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Thursday, 4 April 2013

What type of research methdologies we need in applied translation studies ( e.g Translator Training)?

Participatory Action Research for translator trainers: A solution to consider!

As part of my PhD programme, we have been working this last semester on Qualitative Research Methodologies in Education. Through in-class seminar discussions with my cohort doctoral students, we had the chance to discuss various types of methods and approaches to a research object. Mainstream translation studies focused heavily on sociological, literary, linguistic and cognitive aspects of translation, and proposed various types of research types extracted from the field of social sciences : Mostly the positivist and 'scientific' methods whereby the purpose of research is to produce knowledge by ' the knowers' on the practitioners : teachers, translation practitioners..etc. This led to the widening of the gap between theory (detached scholars) and the practitioners (teachers/ practicing translators).

Such research models in translation studies can be listed as follows : Linguistic Model( Catford, Nida, Vinay, Newmark, Holmes); Communicative models( Neubert); Cultural models( Steiner, Venuti, Pym , Snell Hornby); Hermeneutic models( Ricoeur); functionalist ( Reiss, vermeer, Nord, chesterman); psycholinguistic models( Krings, bell); textual models( Neubert, shreve, House)..ect (Cravo,2007, p.5).

In Translation pedagogy, we would rather centralize our focus on the actors in the ground : the teacher or faculty. There is no need for the researcher ( Linguist, Researcher in sociology or cognitive psychology to TELL the teacher/faculty or even the practitioner (the artisan) how to approach his class or do translation). I believe in the capacity of the Teacher/Faculty to understand better his or her students' learning needs and interpret their ways of learning and act upon that accordingly (In collaboration with the students themselves who need to be considered as partners in the learning curve rather than passive absorbers of knowledge). Hence, I find it very crucial to introduce the notion of The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning enquiry (Schulmann, 1986; Hutchings 1999) as a method of enhancing the culture of CLASSROOM PARTICIPATORY RESEARCH  to cure a long standing plague we have been suffering from in the translation classroom. Teachers need to improve their practice via engaging in researching their own classroom practice via reflecting on their practise (Schon, 1983). This critical approach would lead teachers to : 1 )  reflect critically on the  type of knowledge they disseminate in a translation classroom; 2) and re-examine the type of teaching approach they use. 

For this to happen, there is a need for faculty to undertake  further pedagogical/disciplinary training . Training not in the sense of a course or workshop , but using video recording to record their classroom interventions and then exchange the film with peer (trained peers) to get feedback. Also, participating in one of the colleague's classroom activity as observer is also desirable ( participatory observation as a research technique). Hence, I still believe that the big divide that exists in many translation courses whereby we find faculties having different ideologies on how to manage and design a course in translation (theoretical or practical)could be resolved if faculty engage in collaborative and participatory type of scholarship of teaching and learning Inquiry whereby they act as both professional teachers and researchers....! 

Teachers who embark on teaching translation come from various backgrounds, and yet the question remains how many of them were trained on teaching translation contents, skills and competencies? (Cravo, 2007). The way I see it is that translation is a profession and its teaching approaches and methods should be fledged with the ways professionals are trained (use  active pedagogies, coaching, AND less didactics and lecturing).

This is what is called in the literature by the method of PARTICIPATORY ACTION RESEARCH . It was Stephen Corey (1953) who introduced the term in Education, and Stenhouse (1975) did embed it with Teacher Training. In the field  of Translation Studies , we have few authors who referred to this technique :

Regarding Action research initiative in Arabic-English Translation literature, we may mention Basil Hatim (2001), who stipulated that research should not be made on practitioners (teachers/ translators) but by practitioners themselves. Other researchers and scholars in translation  have similarly  argued the point that AR (Action research ) is key towards enhancing translator education as main core field of research and enquiry , such as (Cravo, 2007,  p.11) who stipulates that : '' 


In my research, I am working on enhancing this method in a technology based environment (online learning-teaching). This environments may yield promising results and outcomes for the AR led by translation teachers in the context of higher education. The online environment is student based and focuses on creating significant learning outcomes ( in the context of Higher Education) via creating learning communities. This requires, a very active and collaborative type of intervention on the part of faculty...More facilitating and monitoring activities than teaching.


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