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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).