Using Sentence Translation to Assess Bilingual Proficiency of Bhutanese ESL Learners

Tshering Om Tamang *

Samtse College of Education, Royal University of Bhutan, Bhutan.

Dechen Choney

College of Language and Culture Studies, Royal University of Bhutan, Bhutan.

Chencho Tshering

College of Language and Culture Studies, Royal University of Bhutan, Bhutan.

Sonam Wangmo Tamang

MInistry of Education and Skills Development, Bhutan.

*Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.


This study examined translation behaviours of adult Bhutanese learners of English as a second language (L2) to assess their level of bilingual proficiency. The study used a questionnaire on bilingual profile to first determine the participant’s history, attitude, preferences and proficiency of both the participant’s first language (Dzongkha) and their second language (English). In the main task, the participants were presented with English active and passive sentences that were either plausible or implausible and asked to translate them into Dzongkha. In the second task, the direction of translation was reversed, and participants were asked to translate from Dzongkha to English. The results indicated a relatively equal performance in both translation tasks, suggesting balanced bilingualism among the participants. Results of both tasks showed a high level of accuracy in terms of active plausible sentences and a low number for passive implausible sentences translation, implying that the participants found it challenging to translate sentences when syntactic input conflicted with semantic knowledge. The participant’s tendency to perform literal translation of implausible sentences, rather than rejecting semantically implausible sentences indicated a moderate level of balanced bilinguality. Additionally, the participant’s ability to translate implausible sentences with correct syntactic structure implies that, like native speakers, these adult second language learners have access to both syntactic as well as semantic routes during sentence processing.

Keywords: Bilingualism, second language, bilingual, translation, language education

How to Cite

Tamang, T. O., Choney , D., Tshering , C., & Tamang , S. W. (2024). Using Sentence Translation to Assess Bilingual Proficiency of Bhutanese ESL Learners . Asian Journal of Language, Literature and Culture Studies, 7(2), 251–260. Retrieved from


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