Panel 14: Process-oriented and collaborative learning in translator education (Maureen Ehrensberger-Dow, Don Kiraly)

An object of study at the centre of our discipline is the translation process, which in turn can be considered a situated event involving actors with various roles and responsibilities or as the cognitive act of an individual translator operating within such an event (cf. Toury 2012 or Chesterman 2011). More on the periphery of Translation Studies as described by Holmes, but in the centre of many of our professional lives, are issues relevant to translator education. Common to both the centre and the periphery is growing awareness of the importance of collaboration and collaborative learning.
At most professional workplaces, language professionals collaborate in the various steps of the translation event: processing commissions, managing workflows, searching for information and parallel texts, maintaining TM systems, communicating with clients, producing target texts, localizing for target audience’s needs, revising, ensuring terminological consistency, checking quality, and submitting the finished product. Thanks to the possibilities opened up by the internet and social media, there can also be a collaborative dimension in the translation processes of even the most physically isolated freelancers, who may otherwise work on their own, receiving commissions and delivering target texts to clients they have never met.

Collaboration in translator education has been discussed in terms of social constructivist notions of collaborative learning, which can mean different things to different people. For some, collaborative learning has happened within the framework of on-site courses as students carry out projects that they organize more or less autonomously (e.g. Kiraly 2005). Others have encouraged student collaboration and learning through web-based courses that offer the possibility of exchanging views and working together online, possibly combined with a project-based approach (e.g. Olvera-Lobo et al. 2009). This understanding of collaborative learning generally relates to the translation process as an event, with collaboration happening between the actors involved in each step. The possibility of collaborating in the act of translation has received relatively little attention to date, probably because of the common understanding of cognition as an individual activity. However, a great deal of recent research has been devoted to investigating the translation process as an instance of situated cognition, with translators interacting with their tools and presumably collaborating at least to some extent with others in their environment. Some of the techniques used in this type of research, such as various combinations of keystroke logging, screen recordings, and retrospection, have also been applied in the context of translator training for diagnostic purposes and for heightening students’ awareness of their translation practices and problem-solving behavior (e.g. Angelone forthcoming, Massey & Ehrensberger-Dow 2011, Pym 2009).
The focus of this thematic session, then, is collaborative learning with a process orientation. An explicit objective of the session is to explore the potential value of combining collaborative learning with translation process research - in the sense of the translation event or the translation act. The session’s participants will consider the costs and benefits of combining collaborative approaches in translation teaching with an increased focus on the translation process. Questions that the speakers will address include:

  • What is the added value of including a translation process orientation in collaborative learning?
  • How can collaborative learning be introduced to the various steps of the translation process?
  • Which process research techniques and tools are useful for collaborative learning?
  • What is the cost-benefit relationship of combining processes with collaborative learning?
  • How can recordings of translation processes be used for collaborative purposes?
  • How can information search and/or revision processes be integrated in collaborative learning scenarios?
  • What is the relationship between distributed cognition and collaboration in translation?
  • What opportunities do process-oriented and collaborative approaches present for translation evaluation?
Angelone, Erik (forthcoming). The place of screen recording in process-oriented translator training, RITT Rivista Internazionale di Tecnica della Traduzione/International Journal of Translation 13.
Chesterman, Andrew (2011). Process models and their assumptions. Plenary session of Text-Process-Text: Questions in Process Oriented Research on Translation and Interpreting, Stockholm University, November 2011 (to appear in a special issue of Translation and Interpreting Studies).
Kiraly, Don (2005) Project-based learning: a case for situated translation, Meta 50:4, 1098-1111.
Massey, Gary & Ehrensberger-Dow, Maureen (2011). Commenting on translation: implications for translator training, Journal of Specialised Translation 16, 26-41.
Olvera-Lobo, Maria Dolores et al. (2009). Teleworking and collaborative work environments in translation training, Babel 55:2, 165-180.
Pym, Anthony (2009). Using process studies in translator training: self-discovery through lousy experiments. In: Susanne Göpferich, Fabio Alves & Inger M. Mees (eds) (2009). Methodology, Technology and Innovation in Translation Process Research. Copenhagen Studies in Language 38. Copenhagen: Samfundslitteratur, 135-156.
Toury, Gideon (2012). Descriptive Translation Studies and Beyond (2nd edition). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.