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Upper division foreign language courses have been reintegrating translation into the curriculum. Several recent projects have used Appropedia as a platform for translation exercises. (See Language education-based translation.) This page documents some of the benefits of using Appropedia as a platform for translation in language courses.
A wealth of good source material
One benefit comes from the nature of the source material. Traditionally, course-based translation has tended to use critically regarded literary content for source material. Advantages have been that such content is culturally relevant and noteworthy. But there are disadvantages as well. Often the material is somewhat dated, the original language may not reflect current usage and the works are often too long to translate in their entirety. Also, well-known content often has existing translations, which has two implications. First, some students might use those translations, gaining a potentially unfair advantage. Second, if the work has already been translated, students will not feel that their effort is of any real value.
Appropedia's content focuses on the topics of environmental sustainability and global poverty, and sharing ideas via open licensing. These are topics of enduring global concern (witness the UN's Millennium Development Goals), and each culture has its own rich perspective on these topics. In past translation projects, instructors have begun by engaging their students in discussions of environmentalism, economics and licensing of intellectual property, and explored the cultural differences relating to these topics. Engaging in today's issues highlights the contrasts between culture more effectively than discussing older works.
In addition, there are numerous articles that need to be translated, and the articles are generally of a size that matches well to translation by one or a small number of students. Students are able to select an article that appeals to them.
The translations are valued
Another benefit comes from students knowing that their work can make a difference. Appropedia's articles are about practical ways of improving lives and sustaining the earth. There is a growing demand for these ideas. Appropedia's software automatically maintains a count of the number of times each article has been accessed. That number is shown at the bottom of each page. (If you're viewing this text at Appropedia, you can see the count for this page at the very bottom of the page.) Students can see which articles are viewed most frequently and use this information to guide their choices. Students typically develop a strong sense of ownership of their translations, which they can check up on and maintain well beyond the end of a course. In this sense, these translation opportunities are a gift that keeps on giving, providing an enduring "carrot" that will help students remain engaged in the language they are learning.
The platform is well-suited to course-based work
There are several aspects of the Appropedia site that make it a great platform for coursework.
- Appropedia's software has built-in edit tracking capability, which makes it easy for an instructor to see who wrote which words. Simply click on the "history" tab at the top of any article and you can see a time-ordered list of all the edit sessions for the article. It shows who made the changes and when they were made, and also provides the ability to view the specific changes that were made during that edit session. If you are viewing this text at Appropedia, you can view the edit history of this page by clicking the history tab at the top of this article.
- Every article has a "talk page" associated with it, where readers and co-editors (and instructors, if they wish) can leave comments and carry on conversations about the structure and content of the article. If you are viewing this text at Appropedia, you can view the discussion ("talk") page for this article by clicking on the "discussion" tab at the top of this article.
- As an online resource, Appropedia can easily be used in a laboratory setting, or in independent homework situations, or a mix of both.
Resources are available to support you
- Repeat Dr ter Horst's readiness to be a reference.
- Some instructors that have used Appropedia as a platform for course-work have uploaded their course outlines here. (Check with Dr ter Horst.) (Provide media links to pdf or powerpoints.)
- Appropedia volunteers are eager to partner with you and your class to answer any technical or procedural questions.
- A growing community-managed "technical phrase language translations" helps students with specialized terminology