In the past, translation was believed to inhibit non-native students as they learned a new language. In fact, translation in the classroom was virtually nonexistent. English teaching programs focused on the new language and treated the students’ native language as something to be abandoned because it was viewed as a hindrance to learning English.

Today, we know that’s not the case. Here are five reasons why translation should be incorporated in the classroom.

Reason 1: Preserving the student’s native language enhances communication.

Demonstrating the ways that learning another language leads to more opportunities provides reluctant learners with the motivation they need to succeed. Students can make connections between their existing knowledge and the new words that they are learning. Showing them how to express themselves in a new way increases understanding.

Additionally, preserving the student’s native language can have a lasting impact on their future employability. According to New American Economy, demand for bilingual workers in the United States more than doubled over the last five years. In fact, bilingual employees earn an average of 5-20% more per hour than the position’s base rate. For an American graduate, a second language could be worth up to $128,000 over 40 years. 

Psychology Today acknowledges these socioeconomic advantages while also emphasizing the many cognitive benefits to being bilingual. Bilingual students have a larger working memory. In terms of brain structure, they have more grey matter and associated higher brain activity in the parts of the brain which control language and attention. Superior brain function is a strong predictor of academic success.

Reason #2: Students are still learning their native language.

This is particularly true of especially young children (i.e., from preschool to second grade). They should not be discouraged from learning their native language; instead, their teachers should be sensitive to their specific needs.

With translation in the classroom, these students will learn to effectively communicate in both languages. This is a way to better prepare students for jobs in a globalized economy. It is necessary to provide instruction in two languages in order to help students develop proficiency in both.

Reason #3: It is important to avoid diminishing the students’ native culture.

When students are not just permitted to hold on to their cultural identity, but encouraged to do so, it facilitates learning and enhances communication between the students and teachers. The ability to communicate increases self-esteem in students, which improves their ability to learn.

Additionally, students whose parents are unable to communicate in the primary language are far more likely to be involved if there are translation services available at school. This increased level of parental involvement is a big boost for student performance.

Reason #4: Smooth and effective communication can be achieved with translation.

It is vital for students to feel like they fit in so they can fully assimilate to the new culture. Students who struggle with English hesitate to engage and participate in class, which is an integral part of the learning process. The student’s comfort must be considered, especially if the student is new to the classroom.

Reason #5: Students who learn another language do significantly better on standardized tests.

Research suggests that, in the long run, English learners gain more academic skills in any kind of two-language program than they do in English-only programs.

Providing translation in the classroom, despite its former reputation, has been proven to help students master a language more quickly and, at the same time, cultivate a positive attitude about learning new languages. Students benefit from translation services that enable them to maintain their native language while learning a new one and learning about diverse cultures. The benefits of facilitating learning by providing translation go far beyond the classroom.

 Does your school require translation services for non-native speakers? At LinguaLinx, we have experience with more than 200 languages– you’re sure to find a certified professional who can assist you with your translation needs.

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