From the Lab to the Classroom and Back Again

Perspectives on Translation and Interpreting Training

by Celia Martín de León (Volume editor) Víctor González-Ruiz (Volume editor)
©2016 Monographs X, 369 Pages


This collection of essays brings to the fore some of the most pressing concerns in the training of translators and interpreters. It does so by acknowledging the primary role of research in both the development and the results of that training. The eleven chapters of the book, authored by a range of established international scholars, touch on the interlocking nature of didactics and research and address advances in cognitive processes, quality assessment and socio-professional issues with regard to their significance for translation and interpreting training. With this volume, the editors aim to illustrate some of the most recent insights into the interplay between scientific progress and the educational stages of prospective translators and interpreters.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author(s)/editor(s)
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • List of Figures
  • List of Tables
  • Acknowledgements
  • Víctor González-Ruiz and Celia Martín de León - Introduction: Between Teaching and Research in Translation and Interpreting
  • Franz Pöchhacker - 1 The Teacher as Researcher: Notes on a Productive Relationship
  • Javier Franco Aixelá - 2 Bibliometrics of Research in the Didactics of Translation and Interpreting
  • Alicia Bolaños-Medina - 3 Translation Psychology within the Framework of Translator Studies: New Research Perspectives and Pedagogical Implications
  • Inna Kozlova, Marisa Presas And Shao Hui Liang - 4 East and West: The Influence of Culture on Key Concepts of Students’ Translation Theories
  • Álvaro Marín García - 5 Scattered Clouds: Creativity in the Translation Process
  • Tomás Conde - 6 Positive Feedback in Translation Assessment
  • Petra Klimant - 7 Translation Evaluation Upside Down: Phenomena Instead of Errors
  • Mara Morelli And Elena Errico - 8 Situated Quality in Consecutive Interpreting: A Case Study on Trainees
  • Ana Muñoz-Miquel - 9 Bridging the Gap between Professional Practice and University Training through Socio-Professional Research: The Case of Medical Translation
  • Agustín Darias-Marrero - 10 Cultural and Intercultural Aspects in Interpreter Training: An ICT-Based Approach
  • Bryan J. Robinson, María Dolores Olvera-Lobo And Juncal Gutiérrez-Artacho - 11 After Bologna: Learner- and Competence-Centred Translator Training for “Digital Natives”
  • Notes on Contributors
  • Index
  • Series index

| vii →


Figure 3.1: Outline of Translator Studies

Figure 4.1: Key words for the Chinese students

Figure 4.2: Key words for the western students

Figure 6.1: Percentage of total reactions in all groups

Figure 6.2: Percentage of positive reactions by group

Figure 6.3: Declaration of assessor strategy, by group

Figure 6.4: Spread of grades awarded and types of reaction, by text

Figure 6.5: Premise of normality for the regression

Figure 6.6: Premise of homoscedasticity for the regression

Figure 6.7: Spread of grade awarded and types of reaction, by assessor

Figure 6.8: Percentage of subjects who claim to distinguish between errors according to importance

Figure 6.9: Correlation spread (positive and very negative reactions)

Figure 6.10: Distinguishing between errors according to importance, by group

Figure 7.1: Comparison of evaluation systems

Figure 8.1: Average scores (all respondents and respondents who did not speak Spanish)

Figure 8.2: Verbal and non-verbal parameters (average scores)

Figure 8.3: Para-verbal parameters (average scores)

Figure 8.4: Global parameters (average scores)

Figure 8.5: Negative impressions (%) ← vii | viii →

Figure 8.6: Positive impressions (%)

Figure 9.1: Graduate-level education received

Figure 9.2: Years of experience in medical translation

Figure 9.3: Proportion of expert and non-expert respondents distributed according to their academic profile

Figure 9.4: Percentage of work activity devoted to medical translation

Figure 9.5: Language combinations that the translators had worked with

Figure 9.6: Tasks related to medical translations that were performed by the respondents

Figure 9.7: Subjects translated

Figure 9.8: Genres translated

Figure 9.9: Types of customers that the translators had worked for

Figure 9.10: Aims of self-taught training

Figure 9.11: Mean scores of aspects that entail the greatest difficulty

Figure 9.12: Mean scores of the frequency with which particular resources were used

Figure 9.13: Mean scores of the competences required by customers and employers according to the opinions given by the respondents

Figure 9.14: Percentage of the respondents who had worked in collaboration with other professionals to have their medical translations reviewed

Figure 9.15: Reasons for having their medical translations reviewed

Figure 11.1: The original PATT design (Olvera-Lobo et al. 2007)

Figure 11.2: The revised PATT design

Figure 11.3: The extended PATT design

| ix →


Table 2.1: The relative presence of handbooks in TS didactics

Table 2.2: The relative presence of didactics in TS research

Table 2.3: The relative presence of TS modes in didactic research (1991–2015)

Table 2.4: Most cited works (1991–2015) on the didactics of Translation and Interpreting

Table 2.5: Most cited practical handbooks (1991–2015)

Table 4.1: Codes for the classification of utterances

Table 4.2: The concept of translation

Table 4.3: The concept of function

Table 4.4: The role of the translator

Table 4.5: The addressee

Table 7.1: Phenomena categorization (based on Conde Ruano 2009)

Table 9.1: Other competences valued by customers and employers

Table 11.1: Thinking skills: The traditional order vs a new order for the digital era (Churches 2013)

Table 11.2: Digital era thinking skills and equivalent online media (Churches 2013)

Table 11.3: General and specific competences included in the Libro Blanco (Agencia Nacional de Evaluación de la Calidad y Acreditación 2004. Authors’ translation)

Table 11.4: Basic scaffolding of a two-week team translation project ← ix | x →

Table 11.5: Criterion descriptors to assess translation quality (Robinson 1998, 2005)

Table 11.6: Descriptors moderating translation quality assessment

Table 11.7: Descriptors for peer assessment of visual and oral presentations

Table 11.8: Descriptors for tutor assessment of individual written report

Table 11.9: Descriptors for self- and peer assessment of collaborative teamwork

Table 11.10: Characteristics that distinguish Digital Natives from Digital Immigrants (Prensky 2001a, 2001b)

| xi →


This book has been published with financial support from the Departamento de Filología Moderna and the Facultad de Traducción e Interpretación of the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain.

| 1 →


Introduction: Between Teaching and Research in Translation and Interpreting

As in many other professional areas, the training of translators and interpreters-to-be is expected to go hand in hand with the progress of research in the field. We could say that, to a degree, this is in fact the case. Teaching and learning experiences often act as a trigger for progress in the discipline, which, in turn, usually finds its way back into the classroom in many ways (e.g. curricula design, teaching methodology, even the more down-to-earth, logistic aspects of training). Most researchers in this area are also involved in teaching activities at higher education institutions, which further reinforces this idea. This volume, a collection of articles selected from papers presented at the Sixth International Conference of the Iberian Association of Translation and Interpreting Studies (AIETI), held in January 2013 in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain, attempts to bring to the fore some of the most pressing concerns in the training of the future generations of translators and interpreters. And it does so by acknowledging the primal role of research in both the shaping and the effects of that training.

This relationship is particularly evident in the first section of the book, where the authors reflect on the interlocking nature of didactics and research, the former fuelling the advances in the latter, and vice versa. Such mutual feedback can also be seen in the subsequent sections of this volume, where cognitive approaches, quality assessment and socio-professional issues are examined from the perspective of translation and interpreting training in ways that attest to their relevance to research. However, this collection of articles is not the outcome of a deliberate or accurately designed call for papers but we have nonetheless attempted to arrange them carefully as a random diorama of the different ways translation and interpreting scholars view the educational side of their branch of knowledge. Our ← 1 | 2 → task as editors has been to put the book together very much as a biologist would describe living organisms: firstly, by observing how differing circumstances and attitudes to training are spontaneously made explicit in a natural environment for scholars (i.e. a general conference on the subject); and secondly, by assembling a sample of the most representative works on training as an activity inextricably linked to scientific progress.

Didactics and research

One of the simplest folk (or novice) models of the interface between teaching and research depicts research as knowledge generation, and teaching as knowledge transmission. From this perspective, the relationship between didactics and scientific study is limited to using research developments to update the knowledge to be transmitted in the classroom. However, the actual ties seem to be much more complex than this model would suggest. In the 1990s, as a response to previous failed attempts to establish a quantitative correlation between research productivity and teaching quality (see, e.g., Quamar uz Zaman 2004), a number of qualitative studies addressed the conditions required to create a positive link between these two factors (for an overview, see Simon and Elen 2007). The premise for this qualitative approach is a constructivist conception of education, where the research-teaching relationship is defined as dynamic and context-dependent: it is not a single, easily quantifiable nexus, but rather “a complex, multifaceted construct” (Kinchin and Hay 2007: 44). This new model views knowledge as subjective and dependent on interpretation and negotiation, and focuses on learning and conceptual change instead of on teaching and knowledge transmission. From this standpoint, both research and learning are activities engaged in the construction of meaning and negotiation within a social context, and the development of a positive relationship between the two should be fostered in order to meet the aims of higher education.

Simon and Elen (2007) criticized this model, which they labelled as functional, because it regards research as a tool that develops the skills ← 2 | 3 → society requires, and proposed an alternative, idealistic approach that goes back to the German Humboldtian tradition and that, at university level, does not establish a rigorous distinction between teaching, learning and researching. In this approach, scholars do not have a fixed body of knowledge to transmit to students, but rather are involved in an ongoing process of academic inquiry in which students also participate. This inquiry, as a search for truth, is at the same time a process of general education or edification (Bildung). In our view, if the idealistic Humboldtian project has left a mark in our highly specialized university, it is to be found in the approaches that perceive the research-teaching relationship as dynamic, and multidimensional. The field of translation and interpreting is a complex area with many different specialized branches, and research in this area is also varied and multifaceted. Furthermore, research in Translatology, defined as the empirical and scientifically minded subset of Translation Studies, by definition entails a functional dimension: it is oriented to the description, explanation and improvement of processes and products (Muñoz Martín 2008: 66), and one of its aims is to improve training and expertise development. A good example of the symbiotic relationship between teaching and research can be found in the empirical studies on the translation process that started in the 1980s; initially motivated by pedagogical concerns, their tools, methods and results have, in turn, had a noteworthy influence on training activities and approaches.

In the first chapter of this volume, Franz Pöchhacker looks at the bond between teaching and research in the field of interpreting, focusing on the figure of the Spanish teacher and researcher Jesús Sanz. Pöchhacker offers an insightful reflection on various aspects of this relationship in higher education from a broad historical perspective, across structural, epistemological, methodological, pedagogical and personal dimensions. His contribution may be read as a second introduction to the book centred on the area of interpreting. In the second chapter, Javier Franco Aixelá examines the impact of training topics on research publications within our field from both diachronic and synchronic perspectives. He does so by looking into BITRA, perhaps the best and definitely the largest (over 60,000 entries) bibliographic database in our field, hosted by the University of Alicante, Spain. He depicts an overwhelming significance of training as an object ← 3 | 4 → of study in both books and journals, and sketches the approaches, the languages and the topics most recurrent in these studies.

Cognitive and psychological perspectives

Since their initial steps in the second half of the past century, modern Translation Studies have drawn upon the achievements of different disciplines, bringing with them their own perspectives, models, methods, tools, and foci of interest. Psycholinguistic and cognitive approaches can be said to have pioneered empirical research in interpreting and translation, putting processes under the spotlight. As Pöchhacker reminds us, Jesús Sanz was a teacher and researcher whose interest in learning and cognitive development led him to carry out the first empirical study on professional interpreting (Sanz 1930). His study was a survey among professional interpreters, but Sanz was nevertheless a pioneer in this field, and most of the aspects he focused on are still been researched today, such as the abilities and skills required for working as professional interpreters and their acquisition.

As one of the conclusions of his inquiry on the impact of publications, Franco Aixelá notes that process studies seem to be the most influential approach in translation and interpreting didactics. After a first series of empirical works on simultaneous interpreting carried out by psychologists and psycholinguists during the 1960s and 1970s, the first attempts to approach interpreting and translation from a cognitive standpoint (Seleskovitch 1968; Lederer 1973) tried to meet pedagogical needs (Muñoz Martín 2015). These approaches relied on introspection, in the Chomskyan tradition, and not on experimental research. However, most empirical research developed since the 1980s within cognitive approaches was also driven by pedagogical concerns (House 2000: 152; Massey and Ehrensberger-Dow 2011: 158).

Over the past decades, empirical research into translation and interpreting as cognitive activities has experienced a continuous growth. Since the mid-1980s and during the early 1990s, following the pioneering work ← 4 | 5 → by Krings (1986), think aloud techniques (Ericsson and Simon 1984) were the main method used to look into the translator’s black box, and they were also applied to translator training (Kußmaul 1995; House 2000). These and other researchers – including Hönig (1995) and Kiraly (1995) – studied the translation process in order to apply their findings to translator and interpreter training. At the same time, the field of interpreting witnessed a reorientation to empirical research (Lambert 1989; Lambert and Moser-Mercer 1994). These early studies adopted a psycholinguistic perspective and were inspired by first generation cognitive approaches, which understood cognition as information processing and translation as problem solving (Muñoz Martín 2015).


X, 369
ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2016 (April)
translation interpreting translation training didactics interpreting training
Oxford, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, New York, Wien, 2016. XII, 370 pp., 38 b/w ill., 22 tables

Biographical notes

Celia Martín de León (Volume editor) Víctor González-Ruiz (Volume editor)

Celia Martín de León teaches translation at the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. She has been a freelance translator since 1990 and obtained her PhD in Translation and Interpreting in 2003. Her main research interest is the study of translation processes from the viewpoint of embodied, embedded and distributed cognition. Since 2002 she has belonged to the research group Expertise and Environment in Translation (PETRA), devoted to empirical research into translation processes. Víctor González-Ruiz is a lecturer in legal translation at the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, where he obtained his PhD in Translation in 2002. For the past twenty years, he has also worked as a part-time official translator and interpreter in Spain. He is particularly committed to achieving clarity in legal translations and has made it the focus of his teaching and research. He is a member of the Spain-based TeLL research group, which is engaged in studying new technologies and their link to the fields of language and translation.


Title: From the Lab to the Classroom and Back Again