Presentation on theme: "Setting Assignments, Assessing Performance Ian Mason Heriot Watt University."— Presentation transcript:
Setting Assignments, Assessing Performance Ian Mason Heriot Watt University
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
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’
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?
Translator Training Professional perspective Knowledge and skills Research into teaching and learning of translation/interpreting
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).
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.
Some of Kiraly’s suggestions Knowledge –Domain knowledge –Cultural knowledge –Knowledge of texts –Linguistic knowledge Ability and skills –…
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 –…
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)
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?
The Translator’s Brief Role-play, simulation A product has to be delivered to a client for a purpose by a date/time.
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…”
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.
Cover sheet (to accompany all assignments) PART 1 Translator: Text Title: Source: Number of words: Deadline:Client:Brief:
PART 2 TRANSLATOR’S REPORT Special characteristics of ST: Resources used: Comments (problems encountered; recommendations to client; etc.):
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.
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.
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.
Assessing Performance All translation teachers do it. Under-researched. Need to distinguish –Assessing quality of translations (as in translation criticism) –Grading students’ performance.
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
Current problems No translator’s brief supplied No agreed criteria for assessment ‘points-off’ marking system
What is the assessment for? Formative? –Feedback to learner Summative? –Evidence for decision-making (certification)
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.
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.
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.
Discussion Alternatives to the unseen text as a test of translator ability
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
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.
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
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.