he uses.”

This is quite a dramatic promise for any language learner, and I have found this method to produce amazing results when practiced consistently and diligently.

The method assumes that you have a competent teacher, but can also be used for self-study with some adaptation.

  1. The teacher explains the passage to be translated, giving the background and purpose, pointing out stylistic peculiarities and carefully explaining any new vocabulary or grammatical structures;
  2. The student then translates it into English to the best of their knowledge and gives it to the teacher to correct – this could be done in class to reduce the burden on busy teachers;
  3. The next day the student takes his corrected English translation and converts it back to the original language and then compares it with the original he started from.

With regular practice, this method will draw students’ attention to details of structure and phrase, and they will develop excellent style. It can also be used to translate between languages ​​you know or are learning, allowing the student to develop a keen ear for and start thinking in the individual cadences of each language, rather than translating everything into English first.

It’s useful for language learners of all levels, as you can choose material for translation from anything, although you want to make sure it’s well-styled.

Thanks to Sarah Hoplite | #Language #Learning #Double #Translation #Method

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