Calling for translation literacy: The use of covert translation in student academic writing in higher education

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When Danish university students write essays, project reports or theses in their L1, based on a reading of sources in English as an L2, a covert interlingual translation process takes place when summarizing, paraphrasing or synthesizing the sources. Unfortunately, due to poor L2 reading skills as well as general translation competences, the English source texts risk being mistranslated in such a way that they are misrepresented. Thus, I suggest that we address the need for translation literacy, this being viewed as an academic skill, a language awareness learning process and a discourse practice in the international university context, which is increasingly relying on research published in English.

Based on an empirical analysis of student academic writing, I argue that translation literacy is needed when teaching academic reading-for-writing in higher education in general. Mastering translation competences may facilitate more in-depth understanding of the foreign language sources used as well as raise students’ intercultural awareness in a multilingual world at large.
Original languageEnglish
JournalTranslation and Translanguaging in Multilingual Contexts
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)306-323
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • language transfer
  • reverse transfer
  • multi-competence
  • language awareness
  • translation in other learning contexts
  • translation strategies
  • mediation
  • English for academic purposes
  • second language acquisition studies

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