Journal of Humanistic and Social Studies (May 2016)

Translation within TEFL: The Nonprofessional Skill

  • Oana-Maria Franţescu

Journal volume & issue
Vol. VII, no. 1
pp. 47 – 62


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With translation used, then banned, then reinstated in TEFL, the mixed expectations employers have from prospective workers about their linguistic competence entail distinct nuances the classroom context takes in what regards translation. Boris Naimushin’s concept of a fifth skill has important consequences in the shift from a secondary role of translation in support of the other four skills (reading, writing, listening, and speaking) to a purpose of its own. The paper explores the border zone between professionalized translation and learner’s translation starting from Naimushin’s hypothesis. It aims to support the use of translation in language teaching while warning on the implications on the labour market of the existence of non-professional translation and translators. The references to Romanian learners reflect some specific aspects in the perception of translation as part of the foreign language experience. The paper also provides a few considerations on the impact of translation on learners of different levels suggesting that, should translation be included as a fifth skill, it should ideally have its own distinct descriptors in correspondence to those of the CEFR, for each level. This is another challenge in distinguishing between professional and learner’s translation, but very relevant for employers who specifically want to recruit speakers of other L2 languages for jobs other than professional translation, but involving translation competences.