Educational Science

Writing Papers in a Foreign Language

Stephanie Hofschlaeger/

Normally I love writing. I use to start my day doing about three sites of free-writing and this got a routine which helps me solving problems and finding their sources.

Since the beginning of this year I am writing these pages in English as I want to get used to reflect and think and write in English and to benefit from the routine in writing my M.A. Thesis. First it seemed to be time-consuming but I feel that with each day I am getting more routine and am able to write more fluently.

Yesterday I wanted to work on my M.A. Thesis in the late afternoon and decided to do “just” translations of already written German chapters; as I was not in the mood to be creative. It turned out to be much more time-consuming and much more complicated than I had hoped. I thought that – after reading and writing so regularly in English – it would be easy-going, but it wasn’t. I know … or think … it is because translating in this case was the attempt to translate sentence by sentence and to translate phrasing that cannot be translated 1:1 from German to English.

In German I write in a very sophisticated and often (too) complex way and this does not fit English texts. Maybe it would be easier to write by trying just to translate the general meaning of the paragraphs or by just reading the German parts and remembering the content and then to write about it in English, without looking at the German words and phrases; this is how I am free-writing; I do not think in German and translate, but I get used to think in English while writing. But this cannot work by having “final German sentences” in my mind.

How are you dealing with this “translation-problem” when writing English paper and not being native speakers? I would be happy to read about strategies and ideas how to solve this question efficiently.

For my part, today I will try to do as described above.

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