Why Translation Activities Are Still Crucial

I’m listening to a section of Latin 1 students translate out loud to their partner, going back and forth every sentence or so (Volleyball Translation). Sure, most of class time involves purposeful interaction comprised of meaningful input. As the language expert, I provide most of those messages, asking questions to engage students in thought, as well as genuinely learn something about everyone in the room. And of course, students spend a LOT of time reading.

However, students need an opportunity to interact with each other well beyond all that input to laugh, connect, or maybe commiserate about teenage things. For beginning language students, that’s going to be in English. Hence, the unlikely activity in comprehension-based and communicative language teaching (CCLT): translation…

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Silent Volleyball Reading (3rd hour of Latin)

For me, paired translation activities a) are not speaking activities, and b) have a purpose similar to what Justin Slocum Bailey juuuust wrote about Choral Translation, with confidence building as the primary one. This is week 3 of school, which is also the 3rd hour my students have listened to and read (i.e. received input) in Latin.

Today, I used a new update to the classic ABBA paired translation activity I’ve always known as Volleyball Translation (i.e. the role is tossed back and forth like a volleyball “pass”). This comes from Jason Fritze at NTPRS, and I used it with the following text based on events of last week’s class, which includes:

  • Something funny that happened on that day, specific to each class
  • Details from an Either/Or TPR activity
    • sī tibi placet X, surge, et consīde Pompēiīs (i.e. Pompēiī = right side group)
    • sī tibi placet Y, surge, et consīde Rōmae (i.e. Rōma = left side group).

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