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ISSN 2227-6017 (ONLINE), ISSN 2303-9868 (PRINT), DOI: 10.18454/IRJ.2227-6017
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Drutsko N. A., "TRANSLATION METHOD IN MULTI-LEVEL FOREIGN LANGUAGE TEACHING". Meždunarodnyj naučno-issledovatel’skij žurnal (International Research Journal) № 1 (79) Part 2, (2019): 73. Sun. 24. Mar. 2019.
Drutsko N. A. TRANSLATION METHOD IN MULTI-LEVEL FOREIGN LANGUAGE TEACHING / N. A. Drutsko // Mezhdunarodnyj nauchno-issledovatel'skij zhurnal. — 2019. — № 1 (79) Part 2. — С. 73—77. doi: 10.23670/IRJ.2019.79.1.042




Научная статья

Друцко Н. А. *

Уральский государственный университет путей сообщения, Екатеринбург, Россия

* Корреспондирующий автор (drutsko[at]


Статья посвящена вопросам, связанным с ролью метода перевода и места родного языка при обучении иностранному языку. Рассматриваются особенности применения зарубежных учебно-методических комплексов в условиях многоуровневого подхода к организации обучения иностранному языку. Обосновывается необходимость применения метода перевода при обучении иностранному языку студентов уровня Elementary. В статье обобщается опыт работы преподавателей кафедры иностранных языков по использованию специальных пособий-приложений к аутентичным многоуровневым учебникам.

Ключевые слова: аутентичные курсы, многоуровневый подход, пособия, родной язык (L1), иностранный язык (L2), метод перевода, языковая среда. 


Research article

Drutsko N. A. *

Ural State University of Railway Transport, Ekaterinburg, Russia

* Corresponding author (drutsko[at]


The article discusses issues related to the role of the translation method and the place of the native tongue in foreign language teaching. Described are the specific features of application of the foreign multi-level educational and methodical complexes in the context of multi-level approach. The necessity of using the translation method in elementary students teaching is grounded. The article summarises the experience of applying special manuals – supplements to authentic textbooks worked out by the staff of the foreign language department.

Keywords: authentic courses, multi-level approach, manuals, first language (L1), second language (L2), translation method, language environment.

In the history of the methodology, the role of translation was evaluated differently in different periods of its development: some methodologists called for the complete exclusion of translation from the practice of teaching a foreign language, while others recognized it as one of the main teaching tools.

For most of the 20th century, there was a deep-rooted tradition in the foreign language teaching which dates back to the Direct Method: the usage of the mother tongue in the classroom should be avoided at all costs. With the arrival and then total dominance of communicative techniques translation was quickly consigned to the past. Most ELT methods of the last century were clearly ‘target-language’ only and some specialists went as far as to take a clearly anti-L1 stance in order to avoid interference. [1]

  1. Cook lists the reasons why the first language (L1) was excluded from teaching practice for so many years. These are:

–  L2 acquisition is (erroneously) compared and equated to L1 acquisition

–  An underlying belief that L1 and L2 should be kept separate

–  Students should be given enough exposure to L2. [2]

In recent years, however, translation and the use of L1 in ELT have made a comeback.

The principle of reliance on the native language today is generally accepted and does not cause particular disagreement among methodologists. It is the question of the dosage and the role of translation at different study levels that is debated.

The place of translation in teaching a foreign language is primarily the place of the native tongue. The present stage of development of foreign language education is characterized by the use of foreign educational complexes on a mass scale. Academic programs at higher and secondary educational institutions in Russia are supported by authentic material of such language courses as Oxford, Macmillan and Cambridge. All over the world, these courses are used by teachers for a multilingual audience, where conducting the lesson in the language of any ethnic group would be politically incorrect and practically impossible.

Many specialists associated the emergence of a large number of foreign textbooks in the educational services market in the early 90s in Russia with the possibility of implementing the idea of full immersion into the authentic environment when teaching a foreign language. According to the author, the communicative space in which learning of a non-native language is currently taking place can be described as an artificial language environment, which is created by additional means in the absence of the natural conditions. Within the framework of the university, these are practical classes, participation in international conferences, and the development and implementation of projects in a foreign language. We can mention another kind of language environment, which is less artificial than an academic one. For a student who is motivated to learn the language independently, there is currently a wide arsenal of tools that facilitate the learning process and make it more vivid and attractive. These include participation in social networks, blogging, reading adapted and original literature, discussions, communicating with native speakers, and watching videos on YouTube. We are witnessing the fact that a foreign language, especially English, in the most natural way becomes more and more popular, and this makes the task of the teacher of a foreign language at school and university more responsible. [3]

Since 2012, the Ural State University of Railway Transport (USURT) has been practicing a multi-level approach to the organization of learning a foreign language. The department of foreign languages and intercultural communications has developed a technology based on the principle of taking into account the real level of foreign language proficiency of former high school graduates who have become university students, and their subsequent training in groups of different levels from the Elementary to the Advanced level. The need for a new approach to teaching a foreign language is dictated by life itself: first, recognition of its importance in terms of career growth of a future specialist, and secondly, the desire to create conditions for increasing motivation to study this discipline at a university. The distribution of students into groups was carried out on the basis of the results of computer testing and the interview that followed. Refinement of the actual level of students was also conducted during the first days of the term when students were allowed to move from one group to another at their will.

The aim of the article is to demonstrate the validity and relevance of the translation method in foreign language teaching and summarize the experience of applying academic translation within the framework of multi-level approach.

The staff of the department of foreign languages and intercultural communications of the USURT has accumulated extensive experience in teaching programs supported by multi-level authentic courses. It is known that the majority of foreign textbooks are based on the principle of a communicative approach to learning, designed to stimulate students’ linguistic activity and their communicative readiness to the maximum. Is it possible to achieve these goals without resorting to the translation method and completely eliminating support by the native language in the learning process?

Everything positive that is inherent in authentic textbooks and what made them in demand throughout the world was fully utilized by the creative team of the department. It should be noted, however, that teaching according to programs supported by authentic textbook materials, theoretically precludes the use of the first language (L1) in the learning process and implies “monolingual”, i.e. immanent understanding. This kind of comprehension is going on simultaneously with auditory or visual perception. That, in turn, leads to the complete abandonment of the method of translation as a means of learning. Strictly following the principle of authenticity caused many problems at the first stages of implementation of the multi-level approach. Practice shows that monolingual communication often does not justify its goals and provides a distorted picture of the situation with respect to students’ mastering specific skills. Uninterrupted understanding is the goal to be pursued and realized at the advanced stages of training. Here, the “non-translational” way of learning is of great importance as it contributes significantly to the creation of a microclimate that brings students closer to the natural conditions of using a foreign language. On the other hand, the initial stage of education is characterized by the natural desire of learners to compare various phenomena of the language being studied with the structures of their native tongue. It requires decoding of foreign language material in order to understand it properly.

 The control of mastering the material of a particular lesson testifies that students find it difficult to translate into English the thematic vocabulary of the lesson, and the speech clichés learned by students from the Everyday English section are not recognized when it is necessary to translate them from their native language into a foreign one. Similarly, students “do not see” English grammar in Russian sentences although they quite successfully coped with all the grammatical tasks in the lesson. The teacher does not have the opportunity to regularly control the accuracy of understanding and the degree of mastering the educational material, while any kind of mental activity on the part of the students will always be characterized by the desire to translate everything heard, seen and read into their native language. “Any new foreign word is associated primarily with the word of the native language and only through the word of the native language is transferred to the designated object” [4]. According to Osintseva-Raevskaya Ye. A., it is psychologically dangerous to leave things incorrectly or not fully understood, since this gives rise to a false sense of confidence (or uncertainty) and in the future considerably complicates the learning process [5]. Within the framework of a multi-level system, the level of proficiency in language knowledge and skills is defined quite clearly so that we can speak of a strict delimitation of approaches regarding the use of the native language in the process of learning. In advanced level groups, the discipline is taught taking into account the fact that the language being studied is at the same time a means of communication, and therefore the role of the mother tongue should be minimized. As for the Elementary groups (the occupancy of the 1st level groups always turns out to be higher than that of the 2nd and 3rd level groups combined), here the translation method should take its proper place in the teaching process. In the modern multilingual world, the ability to translate proves to be very useful; it is in demand even at the household level. We are constantly faced with the need to translate various inscriptions, instructions to instruments, menus, and tags on goods. So why, then, asks G. Cook, has the translation method become a “pariah” in the teaching of foreign languages and an “unwelcomed” friend of the teacher? [6]

Preparation for practical classes in foreign language teaching always involves the use of additional resources in the form of grammatical, lexical, and communicative tasks. The result of the search for new forms of work with foreign courses was the creation of study aids, original applications to the textbook, with the goal of making the authentic material of the foreign complexes more accessible and effective.

The first step in this direction was the emergence of a methodological application to the English course Technology 1 (Oxford), representing the generalized and systematized experience of the teachers of the department for several years. [7]. In fact, even before the introduction of multi-level technology, academic programs in foreign languages had as a basis English courses from various international publishers (Technology-1 (Oxford) for technical specialties and Market Leader (Pearson) for humanities and economics faculties). The priority here, of course, was given to the use of foreign language material from authentic textbooks, while it was recognized that it was necessary to create auxiliary resources with the aim of supplementing and activating the basic educational material.  The manual consistently reflects all sections of the original textbook. Its content is not duplicated, but supplemented, where necessary, by a translation into the native language. In addition to the usual vocabulary and grammar exercises, each lesson contains a thematic list of compulsory vocabulary, translated into Russian, as well as the tasks for back translation. Appealing to the translation method as a means of learning is fully justified here, since it fills the gap in the students’ understanding of unfamiliar language phenomena. As M. Ponomareva points out, these stages are natural and necessary in the transition to non-translational understanding [8]. In support of this, she cites P. Hagboldt’s emphatic figurative statement on the topic: “When reading difficult sentences rich in thought, one should not shy away from translation … . Translation is a crutch that you use when you need it and put it away when you can walk without it” [9].

The successful application of this study aid served as the basis for further research related to the theoretical justification of the feasibility of creating such support resources and the development of new manuals.

In the preface to the textbook “English for students of economic specialties” issued by the Department of Foreign Languages and Intercultural Communications of the USURT in 2017 as a supplement to the Market Leader Elementary course, it is emphasized that “the manual does not replace the textbook itself or diminish its significance “[10]. It is designed to adapt the Russian-speaking audience of students to the perception of the authentic material of the textbook.

It should be noted that educational translation is not a practical goal of learning a foreign language. This is not some kind of additional skill. This productive task should be integrated with other types of language activities: speaking, listening, reading and writing. According to K. Sheffner’s definition, educational translation is “the reproduction of the message of the original text with special attention to various linguistic structures” [11]. The format of authentic teaching materials presents all the tasks designed for practicing the listed skills and abilities in the target language, whereas the inclusion of the mother tongue in the learning process involves the development of bilingual learning activities. The translation vector (in the method of distinguishing between direct and back translation) is important, since translation from a foreign language into one’s mother tongue and from one’s mother tongue to a foreign one is associated with different types of learning activities and different approaches. When developing teaching aids for authentic courses, preference was given to using bilingual tasks for back translation. All aspects of the educational material of the lesson of the original course (lexical units, grammatical models, speech patterns) are presented in the Revision section in L1, an indicator of the degree of mastery of the material being the correctness of the translation into L2. Back translation acts here as an effective means of feedback not only for the teacher, but also for the student, since this type of exercise highlights all the problematic points in students’ skills or knowledge. This activity is highly rewarding because by translating learners feel that they have some control in language learning.

Speaking about the role and place of bilingual exercises in ELT, Ya. B. Emelyanova indicates three levels of translation: phrase, sentence and text [12]. In the Revision section of the Market Leader course supplement, all three levels of translation are made use of. For example, in the framework of authentic topic “Travel” (Market Leader, unit 4) oral translation practice in the course supplement (Unit 4, ex. 9, 10, 11) covers vocabulary, grammar and conversation.

Performing back translation activity students are supposed to:

  1. self-check the active vocabulary of the unit:

Ex. 9. Translate into English.

заказать номер в гостинице, заказать билет на самолет, заказать билет в оба конца, заказать путевку, одноместный номер, двухместный номер, прибыть в Москву, прибыть в аэропорт, останавливаться в отеле, ручная кладь, садиться в самолет, рейс задерживается, уезжать, проходить досмотр

  1. recognize English grammatical structure “there is/are” in the Russian sentences.

Ex. 10. Translate into English.

  1. Сегодня есть прямой рейс до Москвы?
  2. Сколько страниц в вашем отчете?
  3. Поблизости имеется стоянка такси?
  4. В номере есть сейф?
  5. Сколько человек в вашей группе?
  6. Сколько денег на вашем счете?
  7. В отеле есть конференц зал?
  8. show fluency in using “survival English” vocabulary.

Ex. 11. Translate into English.

  1. Когда прибывает рейс?
  2. Как часто Вам приходится ездить в командировки?
  3. Чем я могу Вам помочь?
  4. Какой номер Вы желаете: одноместный или двухместный?
  5. Могу я заказать билет на рейс до Москвы на завтра?
  6. Сколько стоит номер в сутки?
  7. Вы не могли бы разбудить меня в 4 утра?
  8. Можно мне проверить время прибытия рейса?

The method of back translation is also used at the text level. The basis of the task can be a checked grammatical exercise, representing a coherent text, or a script for listening exercises. In the process of pair work, students are invited to be “translators”. In this case, partners use both direct and back translation.

Simple tasks for direct-back translation save the lesson time, give the student the opportunity to draw parallels in two languages and abandon literal translation. Providing equivalents in the native language provides quick access to the meaning of foreign words.

In real life, any act of listening always entails various types of communication. Listening, speaking, reading and writing are interrelated and interdependent [13]. The material presented in authentic textbooks for listening purposes is not adapted even for the Elementary level. Translation can be of significant value to the development of the listening skills as well.  The authentic listening exercises of the main course are designed to teach students to grasp the basic idea of what they have heard and to obtain the necessary information without having to understand each word. To ease the complexity of perception of authentic material, the following tasks can be practiced:

  • the learners are invited to give the gist in L1 of what they heard either orally or in writing
  • students are given tape scripts and asked to do direct and back translation
  • students act as simultaneous interpreters

Thus, translation can be looked upon as the resource designed to improve students’ listening skills.

Translation can be considered a positive pedagogical tool not only in teaching L2 but also in backing up students’ L1 awareness. According to Thornbury, S. “Using L1 translation gives value and importance to learners’ L1 culture and experience and allows students to express their identity”. [14]

In conclusion, it should be noted that reliance on authentic material from modern foreign teaching materials, representing advanced international experience in the field of teaching a foreign language, does not preclude the creative use of the translation method. Competent inclusion of the native language in the learning process, the development of a system of bilingual tasks and their application in practice meet the most challenging objectives of foreign language education.

Конфликт интересов

Не указан.

Conflict of Interest

None declared.

Список литературы / References

  1. Selivan L. The return of translation: opportunities and pitfalls [Электронный ресурс] / L. Selivan // October, 1, 2015. URL: (дата обращения: 11.11.2018).
  2. Cook V. Using the First Language in the Classroom / V. Cook // Canadian Modern Language Review. — 2001. — 57(3). — P. 402—423.
  3. Друцко Н. А. Место перевода в обучении иностранному языку в рамках многоуровневого подхода к процессу обучения [Электронный ресурс] / Н. А. Друцко // Современные научные исследования и инновации. — 2017. —№ 1. — URL: (дата обращения: 11.11.2018).
  4. Любанец И. И., Шило Е. В. Место перевода в обучении иностранному языку / И. И. Любанец, Е. В. Шило // Барановичский университет. Сборник «Актуальные вопросы переводоведения и практики перевода». — 2015. — Выпуск 5. — Н. Новгород: Бюро переводов «Альба», 2015. — С. 148—153.
  5. Осинцева-Раевская Е. А. Роль и место родного языка при изучении русского языка как иностранного / Е. А. Осинцева-Раевская // Журнал «Вестник Балтийского федерального университета им. И. Канта». — 2014. — № 5. — С. 96—102.
  6. Cook G. Translation in language teaching: an argument for reassessment / G. Cook. — Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010. — 177 p.
  7. Английский технический язык : метод. указания к изучению учебника по английскому языку «Technology—1» / Ваулина Л. Р., Друцко Н.А., Егармина И. М. и др. — Екатеринбург : УрГУПС, 2010. — 44 с.
  8. Пономарева М. С. Роль учебного перевода в системе обучения иностранным языкам [Электронный ресурс] / М. С. Пономарева. URL: (дата обращения: 11.11.2018).
  9. Hagboldt P. How to learn a foreign language / P. Hagboldt. — Foreign languages at school. — 1964. — №4. — P. 28
  10. Анашкина А. Ю. Английский язык для студентов экономических специальностей / Учебно-методическое пособие для студентов 1 курса факультета экономики и управления всех направлений подготовки. — Екатеринбург. — 2017. —54 с.
  11. Schaffner C. Qualification for Professional Translators / С. Schaffner // Translation and Language Teaching, Language Teaching and Translation. — Manchester: St. Jerome, 1998. — Р. 86—92
  12. Емельянова Я. Б. Роль и место двуязычных упражнений в процессе иноязычной подготовки переводчиков / Я. Б. Емельянова // Вестник ВГУ. Серия: Лингвистика и межкультурная коммуникация. — 2016. — № 3. — С. 78
  13. Лопатин М. А. Развитие навыков эффективного аудирования у студентов неязыкового вуза с помощью аутентичных материалов / М. А. Лопатин // Научно-методический электронный журнал «Концепт». — 2017. — № 11. — С. 48
  14. Thornbury S. G is for Grammar Translation. An A to Z of ELT [Электронный ресурс] / S. Thornbury // URL: (дата обращения: 11.11.2018).

Список литературы на английском языке / References in English

  1. Selivan L. The return of translation: opportunities and pitfalls [Электронный ресурс] / L. Selivan // October, 1, 2015. URL: (accessed: 11.11.2018).
  2. Cook V. Using the First Language in the Classroom / V. Cook // Canadian Modern Language Review. — 2001. — 57(3). — P. 402—423.
  3. Drutsko N. А. Mesto perevoda v obuchenii inostrannomu yazyku v ramkakh mnogourovnevogo podkhoda k protsessu obucheniya [Place of Translation in Foreign Language Teaching as Part of a Multi-level Approach to the Learning Process] [Electronic resource] / N. A. Drutsko // Sovremennyye nauchnyye issledovaniya i innovatsii [Modern scientific research and innovation]. – 2017. – No. 1. – URL: (accessed: 11.11.2018). [In Russian]
  4. Lyubanets I. I., Shilo E. V. Mesto perevoda v obuchenii inostrannomu yazyku [Place of Translation in Foreign Language Teaching] / I. I. Lyubanets, E. V. Shilo // Baranovichskiy universitet. Sbornik «Aktual’nyye voprosy perevodovedeniya i praktiki perevoda» [Baranovichi University. The collection “Actual issues of translation and translation practices.”] – 2015. – Is. 5. – N. Novgorod: Alba Translation Bureau, 2015. – P. 148-153. [In Russian]
  5. Osintseva-Raevskaya E. A. Rol’ i mesto rodnogo yazyka pri izuchenii russkogo yazyka kak inostrannogo [Role and Place of Native Language in Study of Russian as a Foreign Language] / E. A. Osintseva-Raevskaya // Zhurnal «Vestnik Baltiyskogo federal’nogo universiteta im. I. Kanta» [Bulletin of Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University] – 2014. – No. 5. – P. 96-102. [In Russian]
  6. Cook G. Translation in language teaching: an argument for reassessment / G. Cook. — Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010. — 177 p.
  7. Angliyskiy tekhnicheskiy yazyk : metod. ukazaniya k izucheniyu uchebnika po angliyskomu yazyku «Technology—1» [Technical English: method. instructions for studying the English textbook “Technology — 1”] / Vaulina L. R., Drutsko N. A., Egarmina I. M., et al. – Yekaterinburg: USUPS, 2010. – 44 p. [In Russian]
  8. Ponomareva M.S. Rol’ uchebnogo perevoda v sisteme obucheniya inostrannym yazykam [Role of Academic Translation in Foreign Languages Teaching System] [Electronic resource] / M.S. Ponomareva. URL: (accessed: 11.11.2018). [In Russian]
  9. Hagboldt P. How to learn a foreign language / P. Hagboldt. — Foreign languages at school. — 1964. — №4. — P. 28
  10. Anashkina A. Yu. Angliyskiy yazyk dlya studentov ekonomicheskikh spetsial’nostey / Uchebno-metodicheskoye posobiye dlya studentov 1 kursa fakul’teta ekonomiki i upravleniya vsekh napravleniy podgotovki [English for Students of Economic Specialties / Study Guide for First-year Students of the Faculty of Economics and Management of All Areas of Training]. – Yekaterinburg. – 2017. – 54 p. [In Russian]
  11. Schaffner C. Qualification for Professional Translators / С. Schaffner // Translation and Language Teaching, Language Teaching and Translation. — Manchester: St. Jerome, 1998. — Р. 86—92
  12. Yemelyanova Ya. B. Rol’ i mesto dvuyazychnykh uprazhneniy v protsesse inoyazychnoy podgotovki perevodchikov [Role and Place of Bilingual Exercises in Foreign Language Training Process of Translators] / Ya. B. Emelyanova // Vestnik VGU. Seriya: Lingvistika i mezhkul’turnaya kommunikatsiya [VSU Bulletin. Series: Linguistics and Intercultural Communication]. – 2016. – No. 3. – P. 78 [In Russian]
  13. Lopatin M. A. Razvitiye navykov effektivnogo audirovaniya u studentov neyazykovogo vuza s pomoshch’yu autentichnykh materialov [Development of Skills for Effective Listening in Students of a Non-linguistic University using Authentic Materials] / M. A. Lopatin // Nauchno-metodicheskiy elektronnyy zhurnal «Kontsept» [Scientific and methodical electronic journal “Concept”] – 2017. – No. 11. – P. 48 [In Russian]
  14. Thornbury S. G is for Grammar Translation. An A to Z of ELT [Электронный ресурс] / S. Thornbury // URL: (accessed: 11.11. 2018).


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