The use of translation in English for specific academic purposes classes in Saudi Arabia

Alsuwayhiri, Meshari Muthyib (2024) The use of translation in English for specific academic purposes classes in Saudi Arabia. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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The use of translation in second language pedagogy has long been a topic of controversy, discussion and debate. Translation was omnipresent as a language teaching method, with its dominance well-documented in the scholarly literature concerned with foreign language teaching (Kelly, 1969). However, the end of the 19th century marked a watershed moment, which saw translation fall from grace owing to critics representing the Reform Movement, who voiced a chorus of disapproval of its excessive emphasis on the written form of language to the detriment of oral proficiency. This gave rise to a host of alternative teaching methods, e.g. the Direct Method, the Berlitz Method, and the Natural Method, prioritising the development of oral competence, which translation was thought to impede, and thus was only deemed attainable if second language teaching followed a monolingual approach. Consequently, much criticism, controversy and scepticism surrounded the use of translation, with the credo that English is best taught through English prevailing as an axiom that permeated the theoretical discourse, despite relying on assumptions rather than being evidence-based (G. Cook, 2010). Since the recent turn of century, however, a growing, revived interest in translation has been observed, in conjunction with a flurry of publications and academic research advocating a return to bi/multilingual teaching, so much so that it has been termed the translation turn (Carreres & Noriega-Sánchez, 2021).

Against this backdrop, this thesis seeks to explore the attitudes of Saudi university English for specific academic purposes (ESAP) teaching staff and students to translation, the purposes for which they use it and the factors leading to its use, in addition to investigating their actual use of translation in practice. A mixed-method approach, employing classroom observations, surveys and interviews, is employed to gain an in-depth understanding of the topic under study. The results of the inquiry provide evidence of widespread use of translation in ESAP classes, despite the teaching staff being strongly in favour of an English-only approach. This offers yet another indication of the complex relationship between what teachers believe and what they actually do repeatedly reported in the literature, in this case concerning the difference between teachers’ attitudes to the use of translation and what actually occurs in their practice. The findings further show an appreciation of the merits of translation among both teachers and students, which is primarily drawn upon when issues of students’ low proficiency arise, as well as when teaching and learning complex ESAP vocabulary and grammar.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: Supported by funding from the University of Umm Al Qura.
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2300 Higher Education
P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts & Humanities > School of Critical Studies
Supervisor's Name: Anderson, Professor Wendy June and Macdiarmid, Dr. Carole Ann
Date of Award: 2024
Depositing User: Theses Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2024-84112
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 07 Mar 2024 14:49
Last Modified: 07 Mar 2024 14:49
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.84112

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