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Saturday, 25 May 2013

The issues of Knowledge Frameworks and Ideologies in a translation program?? What is it?

Kearn (2008, 2006, 2012) had widely discussed the ongoing syndrome of the ''hidden curriculum'' in translation programs worldwide. He kept asking ' How is the conception of the translation course, its development and evaluation follow certain educationally sound and professional  guidelines that suit the local context of the students/institution ? who does that? what framework(s) they base their plannings (for the program) and interventions (in the classroom)? Do they refer to  the recent and ongoing advances discipline of translation studies and translation pedagogy? do they consciously plan, design and develop their courses(teachers) or they do that intuitively and instinctively with no clear objectives to achieve? is there a follow up system to check whether these intended outcomes were indeed achieved by faculty? How do assessment fits into this? do they assess the product (text translation) or the process (learning/performance process) ????

The above questions summarise my query for this communication : The knowledge that is vehiculed in a translation classroom by faculty (including students), and the curriculum/course design and development(including assessment ) issues.

From my preliminary review of the literature in the Arab World, and apart from the publications bemoaning the 'dificiencies' of the language students (Usually EFL students) in translation, none of these works have discussed widely and qualitatively the human factor in translator training programs (faculty, teacher, students). This case has been reported in other parts of the world as well (Kelly, 2009). In the case of teacher's pedagogical competencies and knowledge of the real world of translation (in-house or freelance), we have seen various confirmation of this issue by the very few and tiny committed Arab researchers in the field of translation teaching (Atari, Fargal, Buhmaid).

 It is important that faculty in translation programs receive the guidance and support they deserve to design their courses referring to knowledge frameworks SPECIFIC to the field : Translation Studies, the profession, and its pedagogy. Sticking to other 'inherited' types of knowledge (linguistics, literature) and sue them predominantly in a translation educational context contradicts the ORIGINALITY and FACE VALUE of a respectable translation program. 

Again, the epistemological (ideological) element is of crucial importance in such a PROFESSIONALLY oriented program within an academic(university ) context. There should not be a 'hit and miss' policy when it comes to setting up translation programs. It is a respectable discipline that has confirmed its presence worldwide, although in most of cases it has been catered and shelved under language departments, wider conferences, symposia, organisations, articles , journals and books have been published by various authors worldwide. People (administrators, faculty, industry, other stakeholders) who are directly/indirectly involved need to take the issue of building translation programs and selecting adequate human resources seriously to achieve quality based performance outcomes: students being trained to find a job in translation, teachers (through an action based type of pedagogy) would be able to improve their abilities and do better each semester after receiving students feedback, and the market (local employers) will also be content with their new employees (students).

To sum up, if we work on fixing the issues '' What type of knowledge should be privileged in a translation program/classroom ?'' and '' How can we get rid of the predominance of the ' hidden curriculum' syndrome where everyone (mostly lacking translation specific curriculum/ pedagogical as well as REAL WORLD translation knowledge) tries to design and teach translation courses for students who cannot see the face validity of the courses they taking? (why I study theory? why I study contrastive studies? why I translate these texts and not those? How is what I am studying now will benefit me in my translation career  ( the 21st century job market) ???

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