Cooperative Translation Workshop – Αλεξανδρούπολη: Απολογισμός Σεμιναρίου

Cooperative Translation Workshop


Translation as a language teaching tool

Can cooperative translation help a beginner get to know a foreign language?

According to the workshop participants …. The answer is YES!

After the great success of the Cooperative Translation Workshop held at the Library of the Goethe-Institut in Athens, organized by Maria Filippou for The Language Project on 23 April 2016, we proceeded in the same direction with a different language and in a different place.

In the Cooperative Translation Workshop, held at the renovated building of the Municipal Library of Alexandroupolis, on 11 December 2016, presented by Mary Zioga, we have managed to demonstrate that Cooperative Translation can be used perfectly in the foreign language classrooms. More specifically, translation can be re-evaluated and re-engaged in the classroom in a dynamic and modern way, leaving behind older perceptions.

The participants of the Comic Translation Workshop (Mafalda), were adults who admire  Spanish Language, but without any previous knowledge of it. Most of them, had knowledge of some other languages like English, French, German or Italian, which helped them a lot in the translation process.

After a brief historical retrospection in the presence of translation in teaching foreign languages, we discussed the basic problems of previous teaching techniques and the reasons we believe translation should return to foreign language classrooms. We ended up in the practical part of our workshop, which demonstrated the theoretical one.

We had chosen some of the humorous stories of Mafalda, as our little girl discusses main problems of the everyday life and is really concerned about important issues of the international political scene over the years. Moreover, Mafalda is a well-known, pleasant and entertaining comic strip.

We formed four groups, used dictionaries, internet and our imagination and we “dived” into translation! We noticed that many Spanish words have the same origin with English, French or Italian words. We also explained some basic pronunciation and reading rules. We offered some grammar theory, like punctuation, male and female words and the plural number of nouns. In addition, we discussed the tree basic endings of the Spanish verbs (-ar, -er, -ir infinitives) in order to help participants use properly their dictionaries. What is more, we tried to match Spanish onomatopoeias to their Greek ones. In conclusion, we talked about Spanish dialects and the main similarities and differences of the Spanish language, spoken in Spain and in Latin-American Countries, as Mafalda is an Argentine comic strip.

Dialogue and team cooperation….The secret of our success!

A new classroom met the translation process and got into touch with the Spanish language. It’s true  that the excitement expressed by everyone who attended the workshop was a perfect outcome.

These are some indicative answers of the anonymous questionnaire given to the participants at the end of the workshop:

 “Which was the most dynamic part of the workshop?”

“I really liked this teaching method; it keeps you awake and induces your participation!”

“It’s amusing and innovative! You can get a general view of the language.”

“Working in groups and the great atmosphere of collaboration.”

“The most dynamic part of the workshop was that we had to do everything by ourselves without waiting for the answer or solution”

“Exploring through the sources”

Here you can see how the imagination and creativity of a participant can be connected with the language and translation! Mafalda…. under the lighthouse of Alexandroupolis!

Considering the above, students’ performance may be significantly increased if they try to avoid rote learning and they free their imagination, intuition, creative thinking and spontaneity.

We are very grateful to Sylvia Kouveli for the photo documentation as well as the participants for the feedback they gave us and their enthusiasm. Also, we would like to thank Mrs Kaiti Makri, manager of the Public Library of Alexandroupolis, for her great hospitality in this fully-equipped place.

Mary Zioga



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