Listening As Translation: Reflections On Professional Development Work In A Cross-Cultural Setting

Document Type


Publication Date


Published In

Learning Inquiry


As part of a campus-wide response by the University of Pennsylvania to the large-scale disaster caused by the earthquake and tsunami in South Asia, a team of teacher educators and graduate students worked with teachers, teacher educators, and administrators in Banda Aceh, Indonesia during July of 2005 and 2006. Working in Indonesia highlighted for us the inadequacy of literal translation; it also highlighted the related role of deep listening in teaching and learning. This article uses vignettes from workshops in Banda Aceh to illustrate how untranslated (and untranslatable) words, concepts, contexts, gestures and silences sometimes made it difficult to develop the relationships that are central to teaching. It also explores the interconnections between translation and listening, demonstrating how listening only to the literal meanings of words in a classroom limits a teacher's ability to connect, to respond, and to engage students in thoughtful and meaningful learning.

This document is currently not available here.