Corps de l’article
The current volume, edited by Celia Martín de León and Víctor González-Ruiz, foregrounds the topic of translator and interpreter training by entertaining the interrelation between translation and interpreting (T&I) didactics and research as well as by channelling insights from recent T&I studies to pedagogical practices. The edited book consists of 11 chapters, connected by four thematic threads: 1) didactics and research, 2) cognitive and psychological perspectives, 3) quality assessment, and 4) training for professional practice. Each of the themes addresses translator and interpreter training by exploring the interface between training and research. As such, the volume could be regarded as an attempt to advocate a research-based, evidence-driven approach to translator and interpreter training.
The editors open the volume with a very useful, informative and reader-friendly introduction. Before describing each chapter, the editors take care to contextualize each of the aforementioned four themes, providing cogent rationales, cementing conceptual and theoretical backgrounds, and taking stock of the historical development of relevant research. As a reviewer, I am hooked and intrigued by the well-crafted introductory content and, as a result, cannot wait to find out what the volume has to offer.
The first theme, reflected in the first two chapters, concerns the overall relationship between didactics and research. In chapter 1, Franz Pöchhacker reflects on such a relationship in interpreter education, drawing inspiration from Jesús Sanz, one of the forerunners in interpreting studies. More specifically, Pöchhacker focuses on structural (the institutional status of interpreter education), epistemological (a teacher’s acquisition of relevant knowledge and know-how), methodological (research methods), pedagogical (moving from a teacher-dominated to student-centered approach to teaching), and personal (personal desire for knowledge) dimensions of the relationship. This chapter could be regarded as a follow-up to Pöchhacker’s (2010) previous account of the role of research in interpreter education. Chapter 2, contributed by Javier Franco Aixelá, provides a bibliometric analysis of T&I didactics, based on the Bibliography of Interpreting and Translation (BITRA). As an open access database, BITRA is impressive regarding the quantity of T&I entries and the time span it covers. One of the insights derived from the analysis is that T&I didactics has developed steadily since the 1950s, with an increasing number of publications recorded in the database. Another useful insight obtained concerns the evolution of translation as a mere language learning exercise in the early years to the current status of T&I studies as an independent academic discipline.
Three chapters (3, 4, and 5), subsumed under the second theme, examine T&I from cognitive and psychological perspectives, and relate relevant findings to T&I training. In chapter 3, Alicia Bolaños-Medina argues for translation psychology (TP) as a subdiscipline of Translatology that investigates emotional, cognitive, behavioural, and social factors influencing translators in their process. Bolaños-Medina also ventures to map out a tentative research agenda for TP, and discusses the possible implications of TP for translation teaching. Specifically, Bolaños-Medina proposes three major branches/foci of TP, with each having different research areas: 1) the instrumental focus (concerned with cultural and cross-cultural psychology, psychological testing and assessment, research design and methods), 2) the individual functioning focus (looking at differential and personality psychology, psychology of motivation and emotion, psycholinguistic and cognitive processes), and 3) the applied focus (focussing on organizational psychology, educational psychology, and social psychology). In my view, Bolaños-Medina’s contribution is systematic and thought-provoking, pointing out a very promising line of substantive inquiries and serving to expand the terrain of Translation Studies in a fruitful manner. Nonetheless, I also believe that TP poses methodological and analytical challenges to translation researchers, as investigation into the potential research areas/foci outlined above entails psychometrically sound measurement instruments and sophisticated analytics that are currently lacking in T&I studies. In chapter 4, Inna Kozlova, Marisa Presas, and Shao Hui Liang describe an exploratory, qualitative study to investigate theoretical concepts that may influence decision-making by Chinese and Western student translators during the translation process. I believe that identifying translation concepts that may govern and underlie a translator’s decision-making is a meaningful endeavour because pedagogical interventions can be developed to highlight or downplay certain concepts so as to bring positive effects to student learning. In chapter 5, Álvaro Marín García accounts for creativity in translation, based on an overview of relevant psychological and cognitive linguistic literature, as well as relates translational creativity to such concepts as expertise, automatization, metacognition, and problem-solving. Although the chapter is purely theoretical, it provokes interesting thoughts regarding future directions for research on translational creativity. For example, how is creativity related to automatization? Does expertise play a role in producing a creative rendition? Since little empirical evidence is available, there is a real need for solid research to answer these questions.
The third thematic thread, discussed in chapters 6, 7, and 8, concerns quality assessment and its relation to T&I training. In chapter 6, Tomás Conde casts light on positive feedback in translation assessment, and explores the relationship between positive feedback, translation quality, and assessor severity. Conde conceptualizes positive feedback as a teacher’s positive reaction to or comments on positive aspects of a student’s translation, such as a good choice of a target language expression. However, as indicated by the research results, the assessors in the study focused primarily on the errors in translation (that is, negative aspects). This result is interesting, not only because it runs counter to the author’s prediction, but also because it seems that the assessors may have adopted the error deduction method, which is in contrast to the two other potential methods: 1) assessors rely primarily on positive aspects of a translation to arrive at a final score, and 2) assessors base their evaluation on both positive and negative aspects of a translation. Another interesting finding is that, through a multiple regression analysis, the positive feedback predicted the quality of translations. However, it would appear that the author did not report beta values for statistically significant predictors included in the regression model. Consequently, it may prevent interested researchers from validating the regression model in the future because some critical statistical information is lacking.
Petra Klimant in chapter 7 compares different approaches to translation assessment: marking errors paired with deducting points, and marking translation phenomena. More specifically, three recommendations arising from the study are worth considering in future assessment practices: 1) recruiting more than one evaluator, 2) adopting a flexible categorization scheme of translation phenomena, and 3) doing away with grade-point systems. Chapter 8, contributed by Mara Morelli and Elena Errico, is a descriptive case study that investigates user perceived quality of interpreting performance by two trainee interpreters. It is worth noting that multiple sets of data are collected in the study. However, it seems that there has not been any deliberate and explicit effort to triangulate the different data sets for cross-fertilization. Additionally, given that interpreting quality pertains to the cooperative dynamics within a team of interpreters, as claimed by the authors, I was expecting further analytical efforts to illustrate the potential effects of team dynamics on quality assessment. It is thus a pity that the authors do not seem to touch on this issue in the rest of the chapter. On a positive note, I agree with the authors that the pedagogical practice of having trainees interpret for an authentic communicative event is the most conducive to the development of the students’ competencies. Such opportunities should be availed of by trainers to elicit formative feedback from multiple sources to scaffold a student’s future learning.
The last theme addressed in the volume relates to a translator’s socio-professional issues and their implications for training (see chapters 9, 10, and 11). Ana Muñoz-Miquel reports in chapter 9 a rigorous study in which a survey was administered to obtain empirical data about professional medical translators and their practice in order to improve the design of academic programs and curricula. The findings suggest that any future curriculum of medical translation needs to familiarize trainees with genres from the pharmaceutical sector and to incorporate different training modules to suit different types of students (namely, translators with a linguistic background versus a scientific background). Apart from these useful findings, I am impressed by the research design in which the development of the quantitative survey was informed by a qualitative exploratory study, a procedure that is known in the community of research methodologists as the sequential mixed-methods design (Teddlie and Tashakkori 2009). The use of such a design is not very common in T&I research (see Han 2018) because it poses logistical challenges and is generally time-consuming. In this sense, Muñoz-Miquel’s effort is commendable.
The last two chapters (10 and 11) have to do with developing new approaches to T&I training. In chapter 10, Agustín Darias-Marrero proposes an ICT-based approach to helping interpreting students enhance their (inter-)cultural competence, and to facilitating independent, mobile learning. In chapter 11, Bryan Robinson, María Dolores Olvera-Lobo, and Juncal Gutiérrez-Artacho describe a learner- and competence-centered approach to translator training that leverages the strengths of project-based learning, cooperative learning, and e-learning, supported by self- and peer assessment to foster higher order cognitive skills. On the one hand, both chapters bring to the fore the “digital native” students and the need to engage with them via more flexible learning platforms. On the other hand, while the training activities outlined in chapter 10 are essentially a proposal to be trialed, chapter 11 provides an account of well-designed teaching and learning modules that have been tested and proven to be useful. More specifically, I am amazed by the considerable amount of work done by the authors in chapter 11 to enhance the quality of learning experiences for the new generation of translation students. Perhaps, going forward, Robinson, Olvera-Lobo, and Gutiérrez-Artacho could elicit students’ views on the blended e-learning course environment and test their teaching model on a larger scale.
Taken together, this volume exemplifies the effort to promote a research-based, evidence-driven approach to T&I teaching and didactics. It accentuates empirical data, instead of intuition and personal experience, to inform curriculum development and pedagogical intervention. Although the volume contains some purely theoretical chapters (namely 3 and 5) that may strike certain readers as being less accessible, in my opinion, they are actually informative and stimulating, largely because these chapters pave the theoretical groundwork for future empirical research. A potential criticism that may be levelled against this volume is that many of the empirical studies reported are exploratory at best and are conducted with a relatively small group of participants. As a result, potential readers could argue that relevant findings may not be generalized to other cohorts of participants and extrapolated to wider settings. While sharing the similar concern, I would like to focus more on the positive role of these small-scale explorations in setting the scene for future research, and to expect more replication studies to be conducted to confirm or falsify previous findings. All in all, this book is definitely worth reading, especially for T&I trainers and educators as well as scholars interested in research-based T&I didactics.
This review was supported by the China Postdoctoral Science Foundation (No. 2018T110935).
Franco Aixelá, Javier (Last update: December 2018). BITRA (Bibliography of Interpreting and Translation). Open-access database. Alicante: Department of Translation and Interpreting (University of Alicante). Visited 1. December 2018, <http://dti.ua.es/en/bitra/introduction.html>.
- Han, Chao (2018): Mixed-methods research in interpreting studies: A methodological review (2004-2014). Interpreting. 20(2):155-187.
- Pöchhacker, Franz (2010): The role of research in interpreter education. Translation and Interpreting Research. 2(1):110.
- Teddlie, Charles and Abbas Tashakkori (2009): Foundations of Mixed Methods Research: Integrating Quantitative and Qualitative Approaches in the Social and Behavioral Sciences. Los Angeles: Sage.