Teaching Translation
Thread poster: Heike Behl, Ph.D.

Heike Behl, Ph.D.  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:43
Member (2003)
English to German
+ ...
Apr 8, 2005

I have been offered a variety of classes to teach in fall at a local university. I could take the easy way out and teach a class I have taught previously, but one of the possibilities is a class on translation, which I think would be a lot of fun. But also more work since I cannot rely on previous class plans, material, etc.

Do any of you have practical experience in teaching translation? Any recommendations for books to use in class? Any suggestions?

The class would be part of the German section in the European Studies department. In previous classes, I had one or two students that planned to become translators, but the majority is just struggling with learning German. So my major goal would not be to turn them into professional translators, but rather to teach them some language-related skills they can transfer to other ares (e.g. internet research), maybe some aspects of semantics and syntax, awareness of grammar, idiomatic expressions, machine translation, CAT tools, localization etc.

TIA for your input!


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Orla Ryan  Identity Verified
Ireland
Local time: 16:43
My recommendation Apr 8, 2005

Sounds like a great challenge

I would recommend "Becoming a Translator - an introduction to the theory and practise of translation" by Douglas Robinson. (Routledge). I have the 2nd edition from 2003.

For me, it made the practical every day world of translation real to me. It still covers a variety of linguistic theories etc, but also gives good case studies of "A day in the life of a translator".

Orla


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Wendy Cummings  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 16:43
Member (2006)
Spanish to English
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student pov Apr 8, 2005

I'm just finishing a MSc in Translation at Imperial College in London, so here is a student's point of view.

I have to say that I didn't find Douglas Robinson's book very interesting. One that i thought was better was Mona Baker "In Other Words".

During our practical sessions, we were given a text to translate each week and then discussed the issues in class. However, i found this quite lacking and monotonous.

The teachers we had were all translation professionals, with many years experience in all sorts of texts/areas. I wanted to learn from that wealth of experience.

For example the practical side of things - see all the many questions on these forums to get an idea of the FAQs that so many translators have - how to invoice, should we use translator's notes, how to find work, to use or not to use CAT tools, what software is it worth getting.

Also - how do you actually go about translating a text, from start to finish, how do you do it? should you leave 24 hours after you have finished and then read it through again with a fresher mind? What about initially underlining all the words you know you don't know, and looking for those first. Other hints, tips: eg 'Always check the date the text was written - it will help you place your translation and get all the tenses right. Or 'buy a thumb indexed address book and use it to write down all useful websites that you find'; 'always check the source of a website reference - if its an English term, check that the site is an English one, not South African or US; if its a medical term, check on .org or hospital sites'...

That kind of stuff you won't learn anywhere else, and its what will help students get off to a good start.

Hope that helps!


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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 18:43
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
Rather difficult task Apr 8, 2005

All that daily struggle we practically incounter during work is not very interesting and cannot be taught theoretically very well. If the class consists mainly of general language students I would start by comparing different translations of the same poem or novel from different translators maybe. Something about the thoughts early translators had when translating the bible?

Then I would let them write a short assay about a very specific feature of British culture so that it is understandable to a person that has never heard about it. They do not even have to write in German, the thought provoking process is possible in the source language also.
When I started to teach translating from Finnish into German my first lesson was about sauna. The Finnish students had to explain, what sauna means to them and how it can explained to foreigners.
I noticed then, that Finnish authors had nowhere explained the process of sauna in detail. Because it's futile to explain it to Finns, who know sauna from birth. I found an excellent text though by a native Russian, who writes in French, Andrei Makine, who depicts the essential sauna experience in one of his novels, situated in Siberia.

Translating cooking recepies would be fun maybe, as a practical experience, in both directions.

Regards

Heinrich


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Edwal Rospigliosi  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 17:43
Member (2004)
English to Spanish
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A suggestion Apr 8, 2005

Heike Behl, Ph.D. wrote:

Do any of you have practical experience in teaching translation? Any recommendations for books to use in class? Any suggestions?


TIA for your input!


I'd say you should look in the fora, and print those topics you find more interesting and challenging, in techniques and real-world, day-to-day work. At least, it will show your students the practical, "out-of-the-ivory-tower" world of translation.

We sometimes say we have enough experiences to write a book. I think most of us would be glad to share them with translations students.


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Nina Khmielnitzky  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 11:43
Member (2004)
English to French
I never taught but Apr 8, 2005

I alway thought what we learned about translation at the University had absolutely nothing to do with real life. I would suggest to include real life matters with examples.

Nina


[Edited at 2005-04-08 15:35]


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Natalia Elo  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 17:43
Member (2004)
English to Russian
+ ...
Very good points Apr 8, 2005

Wendy Leech wrote:


After being on the both sides of the table I second everything Wendy wrote.


Natalia


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Heike Behl, Ph.D.  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:43
Member (2003)
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks! Apr 9, 2005

Tanks for all the good points and suggestions!

I like your suggestions, Heinrich, a lot, since they really would fit my goal of raising language awareness rather than turning out professional translators. That could also be a lot of fun since often the German classes contain a couple of native speakers, which would allow more student interaction.


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