Cross-Cultural Thinking Through Translation and Interpretation

Project Director: Sonia Colina (University of Arizona)

In partnership with the National Center for Interpretation and the Department of Spanish & Portuguese at the University of Arizona.

Translation and interpretation (T&I), understood in its broad sense of language mediation, is beneficial to all language learning as it brings to the foreground linguistic and cultural rich points. In this way, T&I instruction integrates critical, cross-cultural and transcultural thinking in the language curriculum in an engaging and relevant way and can incorporate multiple literacies by including visual and multimedia components (e.g. film subtitling, marketing, etc.). As an approach to language teaching, T&I can also contribute to the preparation and professional development of the future bilingual workforce by introducing students to ways of using their bilingual skills (through specialized training and education) in the workplace and in many of their chosen careers. This project introduces translation and interpreting components in the high school foreign and second language curriculum in partnership with school districts in the Tucson area and ultimately throughout the US. The program builds on the success of the UA’s National Center for Interpretation’s Preparación program, which has proven results for increasing Latino students’ engagement with and interest in education

The Cross-Cultural Thinking Through Translation and Interpretation project has:

  • Created activities and lessons to implement in high school Spanish classrooms, designed to integrate translation and interpretation into the FL classroom (there will be translated versions for instructors working in other languages);
  • Developed an implementation guide for teachers, curriculum developers, and administrators to use this set of resources in their classrooms;
  • Conducted teacher workshops and webinars, to train educators in the use of these materials. A professional development webinar took place in May, 2021, the recording for which is below, and additional workshops took place online in Fall 2021 and in person in Spring 2022.


➣ View the free publication, Incorporating Translation in the World Language Classroom: A Teacher’s Guide to Best Practice, by Sonia Colina and Sarah Albrecht.

The five sections in this volume include (1) the historical background of translation in the classroom, (2) a justification of the reintroduction of translation in the classroom, (3) an overview of how to incorporate translation into the classroom, (4) lesson plans with explanations for how to use them, and (5) a series of additional translation activities for educators to apply on their own.


➣ A professional development webinar in May, 2021, was presented by Dr. Sonia Colina and Sarah Albrecht. It aided teachers in understanding the historical context that banned translation, the justification for its reintroduction, and the roles translation can serve in language learning.  Participants were guided through sample activities and learned basic steps to design translation activities that meet their learning goals. See the presentation slides here, and the recording here: