Publication Date


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT)

First Advisor

Alvino Fantini


This paper is presented in two sections. The purpose of Part One is to explore the nature and role of translation in communication, and to dispell the narrow conception of it as a mechanical process of "synonym finding." Toward a deeper understanding of translation, the first part provides theoretical background on the hypothesis of "linguistic relativity"—the claim that each language uniquely shapes the thinking habits of its speakers to the extent that no culture can be faithfully mirrored by a different language. An example of poetic translation from Spanish into English is then presented to explore the truth of this hypothesis. In light of the contrastive analysis of these poems and the theories discussed, translation is redefined as a pivotal, interpretive process at work within every act of communication (interpersonal or intercultural)--a process which is necessarily creative since it hinges, at least partly, on individual imagination.

The purpose of Part Two is to reconsider the place and value of translation in language learning. This section starts out by proposing a language-teaching approach for use in a multicultural setting with adult learners, aimed at promoting intercultural communication. Within this approach, translation promises to be a useful tool for cultural exchange as well as for the development of critical thinking, sensitivity to language, and creativity. This discussion is followed by an overview of current uses (and misuses) of translation in language learning, and a list of eight crucial (often neglected) ways in which translation can be valuable to language learners. Finally, a series of controlled exercises in interlingual and intralingual translation are described in some detail for use in the classroom.

In the concluding remarks, an analogy is drawn between the process of translation and the dynamics of creative learning.


Bilingual, Multilingual, and Multicultural Education | Curriculum and Instruction | Education