teaching translation from French to English
Thread poster: stephanie Foulkes

stephanie Foulkes  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:33
Italian to English
+ ...
May 30, 2007

I am applying for a position to teach young students, about 18 years old to translate from French into English, in Bristol. Can anyone give me some tips, or share their experience especially on teaching English or other languages at an advanced level as I don't have much experience with this? For example what were the biggest grammatical problems and challenges in general? How did you cope with literary tranlations which is what I'd be doing? (also newspaper articles) I have a phone interview on Friday and am very nervous, I expect I'll be asked mainly about how I teach grammar, but I've never taught literature or anything like that!
thanks in advance


Patrice  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:33
French to English
+ ...
these are different topics May 31, 2007

Teaching advanced English is far different from teaching translation. Someone (eg. a student) who does not have an advanced knowledge of English (or other language) has no business translating.

I have taught ESL at all levels and have used translation exercises with my advanced students as a tool for language teaching, but these were very advanced students.

Also, translation isn't just about language. It's about research, developing general and specific knowledge bases and many other things.

But if you're still at the point of having to teach students about gerunds or whatever, they are not ready to provide accurate translations, and I don't think the world really needs more inaccurate translations.


Jim Tucker (X)  Identity Verified
United States
Hungarian to English
+ ...
I would emphasize to the employer... May 31, 2007

... that this would be a form of language-learning exercise, rather than a complete practical preparation for the profession. One cannot really be a good translator at 18, no matter what her/his talents, as the job is based on experience - and this applies even more to literary translation, for which experience with one's own language never seems sufficient.

I would spend a good portion of the class taking a paragraph every session from the classics of French literature, and comparing this closely with, say, two published English translations of the same. Ask the students to characterize and evaluate the two translations, and if the English diverges from the French in some significant way, ask them why they think the translator might have made the choices s/he did.

These are things that, as a teacher and literary translator, I cannot emphasize enough. If they ask you how you teach grammar (wow - now there's an impossible question to answer) I would tell them that a class such as this already assumes a basic knowledge of grammar and that any brushing up will be the students' own responsibility. Here the emphasis is on *decisions* that a translator makes: which ones are allowable, and of these, what are the relative strengths and weaknesses of each?

If you want further exercises, let me know and I will enter a list later.


stephanie Foulkes  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:33
Italian to English
+ ...
Thanks May 31, 2007

Thanks for your comments, it was really interesting to read, and for writing at 7am in the morning!

I am just so full of nerves as it's a phone interview and I have to do an on the spot translation, and I haven't read in French for years and I haven't been teaching English this year, at all really. The course is for Prepa students, for french students who decide to study before going to university, and they are very competitive (and can be real swines I am told!).

I think it will be very useful for them, I think all translators should try translating into another language (if they know another one), as they learn how hard it is and about the process. The course director has sent me alot of information about the course and the translation techniques I will be covering, and I will be covering grammar during the lessons, so I think he will ask me how I teach grammar orally. I mention say that I elicit rules and when doing exercises say why a particular structure is correct/incorrect. I will also look at how I teach modals and other expressions of modality, and adjectives and their invariability in English, as this is very important, and hopefully I'll be okay.


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teaching translation from French to English

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