Translating in Tandem

Along with the departments dedicated to the individual languages, the FASK (School of Applied Linguistics and Cultural Studies) in Germersheim also has an Department for Intercultural Communication & German studies, which offers classes for foreign students. Since classes for German students are offered only by the other institutes, there are no regular translation courses in which German students and native speakers of a foreign language work together.

The optional project described here was offered as an intensive course outside the regular schedule and was structured like this:

Two translation courses joined and the students split up into groups of three, with each group comprising one Latin American, one Spanish and one German student). Each of these groups translated four different types of text, for example an editorial and an advertisement into German and Spanish. Since this involved a lot of work, the students also met outside the regular project meeting sessions to continue with their translations.

The fact that each group had an expert for the respective target language and culture led to a lively exchange of knowledge, a high level of motivation, great responsibility and steadily growing confidence.

However, in some cases this confidence made the native speakers rely on their language skills too much without analyzing their decisions properly. Such an approach may lead to mistakes that would not have been made without a native speaker in the group. One way to improve performance could be to use dictionaries more frequently and have the instructors point out possible mistakes. Also, the groups could exchange and proofread their translations, thereby increasing communication as well as the exchange of knowledge and helping the students become more sensitive towards their own linguistic competence.

The participating students and instructors are convinced that this type of project is very effective and also good preparation for professional life as a translator. After all, translators always have to be able to cooperate with experts or other translators.

Maybe this project can be an example for other projects of this kind, making 'intercultural translation' an integral part of the curriculum.

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