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Cui, Ying and Zhao Wei (2014). Handbook of Research on Teaching Methods in Language Translation and Interpretation. 

Hershey: IGI Global, pp. 458, $260. ISBN: 978-1-4666-6615-3.

Edited by Ying Cui and Zhao Wei and published by IGI Global as part of their Advances in Educational Technologies and Instructional Design (AETID) Book Series, this Handbook of Research on Teaching Methods in Language Translation and Interpretation is an attempt to provide a platform in translation pedagogy for translation teachers and scholars around the world. Showing, in the preface to the Handbook, that the teaching of translation “demands a wide range of analytical and critical skills and expertise” (xvii), Cui and Wei then argue that it requires a teaching methodology different from that of traditional language teaching. Such methodology should help translation scholars and teachers overcome what they identify to be some of the main challenges in the teaching of translation. These are namely, establishing a systematic theorisation of translation pedagogy, teaching of translation theories, setting up appropriate standards and methods of evaluation, and enhancing the connection between the translation classroom and the real world. To do so, this Handbook is organised into three sections ─ “Modes and Methods of Translation Teaching,”  “Translation Competence and Evaluation” and “Theoretical Reflections on Translation Pedagogy” containing eight, five and six chapters respectively ─ that aim to bring together “studies and practices of scholars and teachers in the field of translation and include more interdisciplinary theories and a greater variety of contexts worldwide” (xiii). It also consists of notes on contributors and an index. Despite the impressive diversity of authors, each chapter is structured in a similar way with an abstract, an introduction, future research directions, a conclusion, references and key terms and definition, which makes the Handbook easy to navigate.

Section one presents a selection of “Modes and Methods of Translation Teaching” based on case studies. Chapter one, for instance, shows that contests organised as group work can have a positive impact on student translators’ motivation. The author of the study also makes the interesting point that such contests can also help prepare students for the competitive world of professional translating. Still in the field of group work and students’ motivation, chapter two focuses on applying a teaching methodology known as “Team-Based Learning” ─ which aims to develop accountability, cohesion and solidarity among fixed student workgroups ─  to translation teaching. The author of the study shows quite convincingly how this has helped her undergraduate students engage more with their course and improve the quality of their translation work. Chapters three and four focus on the teaching of stylistics and of discourse analysis as a way to foster among students the analytical skills they will need to operate better as future translators/interpreters. Chapters five and six both look at the use of corpora in the translation classroom. While chapter five explores the use of an in-depth annotated parallel corpus in an undergraduate course and concludes that, despite the complexity of the annotations, students saw the corpus as suitable and beneficial to their learning, chapter six focuses on the use of a learner corpus to help students improve their translation of passives voices and attribute clauses in English/Chinese translations. Chapter seven examines the curricular design of an undergraduate financial translation module that would enhance students’ employability by applying Dorothy Kelly’s model for curricular design. Finally, chapter eight moves the focus from translation to language pedagogy by making the point that the use of new, grammar-translation inspired activities in the language classroom can be communicative and dynamic as the integration of new technologies allows them to become collaborative. The author also argues that the use of translation for language-teaching purposes could lead to greater confidence in problem solving among students.

In section two, the emphasis moves onto translation competence and evaluation in the classroom. Chapter nine looks at the collaborative forms of learning at different stages in the translation processes in a project known as the “Trans-Atlantic and Pacific Project.” Involving American, Asian and European universities, this project establishes a long-term cross-cultural virtual team that aims to provide students with a simulated professional environment and help them overcome cultural differences. Interestingly, in this project based on collaborative learning, students are responsible for their follow students’ learning as well as their own. Using data from the project, the authors describe how it successfully enhances students’ interpersonal and intercultural competencies as well as their competence in making translation decisions. Chapter ten also focuses on students’ intercultural competence (IC) and proposes an eight-factor model of translator IC that underpins a very practical, easily adaptable ten-session pedagogical sequence to develop students’ IC. Questioning the concept of Translation Competence (TC), chapter eleven shows how an empirical, product-oriented analysis of the textual features of translations by both professionals and students seems to confirms that TC should be defined as a set of textual strategies and features as well as a set of procedural competences. Chapter twelve focuses on the importance of text typologies for the development of students’ translational competence by looking at the application of intercultural pragmatics to a Greek/German translation of an obituary. Both chapters 13 and 14 explore the challenges of evaluation in the translation classroom. While chapter 13 looks at different types of translation assessment, contrasting error-based marking scales to rubrics and concluding that error severity is key when marking translations, chapter 14 present an innovative new method based on proportionality and fairness for marking scientific and technical translations.

In section three, we move away from the practical case studies to more theoretical musings on translation pedagogy. Thus, chapter 15 reflects on the psychology of translation and shows how the first and third stages of translation (pre-translation analysis of ST and self-assessment/editing) are based on critical thinking while the second stage ─ the act of translating itself ─ rests on creative thinking. Analysing the result of a study on the metacognitive aspects that facilitate the transition of young translators into the professional world, chapter 16 makes an excellent case for student-centred translation teaching by highlighting the students’ perception that learning in an authentic situation (such as an internship) is more effective than learning in the traditional classroom. Similarly, in chapter 17, two academics present the findings of an empirical study that aimed to identify areas of improvement in the design and teaching methodology at their university so as to reinforce the link between theory and practice by fostering more positive attitudes towards translation theory among students. Perhaps the most surprising finding about this excellent study is that it shows very clearly that, despite the authors’ initial hypothesis, students do value the input of translation theory in their training as it helps them become aware of what translating means. Chapter 18 reports on a study that documents variation in student problem-solving discourse when using Integrated Problem and Decision Reporting logs and screen recording as tools for self-reflection. Chapter 19 presents a study that shows how emotional stability can be seen as a predicator of an interpreter’s self-perceived competence and as a result of that goes on to argue, rather controversially, that maybe personality traits should be considered upon admission into training programmes. Entitled “Adapting Translators and Interpreter Training to the Job Market,” chapter 20 is certainly thought-provoking in that it argues rather uncompromisingly that the majority of T&I students should be trained in a vocational way as T&I practitioners instead of researchers of translation studies.  The author argues that if translation education remains out of touch with the practice of translation, it is doomed to fail. What he calls the “ivory tower” approach prevailing in the community of T&I scholars and educators is, according to him, the main hurdle to be overcome and to that effect he prescribes a set of possible curricula that should produce more work-ready and productive translators and interpreters. Finally, chapter 21 present a great example of cross-fertilisation between research and practical training in a Master’s programme in community interpreting and translating.

Even though there is a greater emphasis on translation teaching than interpreting, this Handbook is a remarkable collection of varied studies that can offer practical ideas and solutions as well as food for thought to all T&I scholars and educators. It has successfully met its objective to include interdisciplinary insights and a wide range of contexts from around the world. A must-read for teachers, this well presented and very user-friendly Handbook should be found in the library of every T&I institution.

Jean-Christophe Penet
Newcastle University
Jean-Christophe.Penet@ncl.ac.uk