Guided / scaffolded translation activities

There's a renewed focus on translation in Modern Languages teaching in the UK. The GCSE exam will soon include some form of translation to and from the target language. 

Exactly what form that will take remains to be seen, but I thought I'd put together a post on the ways textivate can be used to help create scaffolded translation activities -- with varying levels of support provided to the student.

This post focuses on translation into the target language, which is where I think textivate can be more useful.

Parallel texts

The parallel text feature of textivate allows you to specify an additional text to appear alongside the textivate exercises. (See this blog post for more details.)

If this parallel text is in English, it's a great way of providing structured translation practice.

And you can provide translation-type activities at various levels, ranging from putting chunks together to putting words together to filling in letters etc. See the examples below. The ones toward the end of the list are more like true translation activities.

Using the English text as support students should...

1. put the chunks of text in order.

2. select each time from the alternatives to rebuild the text.

3. as above but chunks specified by teacher.

See this blog post on specifying chunks in textivate.

NB. This is a different resource to the other in this blog post. Note that the parallel text in the image above has divisions which correspond to the chunks. This is not essential but is another way of scaffolding, providing support for the task.

4. rebuild the text 3 words at a time.

5. rebuild the text 2 words at a time.

6. jumbled words (re-order words in each sentence)

7. rebuild the text word by word.

8. fill in the missing vowels.

9. fill in the consonants.

10. fill in the missing letters (50% of letters removed).

11. use the anagrams to build the text.

12. fill in the missing letters, using initials as clues.

13. fill in the entire text.

The last 2 or 3 of these are approaching true translation (certainly the last one).

It is not suggested that students should have a go at all of these, but that as a teacher you have lots of options to choose from. You'll probably work towards the more challenging activities as students get used to it.

Find the French / Spanish / German / whatever...

Another feature of parallel texts in textivate is the facility to include the target language text along with matching activities (for Text+Match resources). The parallel texts blog post explains how this is done.

This means that you can provide Find the French activities like the ones below:

1. anagrams based on expressions from the text.

2. translate the phrase using initial letters as support.

3. find the phrase in the text. (word shape as support)

And on the gamier side we have...

4. invaders

5. snake

6. maze

7. football

...and many, many more.


Of course, thanks to the sequences feature (see this blog post) you can set a sequence of one or more activities for students to complete as an assessment, for class work or for homework, with a record of your students scores etc.

This link is to a single-activity sequence based on the "initials" version of the whole text translation. It has a pass mark of 70%. Students can click on the "Hint?" button if they get stuck, but this affects their score. (Just close the log-in box to have a go at it yourself.) 

(If you attempt this sequence with a student log-in, you'll be given the option to upload your score once you have completed it satisfactorily.)