Should we translate target language into first language while teaching foreign languages? Please comment.
I think it's generally better to enter the mindset of the target language and stay there. If you can't find a word, you mime, draw, act, explain, etc., which helps in the long run.
On the other hand, I've read that some people consider it okay to use short, quick words or phrases in the native language to avoid spending too much time trying to explain certain concepts. If someone doesn't recognize the word 'loom', it could take a while to explain it in the target language, vs. simply saying the word in the native language so they immediately get it, and then repeating in the target language. I usually lean more towards drawing or acting.
My concern with that teaching method is that the goal is to move away from dependence on translation. It's fairly well known that immersion techniques are far more successful, and while being able to speak to a student or write to a student in their native language may seem like a blessing, it ends up being more of a crutch than anything else.
Most leading language curriculums and softwares don't recommend that method. For example, Rosetta Stone, the program I'm using to guide my Dutch education, uses absolutely no English. Instead, it uses visual and audible cues to assist in my recognition of Dutch vocabulary and sentences. It's basically contextual immersion, which I find to be highly successful. Using pictures is especially helpful in connecting basic, universal ideas to foreign vocabulary and syntax.
This is one method of teaching and it is called the Grammar Translation method. Different methods of teaching should be used - you need to teach pronunciation, grammar, new vocabulary, listening comprehension, intonation, writing skills, etc.