Metalanguage for teaching translation and interpreting
I want to look at some of the basic terms that we use when we talk about teaching and about the teaching of translation and interpreting specifically. So consider this: What am I called? Am I a teacher, a professor, an instructor, a facilitator, a coordinator. All of those terms can be found in the literature.
And there are subtle differences between them. I think, though, that if we are teaching a good term for that is a "teacher". I'm a teacher. In English, Australian English, British English a "professor" is an academic rank like top of the Christmas tree. So not all your teachers are professors. In the United States.
they tend to use "professor" more liberally. If you're teaching, you might call yourself a professor. And students might call you that way. An instructor is somebody who is giving information.
And that seems fairly neutral, fairly clear. A facilitator, though, is somebody who is helping students do activities to gather information to learn. So a facilitator is a more loaded term and goes with a certain way of teaching. As does coordinator. We might imagine a class where lots of students are doing different activities. And the role of the teacher is to coordinate the activities with minimal intervention.
So although there are many terms, there are many subtle differences between them. And we'll see this as we go along. So let's see: general name for teacher, American term. usually for somebody who imparts know-how, a language "instructor", for example, "facilitator", politically correct term because it's loaded and we'll see how that's related to constructivism in a minute. And then a "coordinator". It's more ambiguous but also related to constructivism, which we'll have to see.
There may be many more. Watch out. What are you, then? If we have different names for teachers, what are people who are supposed to be learning in the class? Well, students, people who study - fair enough. You could be "learners" because you're learning. However, if we are doing activities in the class, we might want to call you "participants". Since if we do activities often the teacher can learn as well.
So all those terms are there. There are subtle differences between them with respect to what you do in the classroom. But also, as you can see, the power relationships. Students and learners are opposed to teachers or professors or whatever. Whereas in "participants", you're participating in a group activity alongside the people who are getting paid to be there.
So there are power relations. There's also economic relations. some people are paid to be there, other people get paid to be there. And that might underlie the power relations. Now, what did we call it when we do what we want to do here our focus is on teaching translation, I should add and interpreting.
We can call it "translator training" if we like, or "translator education". And there is a subtle difference between between those terms. So teaching translation is fine, but that's just a general term... Teaching translation and interpreting is alright. If I'm doing "translator training " though, that's more like preparing somebody to enter a profession.
Training is is giving you a vocational skills, right? You're going to become a translator. I will tell you how to do that. As opposed to the term "translator education", which is more general: we're giving you general skills and knowledge that you can use in many, many different professionals. How to work between languages.
People who do that are not just full-time professional translators and interpreters. People are doing these or applying these skills in many professions. As you'll see later on, only about a third of the students we teach in the translation and interpreting classes. only about one third of them actually become professional translators and interpreters. The rest use their skills in many other professions.
Types of teaching. You can do face to face and you can do distance. Face-to-face means synchronic and in the same place.
And distance is synchronic or asynchronous. That means at the same time or pre-recorded and you watch it later. Synchronic at the same time. Asynchronous or asynchronous at different times and not in the same place.
We'll come back to these distinctions in a minute. E-learning is a term that just means the integration of electronic technologies. So the fact that we have a website or we have this recorded lecture, all that is just e-learning in general.
And then we have blended when you have face-to-face and distance learn being used. Some materials are done face to face. Other materials are done with distance learning. More basic terms. There's a lesson as a subject and as a course. Now this is difficult because the ways we use those terms here at the University of Melbourne are perhaps not the same as you use them in other places.
So a lesson is what we do in a classroom for one hour or two hours. So a "lesson" is a class, that's clear. A "subject" is this. This subject is called "Teaching, translation and interpreting". In other places, it can be called a "course".
It can be called a "unit". It can be called a "module". What is it? It's a set of lessons, right? Usually in one semester - that's a subject. And then in Melbourne, a "course" is like your Master of Translation or Master of Applied Linguistics.
That's your course: a set of subjects. But we can see in other places, a "course" is the subject. So this is just a landmine. It's horrible, it's confusing.
It's different in different parts of Australia. This is the way I will try to use the terms here. What are we interested in teaching, interpreting or interpretation? What's the difference? They're both spoken translation. In the United States they prefer "interpretation".
I'll be using "interpreting" because I think it's slightly less ambiguous. "Interpretation" can mean construing meaning from a text, from any text, "interpreting" is a little bit more specific to the interlingual aspect. If we put in "translation" as written translation and spoken translation together, a good term for that is "mediation". But mediation can be any way of getting a message across, including re-telling, re-narration or this one. translannguaging: any way of saying in one language something that's in another language, that can be just telling the story again. Translanguaging has many different usages.
This is the one I'll be using here. Some people, particularly in the United States, call it "translanguaging" when students mix up languages in the classroom and say what they can say in the language that's most available to them. That's one way of using the term. Here, though. I'll be using it as a virtual synonym of a wide sense of mediation. But we can distinguish between teaching methods, teaching approaches. And there is something called "post-method", let's see.
So a method is a way of organizing activities in class. We can talk about often the communicative method, where we give real-world activities and get students involved. Or there used to be the "grammar translation" method where we would teach grammar and they gave translation activities to see if students had learned the grammar. Or "immersion" would be a method as well, where we do everything in the language that the students have to learn. So they leave their L1, their first language, at the door.
They come into the classroom and they use the language they suppose to learn. So that's a method. This is confusing, but in general, I'll try to stick to this. A teaching "approach" is a set of ideas about what teaching is. We'll see two of them in a minute.
Beware though, we're om what some people have called the "post-method condition". This is where ,when the teacher is teaching, there is not just one way of doing it. You don't just select one method and apply it all the time. You adapt and mix methods to suit the students in front of you and the learning objectives that you have to attain. While we're on this, just two words that will come up: "scaffolding" and "emergence". "Scaffolding" is the idea that as we teach something, we give lots of help to the students.
So they learn along the way. For example, if we're teaching interpreting, we'll start off by going with a very slow text. So it's quite easy.
And then when, as if you were building a building and you put the scaffolding around the outside so the workers can get to where they have to go to build the building. Once the building is in place, you take the scaffolding away. So once we get the skills across to the students, we take away the learning supports. For example, we would give the speeches in real-time - really fast, and let them use their skills at a professional level while they're learning. We have scaffolding.
When the skills have been acquired, we take the scaffolding away. And "emergence" is a term that crops up as well. This is just the idea that learning is not an on-off activity.
It's usually not "Oh, now I understand." "I've got the knowledge and I can do it", particularly in translation and interpreting, which are inherently complex activities with many, many variables going on. Skills aren't suddenly acquired, they emerge, they emerge from practice, from input, from self-reflection on the part of the student. So emergence is a very complex mode of acquisition and it's the kind that we tend to have in translation and interpreting. What I talk about "approaches" here, the terms I'll be using go back to really a fundamental binarism introduced by or insisted on by Don Kiraly.
You should see a lecture of him and do some reading. He carefully distinguishes between a transmissionist approach, otherwise called "teacher-centered learning". You can see it's just his diagram here. You've got the teacher up here with all the knowledge, like water, like a bucket holding water. and we send that knowledge to all little students down here who get their water.
And the knowledge is transmitted from the big bucket, that's the teacher to the little buckets and these are the students. And that would be a transmissionist approach to learning. So this is what we're doing right now. I'm talking and somebody out there is taking in what I'm saying and doing something with it, perhaps learning something. Let's hope! Transmissionist learning is obviously used when you have lots of students. If you've got 200 students, there's not much else you can do.
And sometimes when there's a fixed content that can be learned in that way, such as, for example, terms. So this content that I'm dealing with here is something that can be attempted in the transmissionist way. That's opposed to a constructivist approach, which you can see here.
Another term for that is usually "student-centered learning". Constructivism. The idea comes from the model where what we know about the world is not in the world.
I'll explain this. What we know about translation, for example, is not essentially in the activity of translation. It's what we construct, what every person constructs. We interpret the world.
And knowledge of the world is our construction of all the data that are out there. So whereas a transmissionist model assumes stable knowledge, that everybody would agree on, the constructivist approach recognizes that knowledge is not stable and that people have to construe or interpretive actively in order to acquire knowledge and it's their knowledge. So the model of the classroom here again from Kiraly of the teacher. There is a teacher who would in this case be a facilitator or coordinator. And then you have students work in groups on activities. And students working on these activities are going to discover things from the activity.
They might be reading a text, interpreting a text, or looking at other material. So knowledge is not created from the teacher to the students, but by the students, usually working in groups. And this is what we do in our classrooms here. There'll be some transmission of content like this here. And then we'll be doing activities to try to get this kind of constructivist learning.
What's interesting is that when I do this every year, I learn things from what you discover in the groups. So in this model, it's quite common for the teacher, the facilitator as we have it here, to actually be a learner as well. I'm going to skip that because we've done it before. I wanted just to indicate the term "flipped". So "blended" is what we're doing here. Some of our content is online.
Other content is not online. A flipped classroom is a type of blended teaching where students will get the transmissionist knowledge online because you don't need a lot of interaction for that. And then the classroom is where students are involved in an activity which is essentially problem-solving. So we use the online means and for transmissionist content.
And we use the live online activities for a constructivist approach. What's interesting is that the flipped classroom can be done online. They can do both. As we might find that in this particular subject. Just to get some terms right, you have to distinguish between these things.
What are the distinctions? A lecture in English is one person speaking to many people, usually without interaction. A lecture can be one person speaking. Questions are raised, there's a discussion of the questions that would be more a seminar. The seminar is a very free area where the teacher has some input, but that's adapted to what students say.
And there's more interaction in translation and interpreting, particularly written literary translation. We might have a masterclass where a translator comes in with a text and they will show how they translate it as the master and the students will follow as apprentices. It's a very, very old model of teaching a master-apprentice type relationship.
It could also be having the student do the translation and the teacher comes in as a master and gives points of advice and criticism on it. We use a lot of group work on many different kinds of activities. A specific kind is tandem work. And "tandem" just means two together, like on a tandem bike - you've got two people riding the bike along.
Tandem activities or tandem work is really great in translation and interpreting. If, for example, you have students that have different first languages. So if we're translating from English into Chinese, we could get two people working on it.
This person has first language English. This person has first language Chinese. They work together on the activity and they teach each other effectively because they have asymmetric skills. Another kind of tandem work is when we would have students who know a lot about translation, working with students who know a lot about teaching or applied linguistics. So we might have some of that kind of tandem work operating in this subject, a learning activity can also be extended to project work over a long term, and we should add their actual classroom activities.
In this case, doing teaching is the best way to learn about it. I want to just emphasize here at the beginning, we're going to look at it later. that teaching translation involves a lot of different kinds of activities. So sort of the normal thing that's done is o we have a text to translate.
You've translated it before you come to class, we come into class, we say , "Ah, Johnny at the back.... How do you translate that first sentence?" And then we discuss the translations. That's just one way of doing it. There are many other ways. We can get students to do translations prior to class, come to class, put them together.
And we said, you agree on a translation: discuss it in your small group, and come up with a common translation. So students have to discuss it and agree and negotiate meaning actively. In the groups. We can have projects where we have a big text to translate and different students do different parts of the text. And one person does the terminology.
Another person will do the layout and the design and perhaps some illustrations. And another person we will be the project manager who coordinates all those activities. So we have different kinds of project work going.
Other things can be done like a translation criticism. We can pick up a published translation and do a criticism of how well they succeeded and look at the kinds of solutions that have been found by the professional or at least published translator. And then how we can improve them. And then you'll find out that there's lots and lots of other skills involved in translation, particularly terminology, post-editing, which is repairing machine translation, using translation- memory skills. There's lots and lots of technology that comes into translation and interpreting and which has to be taught.
Or one of the things that we do in my translation classes usually is we have some groups, clients and other groups of translators. And the translation companies, we call them companies, have to compete to win a contract from the client. So there's a lot of simulated activities that can be used as well. So the message here, we'll see this later on is that there are many, many different kinds of activities that can be used when we teach translation and interpreting. That then is just an overview of some of the basic terms that we'll be using throughout this subject.