Malmkjær, Kirsten (ed.) (2004). Translation in Undergraduate Degree Programmes.
Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company, pp. vi, 202
99 € ISBN 90–272–1665–7
Translation has been increasingly taught at UK and European higher education institutions, where burgeoning undergraduate degrees and Masters programmes offer a variety of translation courses. According to Learndirect there are currently 92 undergraduate and postgraduate translation training courses in the UK alone, offered by 29 providers1). The challenging notion of how to educate, and at the same time train future professionals, therefore sits at the heart of translation studies.
Undergraduate degrees in translation are a comparatively recent phenomena and this book focuses on the particular challenges that programmes at this level face. The book, edited by an eminent translation studies scholar, looks, from several interesting perspectives at how translation studies as an established discipline has been more recently shaped to reconcile the needs of the industry (translation training) to those of academia (translation education). The contributions themselves come from international researchers and trainers of translators. Malmkjær, in her introduction, recognises how undergraduate translation programmes must have validity for both the profession (the needs of the industry) and for translation studies as an academically-based discipline. Stating the main objective of the book, she observes that "the question then is, what kind of programme would have both types of validity, and this book offers a number of models and a number of suggestions for programme content" (2).
This volume (number 59 of the Benjamins Translation Library) explores translation pedagogy through the discussion of translation training practices and provisions, new teaching methodologies and curriculum development, and research currently undertaken in the field of translation teaching. It is particularly welcome as it draws on experiences of the challenges facing translator trainers across international educational and professional cultures (Britain, Italy Slovakia, Spain) and therefore proposes diverse models of curriculum design and development, which can be applied to several translation teaching contexts and frameworks.
The book is well structured and comprehensive, with perspectives ranging from explorations of translation studies and pedagogy, language learning and testing in translation undergraduate courses, translation as language exercise, the fostering of practical skills and translation competence. The gap (and relation) between theory and practice in academically-based translation training is for example discussed by both Wills and Bernardini. Wills suggests that "translation teaching has to aim at the clarification of the relationship between the contents and patterns of translation on the one hand and the wider fields of linguistic behaviour and practical translation experience on the other"(10) and warns against too much abstraction in translation teaching. Bernardini looks instead at the "educational priority" of translation pedagogy, particularly the need for potential translators to be prepared as aware, resourceful and reflective professionals (20). Translation competence in relation to the possible roles of the translator is discussed at length by Mackenzie, whose interesting discussion of the multifaceted translation profession ranges from the role of terminologist, that of project coordinator, from that of quality manager and reviser to the acquisition of marketing skills (32). Like Mackenzie, who stresses the central role of developing translation competencies during undergraduate translation degree study, Schäffner is concerned with the importance of preparing students (trainee translators) for real life situations. She discusses translation competence in relation to two very different methodological approaches, the first teaching translation as part of a language programme, and the second, teaching translation as part of a translation programme. According to her, competence is addressed and developed "through reflective practice"(124).
Gonzáles Davies looks at the differences and similarities between undergraduate and postgraduate translation degrees, their aims and expectations, and, of course, the use of different teaching methodologies. The interest in translation by different groups of students and their participation in translation classes is looked at from different cultural perspectives by both Prelozníková and Toft, and Sewell. Here translation studies and particularly translation training, is not analysed as a full undergraduate course, but rather as a discipline and training offered as part of other courses. Prelozníková and Toft situate the Slovakian context of translation studies within the framework of both linguistics and literary studies, while Sewell explores the "lure" of translation pedagogy in the British educational system, and why students learning languages in Higher Education express a preference for translation over communicative language classes (151), with reference to psychosocial needs such as confidence, closure, loss of face and different learning styles (153).
While Beeby discusses a specific language learning syllabus designed for translators, and Bernardini, in her second contribution to the volume, looks at the role played by language corpora in translation education, the effects of the use of translation in language learning and testing is explored by both Schjoldager and Källkvist. The final, intriguing, contribution to this book, is that of Barbour, drawing from the inherent links between language learning and translation, how monolingual speakers, particularly English monolingual speakers are losing out and even getting trapped in a "monoglot-style" English in a multilingual world" (194), where even different "Englishes" are being born, where the lack of language skills, and of translation skills, will make them increasingly dependent on others interpreting this variety for them (ibid.).
In conclusion, Departments of Translation, but also of Modern Languages, may find a particular interest in this volume as the contributors offer methodologies and pedagogical tools for the development of translation and language-learning courses, and in so doing, go towards bridging the gap in translation studies between the need to prepare trainees for the professional environment (acquisition of specialist skills and competence) and the traditional role played by university education.
Manuela Perteghella, London Metropolitan University
Figures taken from Learndirect, http://www.learndirect-advice.co.uk/findacourse/ (06/12/2006). The figures only account for university courses leading to a degree. In total there are 359 translation training courses, including professional courses and short courses offered by 62 providers in the UK.
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