Peer Translating – A Teacher’s Strategy

I had a challenge before me. I was entrusted with a difficult task-teaching Research Methodology to students pursuing their Masters in different disciplines. I had a strongly motivated class. They were keen learners. The only drawback was the language. The participants were Cambodian nationals with a minimal proficiency in English. I did not speak their language and I was a non-native English teacher.

I was a strong supporter of the Direct Method. I did not favor the use of the mother tongue in the classroom. I strongly believed that students should be taught using the target language. Backed by experience, I was confident I could deliver my teaching well. I embarked upon the task faithfully and diligently. I explained. I lectured. I simplified. I used anecdotes, examples and illustrations, even pictures. I drew, I scribbled on the board.

I used gestures-everything I could think off, to get my lessons across to the learners. After four teaching sessions, I realized I was getting nowhere. Of the 25 learners only 5 could follow the lessons, as is apparent from their ability to give correct responses to my elicitations. The rest were passive recipients. I could see and understand their struggles to comprehend the lessons. They understood mine as well.

I had to think of a strategy -an alternative, and it had to professor de inglês nativo be soon. I had already wasted or i thought i wasted a lot of my teaching time. After a lot of reflection and a tossing of ideas, I decided on peer- translation as a strategy. I divided the class into 5 groups with 5 students in each. Each group was assigned a leader.

The leaders were naturally the five students who were comparatively better than the rest. I divided the teaching time of 90 minutes into two halves. 45 minutes for my teaching and the other 45 minutes for peer translation.

It was not easy. Translation is indeed difficult, especially in terms of getting equivalents for terms like – hypothesis, null hypotheses, a variable, an intervening variable, an extraneous variable, cohort study design, error of central tendency, elevation effect. These are just a few of the many terms found in research methodology which cannot be readily translated into Khmer of any other language for that matter.

The strategy worked. (Of course I had to work extra time with the leaders of each group) The activity of translating the class discussions into Khmer did not only involve the leaders alone The whole group was actively involved. It encouraged them to use the dictionary- to search for the most appropriate word to convey what is meant. It motivated active discussions, as they tried to understand and look for equivalents in their mother tongue.