Translation as meaning constructor for new words in the multimodal communication of foreign language classrooms

Eva Ingerpuu-Rümmel
2018 Eesti Rakenduslingvistika Ühingu Aastaraamat  
In the past twenty years, there has been growing interest in the role of translation in foreign language teaching. At the same time, throughout the world, language teaching is dominated by the communicative approach, which prefers to avoid translation during language classes. This means that when an unknown word appears, the teacher and students attempt to construct its meaning with the assistance of the foreign language only. Interaction in language classes is more than merely verbal
more » ... ly verbal expression. There are many ways of constructing meaning -in addition to words, meaning can be constructed with the help of gestures, as well as by using space and objects. There are still few studies on the meaning construction for new words in the multimodal communication of foreign language classrooms. The aim of this paper is to study the use of translation in the process of constructing word meaning in multimodal classroom interaction. The research is based on Estonian and French classes at a university in Estonia. The results draw on audiovisual material and the questionnaire responses of class participants. 110 communicative episodes have been chosen from video recordings and studied with the help of micro-level multimodal discourse analysis. The research results show that translation was used during the French classes on thirty occasions, but only once during the Estonian classes. Besides translation, target language and gestures are used to construct meaning for the new words. Translation is applied in communicative episodes in two ways: it is either the only resource that constructs meaning for a word or it presents itself in combination with other resources.*
doi:10.5128/erya14.04 fatcat:hj45bc3ycvf2jdbixkfmgcxmsu