English Teachers in Russia & Elsewhere
E-textbook — Issue #126
=> The Great Song Translation Activity
=> Where to find songs?
=> Lyrics to Cole Porter’s “True Love”
=> In the Next Issues
The Great Song Translation Activity
Find an English language song. It should be a song the students don’t know. It shouldn’t be too long. You’ll need the lyrics and an audio.
Translate the lyrics FROM English to the L1 of the students using a computer translator. Let your students know it’s a computer translation, but they should try to make the best English they can out of it. You’ll see that the translation comes out kind of funky. Here’s a Russian translation of the Cole Porter song “True Love.” (For the English lyrics see below).
Kind of funny, huh?
And here are translations (using Google: http://www.google.com/language_tools) in Japanese…
… and Arabic.
I suspect they are funny too, although I don’t read Japanese or Arabic.
Now if all your students speak Russian, or they all speak Japanese, paste the appropriate translation onto an MS Word document. You can fit about 20 on a single page in fact.Print that page, cut it up, distribute. Or you could even write the translation on the board.What if your class is a mixed group–made up of 5 Chinese speakers, 6 Arabic speakers, 2 Czechs, 2 Romanians, 1 Mexican, 1 Thai, and 1 Turk? Well, make translations in those seven languages. It’s easy. All you do is paste the English into a free translator, like Google’s, or one of these:
Then paste the various translations into your Word document. Print and distribute to the appropriate pairs and groups.It doesn’t take long to do even seven or eight computer translations, and you don’t mind because you’re such a good teacher, and you love making really interesting and useful activities.
Distribute handouts of the translated song (NOT the English version), one per group. Groups will work together, translating the song into English.
With the translations done, you now have several versions, one for each group. Ask someone from each group to write their group’s translation on the board, or on a poster so that everybody in the class can see
Take a moments to compare the several translations. Students may want to talk about the differences.
Give a piece of chalk or a marker to one student from each group. These students will stand at the board next to their group’s translation.
Does any group have the English version rendered exactly? If not, play the song again. Give groups another chance at listening. Discuss changes and corrections. If the song is short, you may even want to play it a third time.
By now, everyone knows the words, and they are written for all to see. Play the audio and have the class sing along.
Where to Find Songs
Or use “True Love” below.
Lyrics to “True Love” by Cole Porter
I give to you and you give to me
True love, true love
For on and on through eternity
True love, true love
For you and I have a guardian angel
On high, with nothing to do
But to give to me and to give to you
Love forever, true
In the next Issues
Fathers’ Day stuff. Re-creation dictation. Text on the Sale of Alaska. Idiom - “Until the Cows Come Home.”
Copyright 2008 Kevin McCaughey & I.M. Poosheesty.