It is a project embodying the principles of distance and open learning, where the students will be working autonomously in groups after an initial briefing by the instructors (consultants) and by the client, or requester of the end product (a brochure in three languages for the purpose of informing prospective applicants about a conference interpretation course).

One team in each language group will take responsibility for compiling a terminology for the project, while other groups will work on the translation in different languages and pool and co-ordinate resources for problem-solving and presenting questions to the client. The students will have a certain time schedule with deadlines to work to, but otherwise they will organize their work and meetings freely (agreeing on meetings with the consultants, other language teams etc.), using e-mail and a tool developed by the education department which allows a text to be input, accessed and commented on by all memebers of the team. The purpose of this project is to develop methods of open and distance learning for translator training.


A pilot project has been started in Turku - a three-month university-supervised internship in a translation company, for which the student receives credit towards her degree. The student must have completed certain courses, and a contract has been drawn up laying down certain obligations for all three parties involved - the employer, the training university and the student.


The Contract lays down the conditions specifying the intern's tasks as

The employer is responsible for instructing the intern on the company's operational principles and practices in customer service and the translation process. The university supervises that the goals of the internship are achieved, which are: for the intern to learn at first hand how a translation company functions and how the different stages of the translation process are carried out; for the training institution to gain a better understanding of the practice of the translating profession in order to develop training; and for the employer to strenghten links with the training institutions and thus to contribute to training, thus bringing about a situation where their recruiting needs are better met.

Contributed by Rosemary Mackenzie, MA, Centre for Translation and Interpreting
University of Turku, Finland


One example that addresses the issue of upskilling both for translators who wish to work in the Internet environment as well as those employed in traditional settings is the totally Web-based Translation Techniques course for English-Chinese and English-Japanese offered by the University of Hawaii at Manoa Outreach College. The 11-week course was supervised by Dr David Ashworth and inaugurated in the Northern Hemisphere spring of 1999. The applicants for the course need to sit screening tests for bidirectional translation for the respective language pair (i.e. English to Chinese and Chinese to English and the same for Japanese). The tests are done online through its Web site cleverly designed whereby the clock starts as soon as the candidate opens the test page. This requirement also cuts off those who do not have Web access in Chinese or Japanese Language. The staff teaching the course is from the Center for Interpretation and Translation Studies (CITS) at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, which provides attendance-based courses for translation and interpretation in Chinese, Japanese and Korean. The unique features of the Web-based courses at Hawaii include: (1) they involve languages with non-ASCII character sets which are normally more challenging for online communications that their ASCII counterparts in terms of electronic transmission and processing; (2) the fee is affordable to most freelance and in-house translators as well as full-time students at US$ 185 and (3) they are truly global as candidates are accepted on the basis of merit as judged by their passing the screening test and the bilingual computer facilities. The first course assignment of self-introduction has provided the participants with the taste of the global classroom as postings came from students located in many different parts of the world including Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Taiwan and the US (both mainland and Hawaii). The students are divided into Chinese and Japanese tracks although their paths cross from time to time for common exercises which use English as a common language.


The course assumes that the participants are reasonably Internet/Web-savvy and able to access suggested resources as well as read/send messages in/to appropriate forums set up in the course`s Bulletin Board (BB) system. The course is practically-oriented in that participants are set translation tasks to carry out using texts selected from Web resources, which in turn are peer reviewed according to predetermined criteria. Prior to translation, each participant is required to analyse the source text (by initially paraphrasing it in their native language) in order to identify any particular problems. The selected texts for the purpose of analysis and translation are all up-to-date and topical, ranging from birth certificates to semi-technical writing on clinical depression, Office 2000 related documents and technical writing on genetic engineering. Translation tasks are assigned into both native language and non-native language although the latter is less in terms of quantity. Later in the course group work and a session on professional ethics are planned. The homepage for the course provides useful URLs, including online bilingual dictionaries and up-to-date reference materials to improve translation technique. During the course the students are also required to subscribe to a translators` mailing list through which they are expected to solve some of the translation problems as appropriate. In terms of online and offline time needed to be spent by students, the tasks themselves are to be carried out offline whereas reading of fellow students` message may take place online. Apparently real-time chat components were considered, but the time difference of the regions in which students reside made synchronous communication practically impossible. The students need to submit assignments each week via a designated BB on the Web and the time of submission is automatically recorded.


Instructors are there primarily as facilitators and the teacher/student ratio is no different from the face-to-face counterpart course. However, on the basis of experience gained from the initial spring course the current one has been designed to include more interactions among students in order to permit a breathing space in the previously excessive workload of the instructors. In comparison with the traditional extramural course, online courses offer "immediacy of communication in the same sense as electronic mail, with no need to schedule synchronous communication". Among the advantages this brings are: (1) flexible time factor where students can log in any time convenient for them; (2) students can work at their own pace within reasonable time constraints and (3) the opportunity to draw on resources such as fellow students from many different locations and mailing lists.

Contributed by Dr David Ashworth, University of Hawaii at Manoa
Originally edited by Minako O`Hogan PhD Candidate, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand


The Translation Referral Service is a not-for-profit service that is run out of the university. It refers jobs to translators and foreign students in the university. It's a good chance for some of the students to get some real life experiences in the field. This is usually paid work, however it doesn't refer to first year students because it's better to wait until they are really ready to handle projects like one from the VDI/VDE about glue dispensers for circuit board assembly. The texts that are used in class are actual translations that have been done in the past for clients. At the end of the semester, Ms. DiFranco usually does a project where she pretends to be the client, and the students have to work together as a translation team. This is the way bureaus usually handle it, and it helps the students out quite a bit. The other class she teaches is Terminology, which includes computer applications for translators. This goes over computer applications, resume-building, term databank building, and some CAT. The class works with Trados, Multiterm and Workbench.

Contributed by Carla DiFranco, Instructor GE-EN Translation, Terminology, CAT, State University of New York at Binghamton.


We work with computers during class. All homework in translation classes at GSTI is word-processed. All examinations are administered that the computer. We also offer courses at the computer in computer-aided translation and software localization (one workstation per student).

Training is very close to the market at GSTI. Therefore all texts are "real texts". Typically, they are assignments the translation professors have completed themselves or received from colleagues to round out their syllabi. All professors at GSTI are active professionals.

It is very difficult to say what the "typical class" is like. Quality of teaching is our highest priority. Classes are typically learning-centered, as opposed to either student or teacher-centered. This means that there all courses are very interactive with strong guidance from the instructor. Students are highly motivated and contribute substantially to classroom activities.

This also means that students typically work in teams in a variety of settings on a variety of projects throughout the course of study. Group dynamics vary from year to year and program to program, of course. That's part of human nature.

Contributed by David Burton Sawyer, Monterey Institute for International Studies


The classes I teach focus on French-English translation and the students are generally a mixture of Anglophones, Francophones and a certain number of Allophones, who are generally more aligned with the Anglophones than the Francophones.

Given the political tensions that occasionally arise here between the two major linguistic groups, I have occasionally experienced problems with a certain cultural intolerance among students in one group with respect to the other group. I have been uncomfortable with this polarization of the two groups in my classes.

One year, I had all my classes (three that year) play this game called BaFaBaFa that I found in the university library. Basically, you divide the class into two groups. One group belongs to an easy-going culture; the other belongs to a more rigid culture. The two groups have to learn their culture. They also determine a "punishment" to be meted out to those who offend them, culturally speaking, by breaking various taboos or whatever. They also have to learn a card game. In addition to being punished, offenders are generally kicked out of the card game for a while.

Basically, the cards are stacked so that each group needs to obtain cards from the other group in order to win. First they watch the other group and try to figure out how to deal with them. Then they send emissaries in to trade, namely get the cards they need.

I tried it with three groups, with varied results. To start with, the card game was far too complicated and I had to really simplify it (I guess no one plays cards any more). Most of the students enjoyed the game, with only a few exceptions.

The first class I tried it on had a blast. The people in the one group, adopted a methodical approach to noting down everything the other group liked or didn't like, picked up on their sensitivities right away and proceeded to whip their butts in the card game. After initially claiming that those in the first group were "just plain weird" which sort of proved the point about cultural insensitivity, those in the second group figured out that they were being offensive to the first group, but never figured out what they were doing wrong.

Another class found it really opened their eyes (this had been my most polarized group to date). The two groups in this class had decided that they would punish offenders by making them stand out in the hall facing the wall. Within ten minutes everyone in both groups had managed to offend someone in the other group (one person even offended someone in their own group) and the entire class was standing out in the hallway. Well, after we all came back into the classroom, we had a very open discussion.

I also occasionally bring in material that I have worked on and have the students critique it. (But I don't generally tend to let them know it's mine until after they've trashed it, since I would like them to be open).

Another thing I try to do is use a lot of humour. I talk about funny situations I have found myself in (translation wise), funny clients I have had to work with, and funny mistakes I have made (I like to make them realize that translation can be an awful lot of fun).

Contributed by Sheryl Curtis,Concordia University,Montreal.Quebec


The Kouvola Department of Translation offers a course giving instruction on literary translation to its students.'Practice makes the master' is the motto here as well as in many other fields. In our case, the practice has meant that Finland's biggest publisher WSOY (Werner Söderström Osakeyhtiö) has annually given the students a book to translate. - Aulis Rantanen's students have translated (and also got paid for it - a little) some thirty novels, mostly detective stories (e.g. by Agatha Christie) and thrillers (e.g. Dick Francis) over the years. At the moment a group of students is finishing a translation of a book on the history of North Africa (originally written in English), which will be published later on.Eighteen books have so far (June 1991) been published, the manuscripts of two (on computer diskettes) are awaiting publishing and one more book has been translated but is still being worked on.In addition to this, those students of mine who want to specialize in translations to do with international trade, have in the past 3-4 years translated all the interim reports of a Finnish banker (into English) for international distribution.


Ideally a student coming to the course has already taken a course in stylistic analysis and a general course in literary translation so that s/he knows something about the most common problems and the basic guidelines. There were certain general guidelines regarding e.g. punctuation and correct usage that Aulis Rantanen had previously got from the publisher (the editor responsible for the publication of our book) and passed on to the students.

The students each translated individually, on their own, a certain stretch of text (usually a chapter), or a short story (if it happened to be a collection of short stories) the whole work was discussed before doing the translation and also during the translation process.

To obtain the information necessary to translate certain passages the students e.g. got in touch with the experts of the particular field (e.g. they interviewed veterinary surgeons, fire brigade chiefs, etc.) , consulted reference books, and most recently used the Internet.

Responsible for evaluating the translations was 1) the translator her/himself 2) the whole seminar group 3) the teacher and last but not least 4) the editor. After the students handed in their translations Aulis Rantanen usually worked 1-2 months on the book to make it read like a book translated by just one person.


A one-term course consisting of one weekly session (180 minutes at a time) is far too short for translating a book for publication, not to speak of translating it in a group! In the past couple of years the situation has been somewhat easier on account of the fact that in the following term another one-term course (90-minute weekly sessions) has usually been spent on putting the finishing touches to the original translation, and this latter course may also include outsiders, i.e. students who did not take part in the actual translation process and who look at the work from a different angle. Despite the shortness of the course and despite the inevitable emphasis on the errors, the negative side, and not on the positive side, the students have generally thought that the course was worth their while. They know that they will not become literary translators after taking the course, but at least they get some vague idea of what the work really is like and may also realize that a literary translator's learning is in the practice. Ars longa, vita brevis!

Contributed by Aulis Rantanen, lecturer, University of Helsinki, Kouvola Department of Translation Studies