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Monday, 28 December 2015

The complex profile of a translation/interpreting instructor or faculty

Being a doctoral student at the faculty of education has taught me many things related to my ongoing practise as a professional in translator education as well as a member of the translation profession community.There are many concepts and elements that are used in the social sciences (Education field: tertiary, secondary, primary, professional, on-line and continuing education) that can be transferred and used in other fields: like translation and interpreting studies. Mostly, in translator education, training, teaching and programs at large. Some of these concepts are already used in research or teaching, which make them  operational in the field of translation. Others are still to be explored, especially at the regional level (Arab world, especially at universities based in the Gulf region). Since the teaching of translation in academically based programs is a new practice in many of these countries, the research field is still virgin and many fields and elements still unexplored.

One of these elements is the teacher/faculty/instructor identity and his or her required competencies in a translation /or interpreting programs within a university context.To many, this seems a futile element. Even research in applied translation studies has neglected this factor ( Kelly, 2008). However,Things have changed in the last few years. Translation programs are booming worldwide and there is an increasing interest in creating PROFESSIONALLY ORIENTED types of programs due the impact of globalization and the need of many developing countries to align with the requirements and be part of a knowledge based society (for emerging or developing countries). That is why the case of instructor or faculty profile working in such programs should be taken seriously (Gambier, 2012), since the success of a program (translation programs) depends heavily on faculty / instructor profiles and competencies ( professional, disciplinary and pedagogical).

Due to the occupational (professional) nature of translation or interpreting, the true professional identity of the instructor or educator may raise concerns. Most often, here is the type of profiles we may find in a translation programmes:

- PhD holder in mainstream translation (with little or no averagely stretched or up-to-date professional know what and know how ). This profile is fine, but it is more likely that the educator will be assigned theoretical or semi-theoretical courses. Still, although translation is an academic discipline, reflection on practice count and students will more likely make sense of the concepts if authentic exemples and scenarios were given by the educator: again the little exposure to various types of the profession (Working in-house ( private and public sectors) as well as freelancing online and offline. This is very important in a professionally oriented type of programs, since students (traditional adult students / sometimes professionals returning to study seeking further developments) seek to have a trainer or faculty who could give sense to their learning and be able to transfer authentic and everyday knowledge into the classroom and theorise it if he she can. Professional students are quite allergic to detached theoretical concepts, so choice of content is very important. That is why having exclusively PhD holders in TS without considerable and multidimensional experience in the profession may be a critical point to review by administrators and recruiters.

- PhD holders in Language studies or comparative literature. Here, we may face a big problem due to the nature of the educators baseline education (Linguistics or Literature) which will certainly impact on his or her design, development or assessment of courses and learning (students). The educator already had an identity gained in another discipline that used to cater translation, but now translation studies developed its own frameworks and concepts, in addition to its socio-professional dimension that needs to be taken into consideration while teaching, designing or developing courses.

- MA holders in Translation with professional experience to take charge of practical courses. In this case, one needs to question their disciplinary knowledge and their pedagogical abilities. Usually, this profile may provide skills development needed in the market place, but since they have been carrying a non-academic identity for years in the profession, in addition to their lack of sound pedagogical abilities and competencies to facilitate practical courses, this may hinder the quality of the outcomes.

- Last, both teaching and translation are recognized professions ( in many countries). The translation instructor or faculty with exposure to both areas may face a double identity and juggling between the two may either develop in him a hybrid and balanced framework (like a double agent !!!!) or stick to only one identity that of teaching  or  translating to make a living. The first is desirable, while the second needs to be questioned. Here, we may face a problem when it comes to quality assurance and performance at the program or outcomes levels. In other words, how the programs graduates can contribute significantly to society after their graduation.

NB: The author discussed the above problematic in his current/ongoing doctoral research. Further and final updates shall be published in this blog after the thesis is submitted ( very soon).

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Translating Europe Forum

This is a very interesting way and strategy to mobilize all stakeholders in the translation & interpreting industry. There is a huge knowledge capital about the field that is generated from these types of forums. I wonder if there will be a way to do the same in the Arabic context: encouraging dialogue between academics, professionals, the private and public sector through platform ( online or face to face like the one organized by the Directorate of the European Union)

Translating Europe Workshop London - Dorothy Kelly

Please post your comments.

Dorothy Kelly, Implications of the EHEA (Bologna) for translator trainin...

Please post your comments.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Sharing my experience : The importance of creating and operating within a community of practice ( case of translation educators)

Discussion on course contents and design
( Course name : Multimedia Translation II)

One of the best ways to promote the field of translator education and translation studies in general is that our community of practitioners ( academics, professionals, practioners, future academic or professionals...etc) should engage in a discourse via the use of social media resources and the internet, in addition to networking in meetings, conferences, online forums ...etc. This solidarity and exchange of ideas, experiences, suggestions, initiatives and innovative approaches in either teaching, the profession or research would certainly help to empower members of the profession ( teachers or practicing professionals). Here is an example of an exchange between me and a colleague who was given a course I was teaching last semester ( Multimedia Translation II). I was teaching in that university for one semester as a visiting lecturer and I was the first to design and teach the course for that department. Myself, it was the first time I taught such course. Here is what we discussed:

Him :

".........your course content seems largely technical, which calls for having technological resources in place! It is evident that you did a challenging and hard job! 
However, I would like to share this with you and have your valuable feedback: Don't you think the course content could be geared towards highlighting the strategies employed by translators in subtitling and interpreters? I feel it would be more straightforward and practical to focus, in this higher-level course, on what translators/interpreters do and what roles they assume in the media. This can include showcasing and discussing audiovisual and online samples. I have done some research work on Reuters translation, which may be relevant here, when compared with that of other media, say, Al Jazeera. Film subtitles can be another topic, whereby cultural norms condition and constrain translation, e.g. principles of politeness.   "

My reply to him was :

 I invested quite a large amount of time and efforts to conceptualize the course in such as way. I took into consideration the student profiles/needs as well local and regional practices (profession) that I documented already in my ongoing doctoral study. The class size was another element which conditioned the design of such course  and with such activities, teaching modes and assessment tools (i.e favouring a workshop, coaching and training mode of instruction instead of predominantly providing lectures). Two out of the four enrolled students wished to study in the TII doing a Masters in AVT next year. This was also taken into perspective in the design phase. 

The ICT element was integrated in a way to align with the hands-on and coaching mode of instruction described above: I used many open e-resources that I placed on blackboard for students to refer to in order to solve  terminology and documentation problems.  I used videos to explain to students the mechanism of subtitling. At first, I did not use the subtitling software, but used educational videos to first demonstrate how manual subtitling works, and then introduced software  to train them on how to do caption (or do transcription) and then subtitle the caption. Students liked cartoons. So I used some of these (Ara/Eng) as well as some news reporting and documentary type of discourses where speed is regulated. I focused more on enhancing students instrumental and reflective competence and I provided them with the technical material highlighted above, and some of the knowledge on audiovisual translation from the literature in the field such as  Diaz, 2007).

Another phenomena that is related to audiovisual translation is audio interpreting or even video interpreting (remote interpreting). This is an ongoing practice in the profession and I felt that students needed to be introduced to that. Multimedia translation is a diverse phenomena and it is not only about subtitling as students think. To back up that practice, I referred to recent publications in the field and best practices published in professional associations sites and formal consortiums or forums.

Your plan sounds rational and clear. You may follow that mode of conceptualizing your course. The way I see it is that it makes sense for an undergraduate  minor program. You focus on comparing media samples, case studies as well as highlighted strategies and techniques. You are a translatologist and you certainly know what you will provide for the students. Such material and content you mentioned would be another way to facilitate the course, although it is different from mine.

 Did you check with Porf XXX if she addressed that point in Media I?. I remember that she mentioned that she tackled that type of  declarative knowledge in Media I and she worked mostly on written texts (newspapers, advertising, ads). But, please check with her first. What I did in Media II is to extend the course and enrich it via enhancing two practical and missing points: profession and technology element. Being a minor course, I only introduced students to these areas with no further in-depth and details that could be done, for instance, in a major or professionally oriented BA or MA program. You may also try to diagnose students needs. This might help. Only if you think you want to do it.

I think I spoke too much here, but I hope that you have a clear picture of the mechanics and ideologies pedagogical rational and intended learning outcomes/ skills) orienting the design of such course. It is up to you to model the course the way you prefer. Your proposal sounds great and it makes sense. But, please check with Prof XXX about the course Media I) to avoid redundancy or misalignment. "


Monday, 12 October 2015

Does pedagogy matter in tertiary education?: case of translator education in the Arabic context.

Does pedagogy matter in tertiary education?: the case of translator education in the Arabic context.
I recently attended a symposium at the University of Laval here in Canada about literary versus non-literary types of translation. The participants tackled the theme from various perspectives such as linguistics, sociology, profession and pedagogical or education sciences . In this reflective text, I would like to talk about an ongoing element that was raised in the discussion and on which all participants agreed upon and acknowledged. Some of the participants are well-known scholars in the field of translation studies in Canada and worldwide.

So, one of the participants contended that it is quite bizarre that they (scholars) do not pay enough attention (and , sometimes, deliberately ignore ) the importance of the pedagogical dimension in their teaching of either literary or non-literary types of translation courses to their students. In my opinion, and I presume that many of my colleagues in the field would acknowledge, this specific point has been going on for a very long time now in the university context. It goes back to the Humboldtian university model in the 18th century in Germany. This model contends on the PREDOMINANTLY research mission of the university and on the primacy of pure science over human or social sciences. Nowadays, in the 21st century, things are different. We witness a paradigm shift in higher education due to students mobilisation, internationalisation, low budgeting and fierce competition. Further, universities become closer to society and eager to respond to social as well as economic concerns to provide services for society. The university as an ivory tower is no more working. Universities do not own the monopoly of knowledge. Knowledge is everywhere.

Therefore, teaching and learning as well as ensuring that quality outcomes should be delivered put heavy pressure on universities to revise their approaches to teaching and learning in order to provide a 21st-century type of education and training for their cohorts. 

In the context of translator education, many elements need to be reconfigured. There are new concerns in translation programmes. Our recent review of the literature in the universities situated in the Arabic context, most of all Gulf-based universities, show that careful attention should be given to revising and remedying translation programs (Atari, 2012; Al-QInai, 2010; Ferghal, 2009) at the following levels:

  • Types of contents delivered or facilitated ( de-contextualised from the real life of the MULTILINGUAL SERVICE PROVIDER )
  • Program orientation and departmental identities and ideologies
  • Staff PROFILES and competencies need to be re-checked/ professionals with TRANSLATION SPECIFIC academic qualification need to be integrated into the department.
  • Lack of teaching frameworks stemmed from mainstream applied translation studies ( rather than applied linguistics, linguistics of literary/critical literary studies) and theorised ( praxis based) types of knowledge.

We add to these:

  • Reviewing the instruction /training modes for specific courses ( specialised translation, literary translation, translation studies, revision) and the feedback from students.
  • Check alignment of content, activities and assessment modes provided in the syllabus for each course and get students feedback to triangulate the facts stated in the documents or do classroom observation . This is a crucial element to scrutinise as it is closely related to quality assurance.
  • Internship needs to be an integrated part of the program, it also needs to be structured.
  • Integrating in an efficient way the technology and the professional dimensions in the curriculum and providing the human and material resources to do that.


Monday, 17 August 2015

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Saturday, 8 August 2015

How do we perceive translation and translators in the Arab world ? (Research questionnaire)

Please take 15 min of your time to reply to the below question (link provided).This questionnaire is part of a research project on the notion of translation in the Arab region. The results of this research will be used in a chapter of the World Atlas for Translation (Benjamins). When you finish your replies, please press the "Done" or "Submit" botton. Your opinion is highly valuable.

The link:

Many thanks for your cooperation.

Any questions, please contact us :

Thank you very much.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Important quote:

" Translation in language teaching has by no means the objective of educating translators; rather, it is an activity which might stimulate the cognitive potential of an adult or adolescent learner and is thus supposed to complement other activities, not to replace them" ( Little et al., 2009, p. 2)

My reflection:

The above quote refers to an ongoing issue in the orientation set in many of translation programs I informally reviewed during my doctoral work. The overall programs' objectives, for instance, in  most of translation programs at gulf-based universities is to prepare graduates for the translation market. Nevertheless, the predominant language oriented paradigm reigns over a translatorial , mediation-oriented type of knowledge and competencies that future language mediators (translators and interpreters)  will need when they start working in the real world. Developing cognitive abilities is only part or a chunk of the complex set of skills, knowledge and abilities that most professional translators do...and which we should prepare our students to do. Translation is a disciplinary area of knowledge that has been developed tremendously during the last three decades. The knowledge universe of translation as a phenomenon should be made clear to students either at undergraduate or postgraduate level. They should be introduced, on the one hand,  to the main constructs and concepts in the field and their inter-relation; and on the other hand , to their socio-economic and professional relevance.

 In our survey, we understood that the concept of translation should be re-examined amongst administrators, students and faculty alike in the region. Also, the idea of integrating translation programs in language faculties should be handled carefully and program orientation and objectives should be re-thought and not mixed with linguistics or literature studies disciplinary boundaries. A thing line disciplinary boundary ( but complimentary) need to be settled.As per Durieux (2010), translation is about translations and translators, language studies is about the study of language.

Thus, clarity in where we orient our program and providing the appropriate (qualified) human resources that could deliver such type of instruction and praxis-oriented type of knowledge and skill- set for students is a necessary hurdle to overcome and fix. Waisting students time via providing de-contextualised type of knowledge and profession oriented type of skills and abilities ( not only cognitive or linguistic) is a necessary task to do in such type of programs, otherwise these programs lose their socio-economic relevance.

We adopt in our approach a comprehensive and integrated approach to translator education whereby all the above elements are take into consideration with various degrees, but with focus on translatorial and mediation type of knowledge universe. In this case, a design based model of instruction whereby the focus is on facilitating learning environments rather then transmission of knowledge is ideal. Discipline related didactics as well pedagogies should be privileged over the ' one size fit all' model that has been promoted in higher education for so long : lecturing is not the unique and the only way to enhance adults' learning and transformation. There are other active pedagogies which can be used to empower and instigate significant learning experiences in students.


Monday, 20 April 2015

Faking MURSI'S speech by the translator

التلفزيون الإيراني يحرّف عمداً خطاب الرئيس محمد مرسي

Saturday, 24 January 2015

It has been a while !

Yes! It has been a while since I did not place any of my reflections in this Blog. Well! There has been a delay because I was so busy with my on-going doctoral work. Doing my studies at the faculty of education instead of Arts and Letters (Department of translation or linguistics), is challenging. Folks in the Education unit stress heavily on  the methodology and didactic elements and there is no way you can escape that. This has been a privilege for me, though. At least I gained something crucial I can transfer to the domain of translation studies in general, particularly applied translation studies (training, quality and technology). I have finished my seminars now and am preparing to deposit my research project, soon after (around summer) I will be doing my Data Collection, then analysis and then depositing my doctoral thesis.

Last year, while in Oman, I managed to network with key colleagues operating in the translation programs in many universities in the country. I am pleased that they showed interest in the project and were ready to collaborate. This year, however, I am heading to Qatar and see if I can give more scope to my data. The problem is that the teaching of translation at a university level in Qatar  can be seen only in two institutions and at various levels (1- Qatar University: minor in translation; 2- TII: Postgraduate (MA) level). So, Qatar has a different type of practice and context. Still, this could be interesting in the sense that it will allow me to cover the teachings and curricular practices in either one country or two. It seems that Qatar has a young experience in translator training and education; but, despite that, we can see that the only fully accredited postgraduate program in translation in the region is in Qatar (The Translation and Interpreting Institute), which is very interesting.