Journal article

Reconceptualising translation as intercultural mediation: a renewed place in language learning

28 Aug 2015

Since the 1970s translation has been discredited in languages teaching and learning. Nevertheless, it can be seen as a natural phenomenon in many domains of contemporary, globalised life. Furthermore, learners themselves have not ceased to use translation as a strategy in the process of language learning. They necessarily use their primary language as the basis for understanding and using an additional language or to use and understand their primary language in contexts in which it is a minority language. This process can be likened to the task of translators as they seek to establish a relationship with another language and culture. In this paper I discuss translation as an act of intercultural mediation. Translation in language learning is presented in two senses: as a valuable intercultural activity in itself, and as fundamental to the act of language learning. I then discuss the way in which translation has been included in the development of the new (national) Australian curriculum for languages and the contestation that has emerged in relation to its inclusion. I argue that it is a reconceptualisation of translation as intercultural mediation that permits its value in language learning to be fully realised.

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