29Digital Translation: Its Potential and Limitations for Informal Language Learning

HELEN SLATYER AND SARAH FORGET

Introduction

Translation and foreign language learning and teaching are historically and conceptually linked through their common goal of communication (Rogers 2000). The association is believed to have started with the teaching of the classics in Europe in the Middle Ages (Weihua 2000). In the late‐eighteenth century, the grammar translation (GT) method was developed in Prussian secondary schools with the aim of making the teaching of modern languages more respectable by emulating the traditional teaching of the classics (Cook 2010). GT was one of the earliest systematic language teaching methods that used translation in the modern language classroom (Richards and Rodgers 2014). However, by the middle half of the twentieth century it was discredited and is still considered negatively by teachers (Pym et al. 2013) due to the introduction of the first of the direct methods which promoted teaching the foreign language intralingually (using only the language that was being acquired for all communication in and outside the classroom1). At the same time bilingual2 foreign language teaching and learning was also rejected. Direct methods were superseded in the 1970s by meaning‐based methods such as the communicative method, which also focused on using only the foreign language for learning, in this case in naturalistic, communicative contexts with the aim of encouraging ...

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