English Language Teaching Through the Translation Method
(A Practical Approach to Teaching Mongolian CPAs)
Teaching English to non-natives is always regarded as a daunting task, to which teaching Mongolian Certified Professional Accountants are no exception. Although Mongolia is largely known for its Gobi desert and age-old Buddhist culture and tradition, in this era of globalization, Mongolians are marching neck and neck to compete with the rest of the world. Recently, ICAI organized a three-month training program for Mongolian Certified Professional Accountants in the field of English Language, Business Communication and International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). During the training sessions, it was observed that Mongolians are very sound in their technical skills but lots of hard work is to be done to improve and hone their English-language skills. Thus, the present paper aims to study issues and challenges pertaining to the translation of courseware from English to Mongolian for Mongolian CPAs.
Key Words: CPA, IFRS, Translation, SL, TL, ELT etc.
Rationale of the Study
Mongolian is the national language of the country of Mongolia where it is spoken by about 2.5 million people. But after the waves of reformation (after 1990), interest for English has grown stupendously. English is penetrating Ulan Bator through the electronic media: bilingual Mongolian Web sites, cell phones with bilingual text messaging, cable television packages with English-language news and movie channels and radio repeaters that broadcast Voice of America and the British Broadcasting Corporation on FM frequencies. As the number of students and users has risen steadily since 1990 to make English the most widely learned language in Mongolia, the issue of English acquisition among the population has become a vital one. As English was rarely studied in Mongolia previously, teachers were virtually non-existent when English began to spread throughout the country after the democratic revolution. Before 1990, the study of English was strictly confined to the select few students in the National University of Mongolia's interpreter class, and qualified teachers of the language numbered less than a dozen .The curriculum standards for English language teaching, which were revised in 2003 and was officially instituted in 2005.
Review of Literature
Translation in ELT
Translation in ELT is vital if we consider it as a means, not as an end. According to Jumpelt (1984), "The twentieth century is the age of translation." David Crystal (1998) also states that translation is "the neutral term used for all tasks where the meaning of expressions in one language -the source language (SL) is turned into the meaning of another, the target language (TL), whether the medium is spoken, written, or signed."
Merits and Limitations of using translation in Teaching of English
According to Howatt (1984, Macau) translation is not as terrible as it appears to be and Duff (1992, Macau) gives reasons for considering translation very advantageous:
Dennis Newson (1998) reveals following limitations:
The Skills that Counts in ELT through Translation
According to Peter Newmark (1981), a teacher is expected to have following skills:
Peter Newmark (1981) highlights following skills:
The Grammar -Translation Method in ELT
According to Prator and Celce-Murcia (1979), the salient features of the Grammar Translation Method are as follows:
Diane Larsen-Freeman (2000) provides some common/typical techniques closely associated with the Grammar Translation Method.
Issues and Challenges in ELT through Translation: A Practical Approach in Teaching Mongolian CPA's
Since English has only recently been introduced in Mongolia, and the education system and country is not yet fully modernized, it may still be quite some time before English becomes as widely used, and the fluency of its population becomes as strong, as is in other nations. Whatever the case may be, one important fact remains for the future generation of Mongolians: English is a must. Teaching of Mongolian CPAs under such critical circumstances is not only interesting but also requires skills for teaching English for specific purposes. To this context, translation of information and knowledge in their Mongolian language appears to be a Hobson's choice. But it is not so easy, as it requires good command over source and target language from a trainer. Ironically, the trainers, in this case, are completely ignorant of the Mongolian language, but proficient in the use of the English Language. So how to initiate the process of translation in the classroom becomes a million dollar question. The work of the translator is not everybody's cup of tea, since the translator has to strike a balance between over- and under-translation. Moreover, one has to make a "deep inner language made outer." During the interaction the trainers face the following main challenges:
1) Mongolian Case Suffixes
The following table displays each case with its equivalent English meaning:
Due to this, Mongolian CPAs face a high level of interference of their basic L1 case structures in their English.
2) Articles and Determiners
The Mongolian language does not contain articles, but rather forms definite and indefinite constructions by using specific numbers, word order, or case endings (Kullman, 1996). Mostly they use the definite article " the " before their names and it is also noticed that they have habit of using article "An" before words like Man, Mobile etc. Mongolian CPAs also have difficulties in using Many, Much, Some, Any etc. For illustration, they use "I have many hairs ", "She has not seen some boys" etc
3) Verb Tenses
It is observed that all the Mongolian participants (CPA's) had difficulty in acquiring the
past perfect and future perfect tenses. These two tenses caused major problems and mistakes than any of the other verb tenses combined. The past and future perfect tenses theoretically exist in Mongolian, but are virtually absent from the colloquial language (Kullman, 1996),
It was also observed that Mongolian CPAs have problems in handling passive voices of Imperative and Interrogative sentences. For example, they are unable to solve and understand "Who broke the chair? /"Do it"/ Please bring a glass of water etc. Some students have difficulty in identifying the tenses.
5) Punctuation Marks
During the training program, it also became evident that the participants have problems in placing punctuation marks correctly. Some of the participants have difficulties in using double inverted comma, hyphen, exclamation point and capital letters. They unnecessarily put the first letter of any new word in capital letter whether it is in the middle or end of any sentence.
Finally, it was decided that out of their elite group whoever possesses average command of the source and target languages should be requested to perform the crucial role of a translator. At this level, the following skills are expected from a translator in the classroom situation:
It has been found that translation is a useful tool to learn grammar, syntax, and lexis in both SL and TL. A word-for-word back-translation enables Mongolian CPAs to highlight and understand the relationship between the two languages.
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Published - April 2010
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