Constructivism and cooperative learning: An application in teaching interpreting to senior students of business english at the university of finance – Marketing

Translation is “rendering the meaning of a text into another language in the way that the author intended the text” (Newmark, 1988, p. 5), and there would be no global communication without it (Newmark, 2003, cited in Nguyen Thi Nhu Ngoc, Nguyen Thi Kieu Thu & Le Thi Ngoc Anh, 2016). Since Vietnam’s open-Door policy, there has been a mounting demand for translating and interpreting due largely to its increasing economic, diplomatic and commercial relations with other countries. Then, translating and interpreting, which play a part in foreign language teaching and learning, especially at universities, colleges, academies and institutes (higher education institutions or HEIs), where students study to earn a degree in linguistics or applied linguistics, become more and more popular on the employment market and have been pursued by many as their life-long careers after graduation. Currently, about sixty HEIs are training translating and interpreting, either as a discipline or as a major, and the importance and popularity of this profession actually led to the official establishment of Vietnam Translator and Interpreter Group in 2015, in a hope to improve expertise and business in the field, and help increase training, teaching, assessing and accrediting trainees in the future (Nguyen Thi Nhu Ngoc et al., 2016)

pdf10 trang | Chia sẻ: hoa30 | Ngày: 30/08/2021 | Lượt xem: 173 | Lượt tải: 0download
Bạn đang xem nội dung tài liệu Constructivism and cooperative learning: An application in teaching interpreting to senior students of business english at the university of finance – Marketing, để tải tài liệu về máy bạn click vào nút DOWNLOAD ở trên
CONSTRUCTIVISM AND COOPERATIVE LEARNING: 
AN APPLICATION IN TEACHING INTERPRETING 
TO SENIOR STUDENTS OF BUSINESS ENGLISH 
AT THE UNIVERSITY OF FINANCE–MARKETING 
Chu Quang Phe
*
University of Finance-Marketing 
Received: 27/06/2017; Revised: 20/07/2017; Accepted: 30/08/2018 
Abstract: The paper discusses the application of constructivism to teaching interpreting to senior 
students of Business English at the University of Finance-Marketing’s Foreign Language Department. 
In fact, the author depicts the classroom model, in which the constructivist approach in combination 
with cooperative learning is adopted in two empirical courses. The participant observation and 
questionnaire reveal that the students are really interested in and inspired by the constructivist approach 
to teaching interpreting at tertiary level, and the factor analysis of material preference, language 
proficiency, confidence, methods and the teacher through data statistics indicates that the students like 
and support the empirical courses, and the teacher is the most influential on students’ learning and the 
most satisfying factor. 
Key words: Constructivism, cooperative learning, cognitive development, language proficiency 
1. Introduction 
Translation is “rendering the meaning of a text into another language in the way that the author intended 
the text” (Newmark, 1988, p. 5), and there would be no global communication without it (Newmark, 2003, cited 
in Nguyen Thi Nhu Ngoc, Nguyen Thi Kieu Thu & Le Thi Ngoc Anh, 2016). Since Vietnam’s open-door policy, 
there has been a mounting demand for translating and interpreting due largely to its increasing economic, 
diplomatic and commercial relations with other countries. Then, translating and interpreting, which play a part 
in foreign language teaching and learning, especially at universities, colleges, academies and institutes (higher 
education institutions or HEIs), where students study to earn a degree in linguistics or applied linguistics, become 
more and more popular on the employment market and have been pursued by many as their life-long careers 
after graduation. Currently, about sixty HEIs are training translating and interpreting, either as a discipline or as 
a major, and the importance and popularity of this profession actually led to the official establishment of Vietnam 
Translator and Interpreter Group in 2015, in a hope to improve expertise and business in the field, and help 
increase training, teaching, assessing and accrediting trainees in the future (Nguyen Thi Nhu Ngoc et al., 2016). 
Interpreting is “to translate one language into another as you hear it”, (Oxford Advanced Learner's 
Dictionary) or “oral translation” (Nguyen Thi Kieu Thu, 2016). This skill has long been taught in Vietnam 
either in combination with or in separation from translating; nonetheless, it has gained much attention for 
two decades now at HEIs which teach foreign languages with the foundation of faculty departments of 
translating and interpreting (Nguyen Thi Kieu Thu, 2016). Although there have been numerous forums, 
workshops, and conferences, either online or offline on interpreting, researchers and lecturers still find it 
hard to spot the best approaches and methodologies on teaching, training, and assessing interpreting in 
Vietnam. 
* Email: cq.phe@ufm.edu.vn 
At the University of Finance-Marketing (UFM), Foreign Language Department (FLD) started 
training Business English majored students in 1998. Based on the curriculum of Business English for 
undergraduates at the UFM’s FLD, interpreting is offered separately from translating and is instructed in 
two consecutive courses, namely Interpreting 1 and Interpreting 2. Though formally constructed, the syllabi 
are still problematic as they fail to depict the methodology, the teaching perspectives and the relevant 
theories that guide the practices. Rather, they just focus themselves much on interpreting skill training and 
mention some topics under which the materials are adopted for practice in class; thus, the materials are 
varied and current. In fact, without the official course books concerned with the relevant theories, these 
courses often go more practical than academic. This is quite challenging for lecturers because each may 
implement the syllabi in a different way. 
The practice also reveals that teaching interpreting as well as translating at the UFM’s FLD is 
product-driven. Trainee students are very often given a source text and some time to prepare their 
performance individually or collaboratively. They, indeed, work individually for most of the time in the 
classroom; little discussion, little cooperation, and little criticism have been observed. The trainee students’ 
performance is ‘everything” that shows their competence, for the assessment of their work is based mainly 
on their presented product in class. This means failing to keep track of students’ thought and to give them 
instant feedback or comments to improve their skills. 
On the whole, the author of this paper decided on a change in the classroom of Interpreting 2, where 
trainee students can have much more autonomy to their studying via applying the constructivist approach 
and cooperative learning to better their interpreting competence. The paper’s findings are, then, guided by 
three following research questions: 
1. Does constructivism actually help out in students’ interpreting learning? 
2. How satisfied are students with constructivism in terms of perception, attitude, and behavior? 
3. What are the advantages and disadvantages of applying constructivism to teaching interpreting? 
2. Literature review 
2.1. Constructivism and cooperative learning 
Constructivism is a philosophical viewpoint about the nature of knowing, and it has recently grabbed 
great attention from educators because of its applicability and practicality in various sciences. 
Before constructivist ideas, children's play and exploration of the world were normally seen as aimless 
and of little importance; however, Piaget (1973, cited in Can, 2009) did not agree with these traditional views 
but treat play as an important and necessary part of the student's cognitive development and provided scientific 
evidence for it. He developed personal constructivism focusing on cognitive and developmental perspectives. In 
his view, knowledge is external to the child and is acquired as he develops and interacts with the world via his 
actions. In other words, knowledge is a process of continuous self-construction through their experiences with 
the surroundings. 
Bruner also defined discovery as getting knowledge for oneself by the use of his mind, and this involves 
an expectation of finding regularities and relationships in the environment (cited in Can, 2009). To obtain 
knowledge, children devise certain strategies for searching and finding out the regularities and relationships, 
and these acts mean constructing the ways to learn new things. 
In a different way, Vygotsky (1978) believed that development is the conversion of social relations into 
mental functions and developed social constructivism. Knowledge could not be understood without reference 
to the social and cultural context where these concepts are embedded. In his view, learning is a process in 
which learners modify the situations when responding to it and the interactions between individuals in the 
development lead to acquiring new knowledge. In other words, knowing is a socio-cultural construction and 
meaning negotiation achieved through language and the language is the tool for making sense of the world. 
Dewey (1966) supported the idea that knowing is the process of intervention and is always involved 
in actions. This means “learning by doing” as knowing is considered as consisting of operations that turn 
the experienced reality into a form of relationships that can be used later. Social interactions, then, drive 
participants to pay attention to what others construct and that leads to knowing the world. 
Kuhn (1970) demonstrated how humans experience the world to get their knowledge constructed. In 
his viewpoint, people actively construct their understanding through constantly restructuring their thoughts, 
and perceive the world through their experiences, through interface of their senses and through their self-
constructed meaning of those senses. In short, knowing is a process of dynamic adaptation towards viable 
interpretations of their experiences. 
Cooperative learning refers to “students working in teams on an assignment or project under conditions in 
which certain criteria are satisfied, including that the team members be held individually accountable for the 
complete content of the assignment or project” (Felder & Brent, 2007). In fact, it can be used for any type of 
assignment that can be given to students in lecture classes, laboratories, or project-based courses. In addition, 
cooperative learning is an approach to group work that minimizes the occurrence of those unpleasant situations and 
maximizes the learning and satisfaction that result from working on a high-performance team (Law, 2009; Felder 
& Brent, 2007). 
In short, the constructivist theory regards that knowledge is a “web of relationships” and is 
constructed actively by learners as they attempt to make sense of their experiences and environments (Can, 
2009); hence, they should really have an opportunity to go through the student-driven approach in actively 
learning environments which feature problem-based learning, group learning, accelerated learning, 
discovery learning, inquiry-based learning, experiential learning, or project-based learning (Alzahrani & 
Woollard, 2013). In other words, learners should be in a studying environment where they are proactive 
and curious about the unknown to acquire knowledge. Concerning interpreting, it is believed that 
constructivism should work in combination with cooperative learning to create a favorable atmosphere for 
trainee interpreters to improve their competence in an active way. 
2.2. Teaching and assessing interpreting 
The Euro Commission suggests several types of interpreting such as consecutive, simultaneous, relay, 
retour, pivot, cheval, asymmetric, whispering, and sign language. In Vietnam, interpreting is more concerned 
with conference interpreting, and Nguyen Quoc Hung (2012), in his course book named Interpreting 
Techniques: Vietnamese-English and English-Vietnamese, introduces and discusses the two first types, namely 
consecutive and simultaneous interpreting. In addition, the approaches and methodologies to teaching 
interpreting quite vary from place to place. For some HEIs which define interpreting as a major, it is then taught 
as an end. The graduates from these HEIs are supposed to pursue their careers as professional interpreters later. 
In a different way, some HEIs offer interpreting as a means, and their students are expected to study interpreting 
to facilitate studying a foreign language, (Nguyen Thi Kieu Thu, 2016). Some other HEIs which follow the 
ASEAN University Network quality assurance treat interpreting teaching as an outcome-based process. Trainee 
interpreters are expected to successfully complete the course when the outcome-specific criteria stated clearly 
on the syllabi are satisfied (Nguyen Quang Nhat, 2016). 
The National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters based in Australia sets and maintains 
high national standards in translating and interpreting to enable the existence of a pool of accredited translators and 
interpreters responsive to the changing needs and demography of the Australian community. This organization has 
classified interpreters as five distinct levels: language aide, para-professional interpreter, interpreter, conference 
interpreter and senior conference interpreter, (Nguyen Quoc Hung, 2012) and those who wish to make a living in 
this profession should be accredited. However, in Vietnam, the process and procedure of training, teaching, 
assessing and accrediting interpreting are not standardized yet and are still in much difficulty. Even though there 
are a few course books on interpreting published by Vietnamese authors and academics, interpreting is on its 
challenging path because the theories and studies in the field are still few. 
Regarding its assessment, each HEI sets a different standard for students to be passed, (Nguyen Thi Nhu 
Ngoc et al., 2016) and assessment works more for pedagogical intent than for accreditation (Nguyen Thi Kieu 
Thu, 2016). Assessing interpreting and translating is based on students’ in-class performance (as a product) 
rather than improving competence (as a process) as most criteria take into account of what students interpret or 
translate achieved through their performance, (Nguyen Thi Nhu Ngoc et al., 2016). For instance, Table 1 shows 
a comparison of assessment criteria of translating and interpreting Vietnamese to English and vice versa at two 
HEIs. The criteria shown below are concerned with language use of a target text as a particular product, either 
in the oral or spoken forms; however, the assessment fails to reflect students’ thought, attitude, effect, and the 
like. 
Table 1. A comparison of criteria for assessing translating and interpreting 
(Nguyen Thi Nhu Ngoc et al., 2016) 
HEIs Criterion 1 Criterion 2 Criterion 3 Criterion 4 
Ho Chi Minh City 
University of Social 
Sciences and Humanities 
Accuracy 
50% 
Language use: 
25% 
Translation 
competence: 25% 
Diplomatic Academy of 
Vietnam 
Comprehension 
40% 
Accuracy and 
appropriate 
rendering: 30% 
Coherence, cohesion 
and reorganization: 
20% 
Grammar, 
spelling and 
punctuation: 10% 
In short, different approaches to interpreting in Vietnam with much focus on analyzing trainees’ target texts 
show the lack of standards for training, teaching, assessing and accrediting trainees and present challenges to make 
interpreting a well-trained and well-assessed profession in Vietnam. 
3. Application of constructivism in teaching interpreting 
In Vietnam, there are far more studies on translating than on interpreting. Not until recently has 
interpreting been discussed more at workshops and conferences; nonetheless, few papers center themselves 
on the teaching methodology which guides the approach, the design and the method of teaching this course. 
As a result, a constructivist approach to teaching interpreting is quite promising. 
3.1. Classroom models and sampling 
Interpreting 2 is scheduled to take place in forty five fifty-minute periods in eleven class meetings, 
each of which lasts four periods in a week. All the trainee interpreters were instructed to take part in the 
learning procedure where they were about to have a lot of autonomy to determine what they want to study 
later. 
At the very beginning of the course, the author, also known as the lecturer of Interpreting 2 in the 
empirical courses, described the classroom model of Interpreting 2 to the senior students of Business 
English. More specifically, they were about to follow the 3P model (Presentation-Practice-Production), 
where constructivist and cooperative learning are combined to improve trainee students’ interpreting 
competence. For every class meeting, they are allowed to explore the theory on interpreting and the strategy 
and techniques accompanied by illustrations and examples before they move on to the practice. 
For the whole course, they are permitted to choose the materials they want to interpret based on the 
given criteria. They negotiate their choice of the materials as the source texts, either Vietnamese to English 
or vice versa ahead of or in class prior to their drill. Then, they normally sit in groups of six to eight members 
to simulate a real-life situation where interpreting is needed. They cooperate, make discussions and 
suggestions and agree on assignments before playing the roles. The lecturer walks around the classroom to 
provide help and manages the practice to make sure students can improve their competence and 
performance. 
For production, students play what they have rehearsed or drilled. They might simulate a conference, 
a forum, an on-site exhibition, a ceremony, a celebration, an announcement, and the like. To ensure 
authenticity, one student produces the source text, another works as the interpreter, and the others in the 
group play the audience. The rest of the class also plays the audience to listen to, check and raise questions 
to help the on-going trainee interpreter improve his/her interpreting competence. The lecturer times and 
manages the activity to maintain the continuity of the production in class. 
On the whole, the approach to teaching interpreting is constructivist because students work in groups 
for most of the time, and they can have autonomous access to what they do and how they do it in class. 
They, sure enough, have strategy to what they want to know, and the knowing takes place through 
interactions among the peers. 
3.2. Sampling and instruments 
The author has been conducting the empirical work on 89 senior students of Business English on two 
Interpreting 2 courses for six weeks now. Because of the small size, all of those studying Interpreting 2 
have been sampled for the research purposes. 
Qualitatively, observation of the sample is the most regular activities in class. As the lecturer of the 
courses, he kept record of students’ genres of source texts for practice, and made observation of their 
performance in class in terms of interest, attitude, cooperation and language competence. 
Quantitatively, the questionnaire consisting of twenty four study questions is employed to analyze 
five affecting factors: namely materials, language proficiency, confidence, methods and the teacher. These 
factors are supposed to influence students’ learning when the constructivist approach is applied to teach 
interpreting. The questionnaire designed on the Google form was sent electronically to the sample’s 
Facebook to be filled out. However, the data of 85 informants (equivalent to 96%) was recorded by the 
deadline. As can be shown in Table 3, all of them have successfully passed Interpreting 1 before registering 
for Interpreting 2 and it is also interesting to note that more than half of them got the score of seven or 
higher. 
The student subjects’ responses to the study questions in the questionnaire are based on the Likert 
scale based rating which ranges from 1 to 5. This five point scale includes 1 (strongly disagree), 2 (disagree), 
3 (neutral), 4 (agree) and 5 (completely agree). The interpretation of the data primarily relies on the mean 
range of strong disagreement (below 1.8), disagreement (1.81-2.6), neutrality (2.61-3.4), agreement (3.41-
4.2) and complete agreement (4.21 or higher). 
Overall, all that they reveal during the empirical work and through the survey questionnaire will be 
analyzed and reported in detail in Section 3 of this paper. 
4. Data analysis and discussion 
4.1. Trainee students’ attitude and interest 
Figure 1 provides the information on the students’ choice of materials, categorized under certain 
topics. For the past 6 weeks, 54 source texts have been submitted for the practice. All of them are in English, 
and most of them are very current. As is seen in Figure 1, business news including economics, tourism, 
trade, and catering account for the majority of the chart, totaling 66%. Next come political news with 15% 
and education and health make up 9% each. Last are literature and agriculture which represent 6% and 4% 
respectively. Although the materials are for the trainee interpreters to pick up, their preferen

File đính kèm:

  • pdfconstructivism_and_cooperative_learning_an_application_in_te.pdf
Tài liệu liên quan