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Sunday, 19 May 2013

BA programs (Translation Majors) in the Gulf Countries



Few months ago, and as part of my ongoing PhD research enquiry, I was surveying the universities which deliver degrees, diplomas or certificates in Translation (and languages) in the Arab world. I was checking their websites and see : 1) if they have a course outline displaying the objectives, types of activities and assessment methods designed by faculty (or the institution ) to that specific course in translation (or interpreting); 2) if they have them, I went to examine these elements (objectives, activities and assessment methods) to check if there is an alignment between them or not (in other words: if faculty or any stakeholder involved in this course design is/are consciously and aware of the various dimensions and implications of these designed elements). Above all, implications on students learning outcomes ( I mean meaningful and significant learning outcomes, such as applying what they learnt and creating something out of it on their own).


First round of this informal survey led us to conclude that :

  • Apart from very scarce universities/colleges in the Gulf countries, most of Translation or English and Translation departments have no anounced Course Outlines on their websites at all (Check Atari ( 2012); Buhmaid (1995)) on that matter. We believe, and for the sake of enhancing quality teaching/learning in the program, to display CLEAR and FUNCTIONAL/DOABLE course outlines that will give an idea about the type of teaching philosophy/approach adopted in that specific education context for translator training and weather teaching is teacher or student centred. This is an important criteria nowadays in Higher Education. Translation is a very mutifaceted discipline and it makes sense to design appropriate domain specific pedagogies to be taught and learnt.

  • The contents of the surveyed translation programs seem to be geared more and more into teaching( rather than training or coaching). It is OK to teach first and second year translation students lecture based contents, but not the third year or finalists.This could be a case in the Arab World, but here in Canada soon after semester 2, students engage in the real world of translation and receive a mix of teaching at the university and training at their place of internship. Context may decide the type of pedagogical  planning we need to decide on .

  •  I also noticed the amount of theory taught in the contents of these programs. This will not be helpful in the case of training future translation professionals. There is a lack of real world factor in those programs ( I hardly saw courses on ''Research methods and Documentation for translators'', '' terminology extraction '' , ''language technologies'', '' revision", '' courses on professional aspects of translation'', '' project management for translators''........................etc. It is high time to renew the contents.

  • As per the pedagogical part, I am not sure yet whether  teachers (faculty) base their classroom intervention on educational approaches/models specific to translator training/ translation teaching at all ( like socio-constructivism (Kiraly, 2000, 2003), constructivism) or active pedagogies to organise practical translation work like the Problem Based Approach PBL (Cormier, 2007), or the Project Based Approach (Gouadec, 2007; Kiraly 2003, 2012).


Due to space limits, I will limit my preliminary remarks on the above four points. Perhaps I can leave the remaining points to be discussed in another post.


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