Translator Education and Metacognition: Towards Student-Centered Approaches to Translator Education

Translator Education and Metacognition: Towards Student-Centered Approaches to Translator Education

Álvaro Echeverri
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6615-3.ch016
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Translator training has undergone major changes over the last two decades. One of those changes is a transition from training courses organized around a series of translation difficulties to a conception of training organized around a set of skills and competencies that have emerged as the product of interdisciplinary research on translation and educational science. Helping students to take better control of their own learning is an aspect that can be influenced by knowledge produced in educational research. Metacognition as knowledge produced in educational science can contribute to this transition. This chapter highlights the metacognitive dimension of translation and shows that metacognition can help translation students to become responsible for their own learning. Finally, the author presents the results of a study that allowed him to identify and define metacognitive factors that help learners succeed in their transition from university to the labor market. Some crucial aspects of training are overlooked when it focuses exclusively on disciplinary knowledge.
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From Teacher-Centered To Student-Centered Approaches To Translation Teaching

As Dorothy Kelly (2005, pp.11-19) documented it, translation teaching has evolved simultaneously with Translation Studies and parallels the evolution of educational science. Such evolution of translation teaching is apparent in some of the approaches proposed to teach translation in the last 30 years. We will not comment on all the approaches Kelly describes in her book. Instead, we will point to and comment upon two of those approaches. The first one is Jean Delisle’s learning objectives approach and the second is Donald Kiraly’s social constructivist approach. Three reasons explain our decision to concentrate on these two approaches. First, among the approaches identified by Kelly, these two stand out as the only ones to be grounded on an established theory of learning. Second, Delisle’s and Kiraly’s approaches give us an excellent idea of the advances made by translation teaching from 1980 to 2000. Third, our choice highlights the role of learners in these two approaches.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Translator Competence: Donald Kiraly (2000 , p. 13) proposed the concept of translator competence. Besides acquiring linguistic, cultural, specialized, and other kinds of knowledge essential to the practice of translation, translation requires: “joining a number of communities such as the group of educated users of several languages, those conversant in specialized technical fields, and proficient users of traditional tools and new technologies for professional interlingual concepts.”

Translation: The concept of translation can be defined (a) as the product of translation activity (an English translation of a novel written originally in Swedish); (a) as the cognitive process that allows the transfer of a text either oral or written from one language into another; (c) as a professional service for interlinguistic and intercultural communication.

Social Constructivism: As a theory of learning, social constructivism emphasizes the role of culture and socialization in the cognitive development of individuals. Growing up within a human group, the family or a professional community of practice such as professional translators, individuals acquire the cognitive tools and knowledge shared by the community. The cognitive tools individuals get from the community should allow them to construct new knowledge on the basis of knowledge previously acquired.

Metacognition: Refers to knowledge about cognitive processes and the way people use those thought processes to perform cognitive tasks like reading, remembering, interpreting, listening, and translating. Metacognition also refers to the control people can exert over their cognitive processes by planning, monitoring and evaluating their realization. Metacognition has a social component that allows us to compare our cognitive performance to that of other people.

Active Learning: The concept of active learning denotes learning situations in which students are mentally active by performing higher-order thinking process such making predictions, analyzing, synthetizing, identifying problems and finding solutions, classifying objects according to their properties and in some cases comparing new information with what they have already learned.

Translator Education: This concept has been used in Translation Studies in opposition to translator training. Translator education is normally used to refer to the kind of instruction that students receive in the larger social contexts of universities. This kind of instruction is integral and offers students the possibility to see translation as an activity linked to societal and humanistic issues. In contrast, the concept of translator training refers to the kind of translation instruction that tries to conform to the specific demands of the profession. Translation training is usually associated with the vocational nature of translation.

Learner-Centered Instruction: The idea of learner-centered instruction implies taking into account the learner’s experiences, talents, personalities, social backgrounds, and needs. It also refers to using current knowledge about learning as a way to help learners become lifelong learners able to cope with the rapid changing world of their time.

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