Last week the optional homework was to read an article and to talk about it in class this week. I was amazed at how many students read their article in English and translated what they wanted to say to Spanish! I know this seems like it would be easier, but it’s actually not.
Reading in the language you are learning is an essential part of the process. You will learn new vocabulary, grammar, common expressions, slang, sentence structure, etc.
Translating seems like a good idea, but the reality is that the translations will more than likely be incorrect and take a tremendous amount of time. It’s much easier to pick a short article, and use a dictionary for the words you don’t know. You don’t even need to understand every word to understand the point, and then when you want to talk about it, you will be able to do so, using the appropriate vocabulary and grammar. Voila!
Now, as far as translating goes, I recommend it only when it’s necessary. If you have the opportunity to speak/read/write in Spanish, that’s the way to go. And let me add, that using translators is only for emergencies. They REALLY suck!