Translation-Based Writing Method

By. Zainurrahman

The term “Translation-Based Writing” might not be familiar yet in writing world. However, in the year of 2013, I and one of my students conducted a research to reveal the close relationship between translation and writing, especially writing in second language. Our principles are based on Flower and Hayes (1981) about writing as cognitive process and the translation theories based on Munday (2001), Bassnet (2002), and Hatim and Munday (2004).
We concluded that writing and translation are cognitive processes and they empower each other. It is not avoidable that the term translation is practically near to writing activity, whereas interpretation is practically near to speaking activity. In that research, we revealed that writing a second language text is best done after translating it.
We believe that there would be “double cognitive process” in writing by employing this method. Firstly, the writer translates the text into second language, and secondly the writer rearranges the translated text into better way according to his or her second language grammar knowledge.
This research was designed as a case study. Blended-method was employed to collect and to analyze the data. More than ten undergraduate students of English department were involved and we took their text to analyze. Firstly, we asked them to write directly in English (L2 and this is called 1st text), after that, still in the similar topic of their own text, we asked them to write the same text in Indonesian (L1, we called it 2nd text) but not as a translated version of their first English text. Then we asked them to translate their Indonesian text into English (L1 to L2, we called it 3rd text), and finally we asked them to re-write their text in English based on their 3rd text (we called it 4th text).
By comparing their 1st text and 4th text, we could see very much betterment in their text, not only the grammaticality, but also the overall organization of the text. The students said that translation makes it easy to write in English rather than writing directly in English. They could re-consider the organization of ideas in the text, because they have concretized what was abstract before (their ideas in their mind) when they wrote it in their mother tongue.
However, we thought about the size of the text. Our research was conducted in short-term text; therefore we doubt that this method could run smoothly in the long-term text. Here, it is open to the researcher who wants to test the effectiveness and efficiency of translation-based writing in their English writing classroom.

Abstract of the Research

Nurjannah Abdullah, 2013. Translation Based Writing Method: Students’ Writing Betterment and Students’ Views (Under guidance of Zainurrahman, S.S., M.Pd).
There are many approaches, techniques, and methods can be employed in teaching students writing. However, the most appropriate or the best way is still pursued untill now by researchers. This research is one of them who wants to figure out the most appropriate and the best ways. This research investigated the effectiveness of Translation Based Writing toward the students’ writing and the students’ perception toward it. By conducting case study, this research gained data from some students’ texts and from interviewing some students in the College of Teacher Training and Education Kie Raha Ternate. It was found that Translation Based Writing is needed to be taken into consideration since the students favor it very much, and from their texts it could not be avoided that this method is effective. However, one disadvantage has been found, that was, this method might take a very long time and energy in terms of long text writing.

Keywords: translation based writing, students’ writing betterment, students’ views


Bassnett, S. (2002). Translation Studies. Routledge. London.
Cresswell, J. W. (1997). Qualitative Inquiry and Research Design: Choosing Among Five Traditions. Sage Publication. International Educational and Professional Publisher. Thousand Oaks. London and New Delhi.
Flower, L., & Hayes, J. R. (1981). A Cognitive Process Theory of Writing. College Composition and Communication, Vol. 32. No. 4, (Dec., 1981). Pp 365-387.
Galko, F. D. (2001). Better Writing Right Now: Using Words to Your Advantage. Learning Express Publisher.
Hatim, B. & Munday, J. (2004). Translation: An Advanced Resource Book. Routledge. London.
Manser, M. H. (2006). Guide to Good Writing. Facts on File Library.
Munday, J. (2001). Introducing Translation Studies: Theories and Applications. Routledge. London.
Radford, A. (2009). An Introduction to English Sentence Structure. Cambridge University Press.
Radford, A. et al (2009). Linguistics: An Introduction- Second Edition. Cambridge University Press.
Silverman, D. (2005). Doing Qualitative Research: A Practical Handbook. Sage Publication. London. Thousand Oaks. New Delhi.
Zainurrahman (2011). Menulis: Dari Teori hingga Praktik (Penawar Racun Plagiarisme). Alfabeta. Bandung.

4 thoughts on “Translation-Based Writing Method

  1. I’m pleased to have found your blog through a Google search…I’m an M.A. in TESOL student (2nd year) at the Univ. of San Francisco. A good friend of mine from San Jose, CA is in Indonesia teaching ESL this year so I’ve passed your address along to her.

  2. Hi, Zainurrahman. I am eviliana from Palembang. I accidently found your blog while i was searching for theories of translation. After reading the description of what you and your friend cultivated on translation-based writing method, at first I thought it might be very interesting but here I think would be better if you specify which writing you mean here. Some types of writing acquire creativity of the writer to pursue, inform, argue, etc. meanwhile in writing the result of your translation process you must keep the conveyed meaning of the source text. A good translater is the one who can maintain the style of source text.

  3. I think that Eviliana misunderstood this text. This text means “translating your own writing” so you create your source text, and then you translate it yourself. This article tends to show an easier way to write, not to translate. Thanks.

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