Why do some chunk translations sound awkward?

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Yes, it's true. Some of the native-language translations for some of the chunks in our lessons sound "awkward".

For example, a Chinese lesson might have this target-language content: "他们从一些搜索引擎或者从朋友那里得知"

This could be translated as: "They learn from some search engines and friends."

But, instead, we translate it like this: "They - from some search engines and friends - learn."

Why do we do this?

The short answer is, "Because it works better - it's more helpful - for the learner." 

Here's the long answer...

What we're doing is to make the order of the words in the English correspond fairly closely to the order of the words in the Chinese. There are several reasons why this approach is helpful to learners.

First, it makes it easier for the learner to absorb the meaning of individual Chinese words.

It also helps the them to absorb Chinese syntax, which is quite different from English syntax.

Also, when learners use Language Mentor, a specific dynamic usually comes into play. Initially, the learner simply repeats the target language content. Then, after a while, they learn the content and can practice translating from the native language translations that we provide into the target language. Once they get to this point, practice tends to become a game of "can I get these right?".

At this point, the content that we give to the user to translate needs to correspond as closely as possible to the "right answer" that we want them to vocalize. If we don't give them a fairly good indication of what we want them to say, they'll say something different and, once they hear the "correct" answer, they'll feel frustrated. In other words, the "game" won't be fun. As a result, they'll learn less, and may even stop studying entirely.

If you've been using Language Mentor for a while, this probably makes sense to you. If you haven't, it may not. This is one of those things that you have to experience directly. We invite you to spend some time with Language Mentor and then see what you think. Do you agree? We'd love to hear your thoughts.  :)

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