Understanding Translator Education

by Łukasz Bogucki (Volume editor) Paulina Pietrzak (Volume editor) Michal Kornacki (Volume editor)
©2018 Edited Collection 220 Pages
Series: Łódź Studies in Language, Volume 60


The volume, which is a highly recommended reading for translators, translation scholars and particularly translator educators, displays an impressive array of statements on current translator education. It is both comprehensive and versatile, inspiring and critical. Eleven articles comprised in the collection present perspectives from various educational environments and deal with pertinent theoretical, practical and methodological issues, such as translation evaluation methods, self-reflection, linguistic theories in service of the process of translation, translation thinking and creativity, AVT, eye-tracking logs as enhancement of the learning process, target projects and translation discourse, Facebook as communication platform, cross-cultural reconceptualisation and translator competence. The topics are relevant and ideas directly transferable to the translation classroom.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the editors
  • About the book
  • Citability of the ebook
  • Contents
  • Introduction
  • Evaluating Students in Translation Courses – Prospects and Pitfalls
  • 1 Introduction
  • 2 Why do we assess?
  • 2.1 The role of assessment in the students’ learning processes
  • 2.2 Assessment in the acquisition of translation competences
  • 3 How to evaluate individual translation assignments?
  • 3.1 To grade or not to grade?
  • 3.2 Further possibilities for evaluating translations
  • 3.2.1 Peer evaluation
  • 3.2.2 Self-evaluation in the form of translation commentaries
  • 4 Assessing the students’ overall performance in translation courses
  • 4.1 Translation exam as an assessment method
  • 4.2 Portfolio assessment
  • 4.3 Other possibilities for assessing students’ performance in translation courses
  • 5 Conclusions
  • References
  • Student Translation Performance and the Quality of Translation Commentary:: Is There Any Correlation?
  • 1 Introduction
  • 2 Reflection in learning
  • 3 Translation commentary as a reflection tool
  • 4 Research questions
  • 5 Methodology
  • 6 Setting and corpus
  • 7 Parameters of analysis
  • 8 Results
  • 9 Discussion and conclusions
  • Appendix 1
  • Guidelines for writing a translation commentary
  • References
  • Translation, Human Relationships and Lexical Choices. A Case-Study for a ‘Critical’ Cognitive Approach
  • 1 A premise
  • 2 The beginning
  • 3 Talking gay: between cognition and lexical competence. Some theoretical matters
  • 4 The research
  • 4.1 The Pedagogical context
  • 4.1 Personal experience and translation
  • 4.2 Some additional theory: CDA and CL
  • 4.3 Back to the research
  • 4 Conclusion
  • References
  • Teaching What Tends to Get Neglected – Some Ideas to Incorporate into Translation Classes
  • 1 Introduction
  • 2 New profiles required by the translation industry
  • Basic requirements
  • Specific skills
  • Language skills
  • Thematic skills
  • Translation skills
  • 3 Help students find their way in the information chaos
  • 4 Encourage students to adopt a problem-solving approach
  • 5 Help students fight the negative impact of interference in translation
  • 6 Make translation classes more attractive and memorable
  • Conclusion
  • References
  • Watching before Subtitling: Pre-Translation Tasks in the AVT Classroom
  • 1 Text analysis in teaching subtitling
  • 2 Pre-translation analysis as a separate teaching concern
  • 3 Subtitling films versus translating subtitles
  • 3 Promoting careful and structured viewing
  • 3.1 Pre-translation tasks
  • 3.2 Discreet pre-translation and translation stages
  • 3.3 Translation tasks
  • 4 Summary
  • References
  • TPR as a Window to What Translators Actually Do: Eye-Tracking Logfiles in the Translation Classroom
  • 1 Introduction: process research methods in translation and translator training
  • 2.1 Introspective and retrospective protocols
  • 2.2 Screen recording and keystroke logging
  • 2.3 Complimentary process research methods
  • 2.3.1 Contextual inquiry
  • 2.3.2 Personality profiling
  • 2.3.3 Physiological measurements
  • 3 Eye-tracking in translator training
  • 3.1 Challenges of introducing eye-tracking into the translation classroom
  • 3.2 Replaying a logfile generated by a professional translator
  • 3.3 Areas of interest in a professional translator logfile replay
  • 3.3.1 Fixation analysis
  • 3.3.2 Implications of gaze duration
  • 3.3.3 Predicting fixation location and duration
  • 3.3.4 Picturing gaze plots
  • 4 Conclusion
  • References
  • Noun Phrases as a Key Problem in the Early Stages of Polish-English Translation Training
  • 1 Introduction
  • 2 Major problems with NP structure in Polish-English translation
  • 2.1 English noun premodifiers
  • 1) Insufficient familiarity with the noun ± noun sequence
  • 2) Improper use of compound adjectives with numbers
  • 3) Insufficient familiarity with various functions of attributive genitives
  • 4) Wrong placement of the attributive genitive within the NP
  • 2.2 Elaborate noun phrases
  • 2.3 Nominalised structures
  • 3 Conclusion
  • References
  • A Greek Translational Corpus: Discourse of Translation and on Translation
  • 1 Corpora in translator training
  • 1.1 Translational Corpora
  • 1.2 Greek corpora
  • 1.3 The SOURCE Project
  • 2 Overview of the TARGET Project
  • 2.1 Principles and Methodology
  • 2.2 Content of the TARGET Corpus
  • 3 Innovative features of the TARGET Project
  • 4 Further development and future perspectives
  • References
  • Translators’ Communication and Cooperation on the Internet. A Case Study of Selected Polish Thematic Groups on Facebook
  • 1 Study aims
  • 2 Internet communication in translators’ practice and training
  • 2.1 Social networks in professional career
  • 2.2 Social media in education
  • 3 Case study: Selected Polish social media interest groups for practicing translators and interpreters
  • 3.1 The choice of material
  • 3.2 Popular Polish Facebook groups devoted to translation as a profession
  • 3.3 Structure of thematic groups on Facebook
  • 3.4 Discussion topics
  • 4 Related Facebook groups
  • 5 Potential didactic applications
  • 6 Final remarks
  • References
  • Cross-Cultural Re-Conceptualization as a Key Part of Translation Competence Development: A Case Study of I’m lovin’ it
  • 1 Introduction
  • 2 Controversy around the slogan “I’m lovin’ it”
  • 3 A cultural dimension of love
  • 4 Polysemy of love
  • 5 The meaning of love in English and Polish
  • 6 Polish translations of I’m lovin’ it
  • 6.1 Submitted proposals
  • 7 Cultural re-conceptualizations of I’m lovin’ it in translation
  • 8 Conclusions
  • References
  • Project Management: Defining Competences for Translator Training
  • 1 Introduction
  • 2 Defining Competences for Translation Project Managers
  • 3 Project Management Competences in Translation and Interpreting Curricula in Spanish Universities
  • 4 Integrating Project Management as a Cross-Curricular Competence
  • 5 Concluding Remarks
  • References
  • About the Contributors
  • Łódź Studies in Language

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Translator education is a concept that defies definition and requires comprehensive analysis in order to be appreciated. Firstly, translators of poetry, film, technical texts, and legal documents can only be educated together up to a very early stage, when the respective skills that they need to acquire become too diverse to be accountable within the same classroom setting. Secondly, education can be carried out as part of B.A. / M.A. language studies (a typical scenario in Poland and many other European countries), supplementary courses, postgraduate studies, online study programmes, exchange programmes, practical placements, as well as self-study. The thorny notion of translation competence has yielded multiple taxonomies and quite a bit of confusion when it comes to distinguishing it from language competence. The concept of natural translation runs counter to the very idea of translator education, the argument being that translation is an activity that is feasible without any (formal) training whatsoever. The usefulness (or rather lack thereof) of translation theory in training translators is the subject of many an academic debate. Once the rationale behind translator education has been established, though, another question remains – who is qualified to offer the training, since professional translators are seldom interested, while academics tend to have degrees in language or literature, rather than translation? Even assuming that there is qualified and experienced staff, will the training fit in the fossilised constraints of academic curricula and the often inadequate or outdated infrastructure?

Ten years ago, the University of Łodź began a series of conferences under the title “Teaching Translation and Interpreting”, aimed as a forum for discussing the theory and practice of teaching translation, training translators, and translation curricula. The first four meetings (in 2008, 2009, 2011, and 2014) resulted in volumes of proceedings that have significantly contributed to the understanding of translator education and to the development of this topic within the literature on Translation Studies. The contents of the present volume are largely made up of papers delivered during the fifth meeting in the series in 2017.

The major objective behind this volume is to investigate current theoretical and methodological aspects of translator education. It includes 11 chapters that report on research from various educational environments and opens with the chapter by Mari Pakkala-Weckström and Juha Eskelinen who discuss and analyse ←7 | 8→various methods of evaluating both individual translation assignments and students’ overall performance in academic courses. Sonja Kitanovska-Kimovska follows with an analysis of the correlation between student performance in translation and the quality of their self-reflective translation commentary. Francesca Vigo devotes her chapter to the discussion on how Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) and Cognitive Linguistics (CL) can affect the process of translation by bringing to light hidden meanings and lexical choices. In the fourth chapter, Karolina Puchała-Ładzińska advocates teaching what tends to get neglected, promoting creativity and thinking outside the box. Next, Dorota Guttfeld takes a look at audiovisual translation and the need for teaching careful and structured viewing of the source material – a prerequisite to (self)coherent subtitling. Paulina Pietrzak and Michał Kornacki discuss how eye-tracking log files can be used in the translation classroom and how they can enhance the translator training process. Marcin Lewandowski draws attention to the problem of syntactic interference from the source language in translations performed by university students. He emphasises the need for contrastive grammar approach in the translation training, especially at the beginning of the process. Eleni Tziafa, Mavina Pantazara, Olympia Tsaknaki and Katerina Alexandri outline the TARGET Project which aims to provide a set of corpora as a linguistic and pedagogical resource for translation studies and translator training, covering all aspects of translation discourse. Monika Linke-Ratuszny raises the issue of translators’ communication and cooperation on the Internet, with particular interest paid to Facebook as a communication medium. Jacek Tadeusz Waliński discusses cross-cultural re-conceptualisation as a key part of translation competence on the basis of 45 proposals submitted by Polish translators for rendering the meaning of the slogan “I’m lovin’ it.” Finally, the notion of competence is further developed by Cristina Plaza-Lara who makes an attempt at defining the competences of translation project managers.

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Mari Pakkala-Weckström and Juha Eskelinen

Evaluating Students in Translation Courses – Prospects and Pitfalls

Abstract: Our chapter aims to discuss and analyse various evaluation and assessment methods used in evaluating both individual translation assignments and students’ overall course performances in higher education translator training. It would appear that evaluation methods often fall into the sphere of ‘tacit knowledge’, i.e. teachers develop and apply their own evaluation tools, but these are seldom actively or publicly shared. We start by briefly discussing the impact of assessment on student learning in general, and in particular as related to translation competences. We discuss different approaches to evaluating assignments, for example grading vs not grading; forms of teacher feedback; self-evaluation and peer evaluation. In regard to assessing course performance, we discuss methods such as continuous assessment; end-of-course exams; and various combinations thereof. Throughout the paper, we include a student perspective on evaluation by citing student feedback. We conclude that while different methods can be successfully applied at various stages of translator training, all evaluation should be designed along the lines of constructive alignment.

Keywords:translation evaluation method, translator training, translation course assessment, constructive alignment, translation competences

1 Introduction

In this chapter, we shall discuss various methods of both evaluating and assessing students in translator training programmes in higher education, and particularly in translation courses within these programmes. In this context, we shall use the term evaluate to refer to evaluating individual course assignments, and the term assess to refer to the numerical grade the students will be given after completing the course.

This chapter is a continuation of an earlier study (Eskelinen & Pakkala-Weckström 2016), which focused on the overall assessment of students’ performance in translation courses. In this study, we include the element of evaluating individual translation assignments. Our findings are based on our personal experience as instructors of both BA and MA translation courses at the University of Helsinki for over a decade, and our co-operation and discussions of teaching methods with colleagues working in other Finnish institutions training translators. Indeed, based on these shared experiences, a major driver behind ←9 | 10→this chapter is our belief that a great deal of knowledge on various assessment methods seems to exist only as ‘tacit knowledge’ which should be brought into light and discussed. We believe that this study will serve to increase transparency in assessment and evaluation in translator training, as well provide tools for instructors.

Additionally, since we feel that it is vital to also consider the points of view of the assessed, we are drawing material from student feedback received from 2013 to 2016, from five different English to Finnish translation courses (Professional Translation II, autumn 2013, 7 students; 2015, 12 students; and 2016, 23 students; Specialised Translation, Science 2016, 10 students; Specialised Translation, Literature 2016, 9 students). This feedback was collected from the students’ end-of-course portfolios, which include both reflective self-evaluation and feedback on the course and its practices (see also Eskelinen & Pakkala-Weckström 2016). Not all feedback dealt with the issues we are addressing in this study, but we have tried to take into account all relevant comments.

First, we shall discuss the importance of evaluation, in particular from the students’ perspective, and describe different methods of evaluation. Then, we shall discuss and describe various methods of evaluating individual translation assignments, after which we shall discuss the overall assessment of students’ performance in translation courses.

2 Why do we assess?

Assessment should not be understood only as the end point of a learning process where a teacher grades the students, or as regular check points during a course where the learning achieved is measured. We see assessment as a central, interactive activity that guides the whole learning process. It provides information for the teacher about the success of the teaching, and for the students on their own goal setting and the effort required in studying. In this section we will look at the central role assessment has in the learning process, and how it guides the acquisition of translator competences.

2.1 The role of assessment in the students’ learning processes

Since assessment regulates learning, it should, regardless of the actual method, be constructively aligned, i.e. tied to intended learning outcomes (see, e.g. Biggs & Tang 2011: 11; Bloxham 2015: 109; Kiraly 2003). Assessment defines what students consider important, and how they allocate their time (Brown, Bull & Pendlebury 1997: 7). Effective assessment should always include the following ←10 | 11→dimensions: (1) purposes, (2) methodologies, (3) agency, (4) timing, and (5) orientation (Brown 2015: 110).

The purposes of assessment are manifold, including motivating the students, providing feedback on their strengths and weaknesses, predicting their success in future employment etc., and, on the other hand, also providing feedback to the instructors about how their teaching can be developed (Brown, Bull & Pendlebury 1997: 11). Assessment methods that help in guiding and facilitating learning, monitoring learning and developing the teaching process can be categorised as diagnostic; formative, that is assessment during the learning process or a course; and summative, or end-of-course assessment (Huertas Barros & Vine 2017: 3; Kelly 2005: 133; Martínez Melis & Hurtado Albir 2001: 277). Even though formative and summative assessment are often seen as mutually exclusive, according to Sally Brown (2015: 128) they can also support each other so that the summative grade contains a formative element which provides the students with information on which areas they should strive to develop (see section 2.2).

Assessment methods can also be categorised according to who is the person who assesses: the teacher, the student herself or her peers (see Brown 2015: 111–112; Race 2014: 93). Even though assessment performed by a teacher plays an important role in the methods we describe in this chapter, in our teaching we also try to enhance and develop self and peer-assessment in our translation classrooms (see Eskelinen & Pakkala-Weckström 2016: 324–326).

2.2 Assessment in the acquisition of translation competences

In courses aimed at honing professional translation skills, it is natural to link the intended learning outcomes to translation competences (Gonzales Davies 2004; Kelly 2005 & 2007; Eskelinen & Pakkala-Weckström 2016; EMT 2017; Huertas Barros & Vine 2017). These competences comprise the professional skills that every translator should possess, from language and information mining skills to the ability to interact professionally with clients.

Due to the wide range of competences, teaching them should be spread over several courses in such a way that more complex skills are learned after the basic skills, such as practical skills in information mining. When the intended learning outcomes and the assessment methods of the courses are aligned, teachers should carefully consider which competences will be focused on in the individual course.

When we examine the contents and intended learning outcomes of the University of Helsinki courses in relation to the EMT competence categories ←11 | 12→(EMT 2017), we note that earlier courses (Professional Translation I and II) focus on language and technology (information mining) competences. In the intermediate level courses, the focus moves on to language and culture and translation (thematic) competences. Advanced level specialised courses and learning projects include technological and service provision competences (Eskelinen & Pakkala-Weckström 2016: 317–320).

The assessment system used in our courses is continuous assessment combined with regular feedback. In this system, the final grade depends on several elements: the actual assignments, self-evaluation in the form of translation commentaries, class attendance, participation in class discussions etc. (see Eskelinen & Pakkala-Weckström 2016: 322). This continuous assessment system also combines formative and summative assessment methods and can motivate students to take part in classroom interaction and complete their exercises to the best of their ability. Through the element of self-evaluation, the students will have to take responsibility for their learning processes, and they will acquire skills that will support their professional development during their studies and in the future (Way 2008: 93). When the students assess themselves, they also practice various meta-skills connected to service provision and cultural competences.


ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2018 (December)
Translation Translator training Translator competence Students‘ awareness eye-tracking AVT
Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2018. 215 pp., 18 fig. b/w, 9 tables

Biographical notes

Łukasz Bogucki (Volume editor) Paulina Pietrzak (Volume editor) Michal Kornacki (Volume editor)

Łukasz Bogucki is Professor of English Language and Linguistics at the Institute of English Studies, University of Lodz. His research interests are in translation studies, interpreting studies, audiovisual translation, and media accessibility. He is the founder of the Intermedia audiovisual translation research group. Paulina Pietrzak is an assistant professor of linguistics; she has been affiliated with University of Łódź, Poland, since 2008. She did her PhD on translator education and developing translation competence. She teaches LGP and LSP translation and interpreting in the Department of Translation Studies. She is a freelance translator and interpreter. Her main research interests include translator training, the theory and practice of translation and interpreting and specialised languages. Michał Kornacki works as an assistant lecturer at the Department of Translation, Institute of English Studies, University of Łódź, Poland. His primary area of research is translator education. He focuses on the use of technology in translator’s workshop, including computer-assisted translation (CAT) and audiovisual translation (AVT) tools.


Title: Understanding Translator Education