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Review of  Global Trends in Translator and Interpreter Training

Reviewer: Piero Antonio Toto
Book Title: Global Trends in Translator and Interpreter Training
Book Author: Séverine Emmanuelle Hubscher-Davidson Michal Borodo
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing (formerly The Continuum International Publishing Group)
Linguistic Field(s): Applied Linguistics
Issue Number: 23.5133

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EDITORS: Hubscher-Davidson, Séverine Emmanuelle; Borodo, Michał
TITLE: Global Trends in Translator and Interpreter Training
SUBTITLE: Mediation and Culture
SERIES TITLE: Bloomsbury Advances in Translation
PUBLISHER: Continuum International Publishing Group Ltd
YEAR: 2012

Pier Antonio (Piero) Toto, Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, London Metropolitan University

The collection of articles was inspired by a panel on translation education at the 3rd conference of the International Association for Translation and Intercultural Studies (IATIS) held at Monash University, Melbourne, Australia, in July 2009. In particular, the 12 chapters edited by Hubscher-Davidson and Borodo focus on approaches to educating trainee translators and interpreters, and their relevance for the job market.

The book opens with a preface by Jeremy Munday, general editor of the series on Advances in Translation, who underlines the role of translation today as not only an interlingual activity but also as intralingual transmission. This has fostered the creation of several practices and subgenres within Translation Studies which, as also explained by the editors in their introduction, rely on interactions between distant cultures, academia, the world of business, and international bodies, as well as approaches to training which can be described as constructivist and holistic [pp. 1-2] and which are dealt with in the ensuing chapters.

The book is divided into four parts: Part 1, ‘Curriculum Issues in an International Context’, deals with the backdrop against which choices around translator training are currently made, in light of the adoption of translation standards, especially at European level, and current definitions of translator competence; Part 2, ‘Global Trends in Technology for T&I Training’, focuses on the increasing use of technology and IT tools in the classroom, and their impact on both students and trainers; Part 3, ‘Translation, Intercultural Communication and Empowerment’, shifts the attention from the tools to the subjects involved in the translation process by addressing issues such as student/trainer empowerment and assessment in the classroom; Part 4, ‘Global Perspectives on the Translation Process’, provides an overview of translation/interpreting practices in three different environments (namely Australia, the UK and Austria) with the aim of highlighting current idiosyncrasies and suggesting best practices for future trainers.

In Chapter 1, “Curriculum Ideologies in Translator and Interpreter Training”, John Kearns discusses ideologies in designing translator and interpreter training, paying particular attention to the apparent discrepancy between vocational training (i.e. professionalization) and academia. He highlights the ‘inevitable ideological matrix underpinning the delivery of [curricula]’ [p. 16] which poses a challenge in terms of educational planning, seeing as the needs of the translation industry (job market and professionals) can be rather volatile. In this respect, he presents two opposing views on translator training, those of Federica Scarpa (2006) and Anthony Pym (2006), which show how reconciling market-oriented technical training and academic education remain at the heart of discussions on translator competence. He then suggests focusing on local ‘real-world’ contexts in which training/education takes place in order to prepare trainees for their future challenges as professionals.

On the subject of professionalization, Christina Schäffner’s chapter, “Translation Competence: Training for the Real World”, contains an overview of translation competence, as defined by the European Master’s in Translation (EMT) project, and observations about of the introduction of the standard EN 15038 for translation service providers (TSPs) in Europe. The author discusses the impact of both on the core module ‘The Translation Profession’, run as part of three postgraduate translation programmes offered at Aston University (Birmingham, UK), and acknowledges the benefits of cooperation between academia and the translation industry, in particular in terms of the relevance of translation programmes for the professional world.

Chapter 3, “The EN 15038 Standard: Is there a Washback Effect on Translation Education?”, is the section’s last chapter. Anca Greere discusses the usefulness of the standard EN 15038 and its pedagogical relevance, in particular after its adoption by the Romanian Standards Association in 2006 and its translation into Romanian in 2007. Standardization is then evaluated in terms of its impact on translation education in Romania, especially after the redesign of a postgraduate translation programme based on that standard. It highlights the existence of an academic-vocational hybrid, whose key aspect is the relationship between commissioner and translator, as well as activities such as negotiation, project management, terminology work and the translation process proper [p. 49]. The adoption of the standard in an educational environment has had an impact on the validation of curricula and curriculum development, as well as enhancing the status of formal translator training.

In Part 2 the focus switches to translation technology and its applications in the classroom. In Chapter 4, “Translation Technologies as Seen Through the Eyes of Educators and Students: Harmonizing Views with the Help of a Centralized Teaching and Learning Resource”, Elizabeth Marshman and Lynne Bowker discuss training resources for translator education, identifying basic needs and challenges through the adoption of a centralized tool, the Collection of Electronic Resources in Translation Technologies (CERTT), to meet specific learning outcomes included in the curriculum adopted at the University of Ottawa, Canada. In particular, they stress the importance of encouraging critical thinking about tools in translator education [p. 89] and better integration of technology in translation programmes, so as to foster transferability of skills and meet both students’ and trainers’ expectations about the effective implementation of electronic tools in their daily routine.

Chapter 5, “Assessing Competence in Using Electronic Corpora in Translator Training”, by Patricia Rodríguez-Inés and Amparo Hurtado Albir, deals with the use of electronic corpora for translator training. Students are encouraged to use such tools in order to solve translation problems whilst their competence, defined by the authors as a ‘combination of capabilities and skills […] used efficiently in situations with common characteristics’ [p. 97], is assessed by employing a range of evaluation tools (learning diaries, questionnaires). Competence is assessed for formative and summative purposes and the authors ultimately provide useful tips for lecturers who wish to enhance their students’ learning experience.

Chapter 6, “Subtitling and the Didactics of Translation”, by Laura Incalcaterra McLoughlin, concludes this second part of the volume by analysing the didactic application of Audiovisual Translation (AVT) modes in training translators, focusing mainly on collaborative work for the creation of interlingual subtitles. Students work with a variety of materials, namely scripts, software programmes and their own subtitling files, as part of a postgraduate module in AVT at the National University of Ireland in Galway, favouring ‘collaborative learning’ [p. 138] and the creation of a ‘space for reflective thinking’ [p. 139]. The authors suggest further research to evaluate improvements in AVT translator training and to aid practice with different subtitling strategies.

Part 3 opens with an essay by Valerie Pellatt on ideology and student training in China. This 7th chapter, “Teaching and Learning the Importance of Ideological Awareness for Chinese-speaking Trainee Translators”, outlines the impact of ideology on Chinese students’ approaches to English translations and highlights the peculiarities of intercultural communication in this particular instance by explaining the characteristics of ‘official Chinese English’ [p. 153]. This is a variant of English which is derived from centuries of translation practice in China, and whose main traits are extreme fidelity to the original, the use of official equivalents for specific terms (some of which verge on excessive wordiness, with mixed results in terms of clarity) and strategies such as explicitation, omission and addition. Translations from Chinese into English are usually carried out and commissioned by the producers of the source text (so-called ‘autotranslations’ [p. 150], i.e. translations which are likely to be edited by the commissioning body). This raises issues of accountability and detachment as far as the translator is concerned, as pointed out by Hermans (2007), and highlights the peculiar relationship that Chinese translator trainees and professional have with both the source and the target culture. As a solution, the author suggests raising student awareness of source and target culture behaviours and ideologies, so that these can be effectively transferred in translation.

In Chapter 8, “The Role of Translation in Other Learning Contexts: Towards Acting Interculturally”, Maria González Davies discusses translation as a language learning strategy which enhances intercultural competence and improves general expertise. This exploratory study relies on trainees involved in the teaching of children literature in English and explores the theoretical framework underlining such context. The author distinguishes between Translation for Other Learning Contexts (TOLC) and translation for the development of professional translator competence [p. 163]. This challenges the trainees’ views of culture and reinforces a view of translation as an active agent of transformation, in that students are encouraged to query their rationale behind the solutions adopted, thus stimulating discussions around the role of translation as a learning tool for non-professional training purposes.

Konrad Klimkowski and Katarzyna Klimkowska’s case study in Chapter 9, “Towards Empowerment in Translator Education: Students’ Opinions and Expectations of a Translation Training Course” explores the notion of empowerment -- defined as the ‘power to act in accordance with the knowledge and skills [developed]’ [p. 181] -- and students’ opinions, attitudes and beliefs about it in a postgraduate translation training course in Lublin, Poland. The authors investigate teacher and student empowerment in developing skills and competences, thus also providing insight into the students’ level of intrinsic motivation to learn following an empowered assessment process (mainly peer-reviewing, with a clear indication of the relevant assessment objectives). In the author’s view, this provides essential career building skills for their future work as professionals.

The final part of the volume (Part 4) opens with Marc Orlando’s research on evaluation tools used in training in different contexts to enhance students’ awareness of the practices and requirements of the translation industry. His study, “Training of Professional Translators in Australia: Process-oriented and Product-oriented Evaluation Approaches”, is based on the use of such tools in the Master of Translation Studies at Monash University, the tools being evaluation grids derived from translation and interpreting agencies as well as the Australian National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters (NAATI), and translator’s diaries. Orlando’s methodology relies on the different ways of evaluating a translations, taking into account not only previous work (Gouadec, 1989; Nord, 1997; Schäffner, 1997) but also quality assurance as carried out in the translation industry. In this respect, translations are seen as products in which a careful balance must be struck between objective and subjective textual factors [p. 205]. The results show that students’ involvement in the learning process is more effective when evaluation tools, created from a combination of theoretical, professional and pedagogical elements, are integrated in students’ training in such a way that students can better familiarize themselves with the discipline and ultimately develop useful professional skills later in life.

In Chapter 11, “Addressing the Question of Ethical Dilemmas in Community Interpreter Training”, Łukasz Kaczmarek shifts attention to community interpreting, stressing the importance of preparing future professionals for ethical dilemmas and scenarios they will face. He focuses on the suitability of current codes of conduct, such as the code issued by the National Register of Public Service Interpreters (NRPSI) in the UK, in preparing future professionals to deal with such dilemmas (e.g., intervention) in light of the restrictions imposed by the current codes in place. He proposes a model of community interpreter competence (CIC) based on the model of intercultural communication competence originally presented by Spitzberg (2009), which evaluates competence on the basis of the community interpreter’s performance during interaction with other parties. In light of this, he suggests abandoning codes of conduct which are potentially too prescriptive for situations where ethical dilemmas cannot be anticipated, and suggests a more constructive approach which grants interpreters more freedom during interactions with clients.

The final chapter, “Tracing Strategic Behaviour in Translation Processes: Translation Novices, 4th-semester Students and Professional Translators Compared”, focuses on the notion of strategic competence, i.e. the rationale behind translation strategies as implemented by three different groups: a first group, made up of 12 translation students at beginner level; a second group, composed of the same students in their 4th semester in the BA programme at the University of Graz (Austria); and a last group, consisting of 10 translation professionals, all with at least 10 years’ experience. Their strategic behaviour, defined as behaviour showing awareness of the requirements of the target text in order for it to be a good match to the relevant source text [p. 241], was analysed by submitting a set of texts for translation (ranging from popular science to operating manuals) and by implementing a series of tools (mainly electronic) to record their speed and thought process. Problems in the translations were mainly classified according to comprehension and production, with a third category being a combination of these two. The results obtained showed that the professional translators were more aware of coherence in the source text and therefore adopted more strategic/acceptable solutions, based on other indicators within the text. However, despite adopting strategic behaviour they did not produce target texts which could be submitted to the client without final revision. Amongst the possible reasons, the author lists the relatively limited feedback which translators receive on their jobs, thus preventing them from continuously developing their competence, but also the lack of familiarity with the text genre and/or the differences in the translation approach adopted (i.e. whether function- or equivalence-based).

The volume presents an interesting and multifaceted picture of current trends in translator and interpreter training against the background of the Bologna process, and highlights practices adopted by academics around the world in dealing with the challenges of developing competence in the classroom and in everyday situations. Regardless of authors’ geographical location and the local implications of their studies, the practices investigated are immediately recognisable as familiar to trainers around the world.

The chapters are organised in a way that provides a macro- to micro-level perspective of the practices under discussion, from standardization to ideology, to classroom-based activities, covering a range of issues which have been dealt with coherently and which may be of interest for trainers and scholars alike.

Despite the title, somewhat more essays focus on translation rather than interpreting. Considering the implications that the adoption of IT tools is having on the delivery of translation programmes at university level, as well as the changes to the nature of the professional profile of the translator as a consequence of this (Pym, 2012), it would have been interesting to see further indications of what scenarios are currently being developed around the world for trainers involved with translation environment tools (TEnTs)/translation memories (TMs), machine translation (MT) or voice-recognition software for interpreting. This could perhaps be explored in a future volume as part of the same series, which could also further look into the use of audiovisual translation (AVT) in language training, for example, as already emphasised by Incalcaterra McLoughlin’s contribution.

Nevertheless, the volume is a welcome addition to Translation Studies and sheds very refreshing light on common global approaches to the teaching of a profession which at times is seen as endemically fragmented and not universally recognised as a true profession.


Gouadec, Daniel. 1989. Le Traducteur, la traduction et l’entreprise. Paris: AFNOR Gestion.

Hermans, Theo. 2007. The Conference of the Tongues. Manchester: St. Jerome.

Nord, Christiane. 1997. Translating as a Purposeful Activity. Functionalist Approaches Explained. Manchester: St. Jerome.

Pym, Anthony. 2006. Eppure … A reply to Federica Scarpa’s reply. Paper presented at the conference Tradurre: professione e formazione, Università di Padova, Italy, 6-8 April 2006. (22 September 2012)

Pym, Anthony. 2012. Translation skill-sets in a machine translation age. (22 September 2012)

Scarpa, Federica. 2006. Some issues in specialist-translator training: A reply to Anthony Pym. Paper presented at the conference Tradurre: professione e formazione, Università di Padova, Italy, 6-8 April 2006.

Schäffner, Christina. 1997. Skopos theory. In M. Baker (ed.) Encyclopedia of Translation Studies. London: Routledge.

Spitzberg, Brian H. 2009. A model of intercultural communication competence. In L.A. Samovar, R.E. Porter and E.R. McDaniels (eds) Intercultural Communication: A Reader (12th edn). Boston: Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 381-393.

Piero Toto is Lecturer in Translation at London Metropolitan University. His main field of specialisation is translation technology and training, in particular electronic tools, information and technology management for translation, web-based resources for translation and localisation. He has extensive experience as both in-house and freelance translator and is actively engaged with industry partners and translation stakeholders in the development of best practices. His publications include translations into Italian and articles on masculinity, queer studies and translator training.

Format: Hardback
ISBN: 1441193405
ISBN-13: 9781441193407
Pages: 288
Prices: U.K. £ 75.00