Dr Julie Choi and Ms Kailin Liu presented a session on 24 March entitled: Enacting translation and translanguaging collaboratively between teachers and learners for knowledge building. In this session they prompted us to consider translation and translanguaging as a collaboration and explained that this can take place on a number of levels. Talking about it in relation to learning, we were shown texts in which there were examples of a number of translation strategies used by learners. One was a reading text, where students had not only written words they had translated in the margins, but had also made notes about their translations of larger concepts that appeared within the texts. They also showed us a student notebook explaining that these kinds of texts are intricate spaces where we can observe students and the ways they use translation. They demonstrated that translation isn’t simply a case of converting a word or phrase from Language Code A to Language Code B but is a more complex process involving moving back and forth between languages to find the best fit for meaning. As I understood, this is where translation engages with translanguaging whereby learners and other plurilinguals bring to the fore their knowledge of all languages, or their combined language repertoire, in order to make meaning.
The presenters emphasised the value of collaborative dialogue in which speakers “[engage] in problem solving and knowledge building” (Swain, 2000) involving negotiation of meaning and knowledge building. They then shared with us their own experiences of collaborative dialogue that they themselves had engaged in as part of exploring a language translation issue related to the word “besides” – a vocabulary item in English often inappropriately used by students in their writing.
The session was highly engaging and informative and offered many practical ideas for teachers for working collaboratively with language learners to explore and develop skills in translation and translanguaging. Thank you Julie and Kailin!