Learn Spanish with me My Journey to Fluency Tips, Methods, Motivation

Bidirectional Translation

June 30, 2015
Bidirectional Translation

Hoy es martes. Hace buen tiempo hoy – 31 grados Celsius y el cielo es azul – ¡muy extraño para Inglaterra! (Today is Tuesday. The weather is good today – 31 degrees Celsius and the sky is blue – very strange/unsual for England!)

No tengo mucho tiempo hoy, porque tengo mucho trabajo. Sin embargo, durante mi desayuno he visto un vídeo sobre traducción bidireccional de Luca (thepolyglotdream.com). Fue muy interesante.

(I don’t have much time today, because I have a lot of work. However, during my breakfast I watched a video on bidirectional translation by Luca Lampariello (thepolyglotdream.com). It was very interesting.)

It was a short section of video taken from a talk that Luca did as part of his ‘Master any language masterclass series’. Here’s a summary of the video.

Bidirectional Translation

Step 1: analysis

Luca says that just using a dictionary to look up single words doesn’t help you to understand the meaning of the sentence. However, if you compare the meaning of a text in your own native language (L1) and the same text written in your target language (the one which you are learning, L2) then you can see how the meaning is conveyed in the two different languages.

For example, you can see how a verb or an adjective might be positioned differently in the sentence.

By comparing, and doing this with many texts, the brain will learn the rules of the new language.

You don’t need to use a dictionary, just use your own language as a crutch to help you understand the meaning and grammar in your target language.

It helps you to understand words and expressions in context.

Step 2: Synthesis

Luca says that it’s one thing to understand the text but another to absorb and produce the text and to do that you need to translate from your own native language to your target language.

I find it fairly easy to translate from Spanish into English, but less easy to translate English into Spanish – which is essentially what I’m trying to do when I’m speaking.

It helps us to notice patterns

When you are working on a piece of text, Luca says if you get 60% of the translation correct then you’ve done well. If you get all of it right you may have just memorised it and not really understood and absorbed it. It’s better if you make mistakes, because then you’ll correct your mistakes and really understand what you did wrong and how the language works.

Bidirectional translation helps us to:

think in the target language

retain information

This is how it works:

Luca says that it’s best to use a spaced repetition method. This is the method that I’m going to adopt for my bidirectional translation:

L1 is my native language (for me English) and L2 is my target language (Spanish)

Day 1           Day 2          Day 3                               Day 4        Day 5

Analysis     L2>L1        L1>L2 (synthesis)       L2>L1       L1>L2(synthesis)

Day 1 (analysis) I’m going to analyse a text (by  listening or reading), using my own native language as a crutch to help me to understand the text and make sure that I understand everything.

Day 2 I’m going to try to translate the text from Spanish into English (L2>L1).

Day 3 I’m going to translate the text from English into Spanish. (L1>L2). This is much harder to do!

Day 4 I’m going to translate the text from Spanish into English (L2>L1).

Day 5 Finally I’m going to translate the text from English into Spanish (L1>L2).

Now the text is absorbed (hopefully) and I’ll move on to another piece of text.

Luca says that you if you do this for just 3 or 4 months using various texts, then you will get a solid foundation of the language. This method is particularly useful for beginners.

Luca says that translation is a tool, not a goal. Your own native language is just a crutch to get you started, to help you understand then you can leave it alone. If you don’t you may find yourself forever filtering your target language through you’re own native tongue.

The main goal with bidirectional translation is to build a solid foundation in your L2 by using your L1 as a crutch. It’s very powerful and efficient. It’s fast because you don’t use any dictionary; it’s great for memory retention (because you retain 80% of the information, whereas 10% is the normal rate).

The text that I’ve decided to analyse is from ‘Las adventuras de Víctor en España’ (Victor’s adventures in Spain) a book written by Gordon and Cynthia Smith-Durán from LightSpeedSpanish.

I’m going to take one chapter at a time, and using the method described above, work on a new chapter every 4 days.

So today, I analysed chapter 1 of Victor’s adventures, and read 5 pages of my Spanish novel.

Time spent learning Spanish today: 1 hour

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