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Setting Assignments, Assessing Performance Ian Mason Heriot Watt University.

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1 Setting Assignments, Assessing Performance Ian Mason Heriot Watt University

2 Translation and Language Teaching  In Europe, translation traditionally used as a language-teaching method –In secondary schools –In universities.  Typical exercises –Set of unconnected sentences –Text extract (no source given)  Instruction: Translate into English

3 Consequences  Learner focuses on grammatical and lexical items.  Learner learns to treat text without context.  Learner translates for the teacher –Shows comprehension above all –Stays very close to ST –Learns that answers are either ‘wrong’ or ‘right’

4 Feedback to learners  The ‘Fair Copy’ –Offered by teachers –Demanded by learners  For discussion: –In what ways does the ‘fair copy’ contradict our findings in this Workshop?

5 Translator Training  Professional perspective  Knowledge and skills  Research into teaching and learning of translation/interpreting

6 Change of perspective  D.Kiraly (1995) Pathways to Translation. Pedagogy and Process. Kent State University Press “An empirical description of translation processes implies the possibility of describing what a professional translator has to know and has to do (even if much of what he or she does is subconscious) to produce a high-quality translation” (p.13).

7 For Discussion  Reflecting on any professional translation (or interpreting) task you have been involved in, list the different elements of knowledge and ability you needed in order to perform the task.

8 Some of Kiraly’s suggestions  Knowledge –Domain knowledge –Cultural knowledge –Knowledge of texts –Linguistic knowledge  Ability and skills –…

9  Abilities and skills –SL passive competence –TL active competence –Transfer skills (not just inter-linguistic…) –Search skills, research skills (e.g. when is a dictionary better than the internet? Etc.) –Terminology management –Social role and understanding of responsibilities –…

10 The Translation Monitor  Kiraly’s ‘think-aloud’ research  Observes that professional translators are able to monitor their own work because they have formed a clear idea of how they should behave (standards, problem- solving, etc.)  “A major objective should be the fostering of a translator self-concept and a functioning translation monitor” (p.111)

11 How can we…  Move from teacher-centred to learner-centred approach?  Foster responsibility, independence?  Foster creativity and co-operation?  Encourage learners to treat translation as an act of communication?  Instil a sense of profession?

12 The Translator’s Brief  Role-play, simulation  A product has to be delivered to a client for a purpose by a date/time.

13 The Translator’s Brief: examples  “You have been commissioned by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation to translate the attached document(s) as part of a set of briefing papers for delegates to a conference to be held in Beijing next month. Deadline: 1 July, 1700 hours. Format: …”  “Translate for foreign visitors to PRC to enable them to understand the procedure for…”

14 The Translator’s Worksheet  Professional requirement (e.g. when working for agencies)  Encourages trainees to treat task as real  Encourages trainees to reflect on what they are doing  Offers evidence of how the trainee has proceeded.

15 Cover sheet (to accompany all assignments) PART 1 Translator: Text Title: Source: Number of words: Deadline:Client:Brief:

16 PART 2 TRANSLATOR’S REPORT Special characteristics of ST: Resources used: Comments (problems encountered; recommendations to client; etc.):

17 Team Translations  Are demanded by employers.  Are an inescapable part of professional translating.  So, teamwork is one of the skills to be trained.  Initial student reluctance.  Simulate reality as far as possible.

18 Team Translations  Project managers –Distribute tasks –Liaise between team members –Oversee production and delivery on time.  Research –As requested by translators (people, libraries, internet).  Terminology management –TL searches, specialised dictionaries, translation memories.  Translators –Produce first draft (collaborating pairs?)  Revisers –Revise and standardise (collaborating pairs?)  Editors –Final formatting, desktop publishing.

19 Follow-up  Each participant keeps a timesheet.  One-page reflective account on the experience by each participant: –What went well? –What went badly?  Trainer feedback –Collaboratively produced translation as a professional product.

20 Assessing Performance  All translation teachers do it.  Under-researched.  Need to distinguish –Assessing quality of translations (as in translation criticism) –Grading students’ performance.

21 Current problems  Unseen written texts  Selected on basis of their difficulty  Hit-and-miss  Some skills left untested  Test not (or only loosely) related to syllabus  Tests offer no evidence of candidates’ decision-making processes

22 Current problems  No translator’s brief supplied  No agreed criteria for assessment  ‘points-off’ marking system

23 What is the assessment for?  Formative? –Feedback to learner  Summative? –Evidence for decision-making (certification)

24 Assessment  Norm-referencing –Grading in relation to what is seen as average for a group: “below average”, “among the best”, etc.  Criterion-referencing –Relative mastery of particular skills and knowledge. –Levels of achievement.

25 Two further requirements  Reliability –The extent to which an assessment would produce a similar score on two different occasions or by two different assessors.  Validity –The extent to which an assessment measures what it purports to measure.

26 Reliability, validity can be improved by:  List of specifications for designing a test: –What do we want to measure? –At what level of proficiency? –How can evidence of the skill best be obtained?  Mark up test text for particular skills to be tested.

27 Discussion  Alternatives to the unseen text as a test of translator ability

28 Some ideas  The time-limited take-away.  Computer work-station with internet access.  Translation commentary  Select between alternative translations and justify choice  Revising a first-draft translation

29 Text processing/transfer skills  Text processing –Recognising (ST)/ establishing (TT):  Intertextuality (genre, discourse, text type)  Situationality (register)  Intentionality  Informativity –Organising texture  Cohesion  Coherence  Transfer –Re-negotiation by adjusting:  Effectiveness  Efficiency  Relevance To  Task (brief, etc.)  Audience design In fulfilment of a  Rhetorical purpose.

30 Assessment criteria  Graded levels of achievement against specified criteria. –Completely achieved=80%+ –Mostly achieved= 60%+ –Partly achieved= 50%+ –Minimally achieved=40%+ –Not achieved= below 40%

31 Example: a speaking test  Language –Ability to use wide range of structures –Evidence of high degree of fluency –Appropriate lexical choice –Appropriate register  Content –Ability to provide appropriate response to task –Ability to design content for audience –Ability to structure presentation –Ability to present a coherent argument –Ability to be maximally informative  Presentation –Clarity of speech; professional attitude

32 Assessment criteria  Using the speaking test criteria as a model, try to list some criteria for assessing a translation performance, using some of the categories we have discussed.

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