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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 (faculty/scholars/instructors) 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 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 mobilization, internationalization, low budgeting and fierce competition. Further, universities need to be  closer to society and eager to respond to social as well as economic concerns. The servicing need to be there.  The university as an ivory tower is no more working. Besides, 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.

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