Teaching translation technologies: as easy as 1, 2, 3 (45678910)

Teaching translation technologies: as easy as 1, 2, 3 (45678910)

It’s been fantastic to see the recent interest in teaching translation technologies! The topic seems to be everywhere:

  • when a new university programme in translation or multilingual communication is launched (which is fantastic in itself for all of us), translation technologies are among the first things mentioned;
  • when an academic or industry conference is organised, there is at least one panel looking at ways in which universities can improve the way they train their students to use and even combine tools;
  • when the industry and academia meet, after the initial round of mild abuse from the industry (I am joking, of course… but not really – you know exactly what I mean), both camps come to an understanding that doing this training in a genuinely helpful, as well as sustainable way is not as trivial as it sounds given that academics don’t usually spend all their time on holiday and professionals aren’t always available at the drop of a hat to come in and share complex technology-related expertise in a language which all trainees can understand.

In the University of Leeds Centre for Translation Studies (CTS) we have been having fun teaching translation technologies for over two decades now, thanks to the forward-thinking folks who set up the Centre and its MA programmes, and always sought to bring into the classroom the latest language tech they saw on the market: Tony Hartley, Bob Clark, Jo Drugan, Daming Wu, Mark Shuttleworth. I like to think that their vision and drive still resonate in the CTS and it has been an honour to be asked several times alongside my colleague Dr Alina Secara to share what we do and how we do it with colleagues at academic conferences or industry partners at LocWorld sessions.

Given the frequent requests for our slides after such events, we have decided to do a quick recording of our latest presentation so that those interested also get the context of what we’re talking about, and especially the jokes, which are of the highest quality (I’m kidding, of course: there are no jokes; … or I don’t think there are any… oh, well, you’ll see for yourself…).

We hope the structure of this presentation makes sense to you and offers you all the necessary information to create new and motivating activities in which your students can apply and improve their technological competences alongside language, organisational, communication and management ones. We are deeply grateful to our colleagues who share our enthusiasm for making the classroom more like the workplace by embedding useful language technologies, as well as to our partners at universities across the world for allowing their students to join ours in projects which invariably require serious time investments and always cause massive headaches, but are absolutely fantastic learning opportunities. We thank software providers for supporting our constant wacky requests for licenses for the more complex and feature-rich versions of their software, as well as language service providers for always telling us straight what they think of our module plans or activities (and usually how to make them much harder for our students). We would also like to thank our University for the solid IT support we and our students have been enjoying. Of course, we would very much like to thank our students for taking full advantage of the learning opportunities we organise for them, but also for keeping us constantly on our toes with their feedback and for sharing with us and their colleagues the new tech developments which they come across in their enthusiastic drive to learn everything necessary about how to join the industry.

We also hope that this recording will assure the language services industry that the academic training picture is not as bleak as some of their members claim (it is understandable that dramatic headlines generate more clicks, but perhaps it’s time to evolve from the blanket statements and understand the complete context, as well as keep working to improve the standard of training and the world’s – as well as potential students’ – perception of the value of enrolling into translation, intercultural mediation or multilingual communication study programmes).

For those of you in a bit of a hurry, the video has 10 (ok, 11) main sections which you will be able to jump to (together with a few useful links) if you click on the YouTube link on the bottom right of the player, and then, once in YouTube, click on the SHOW MORE link in the video information area. If you prefer to watch the video on this page, though, here is the list of chapters:

Chapter 0: Current problems with the language services industry staff recruitment and retention, as well as university training: 4:59
Chapter 1: Whom are we teaching?: 12:25
Chapter 2: Why are we teaching?: 18:47
Chapter 3: What is currently stable in an evolving industry?: 28:48
Chapter 4: Who is teaching?: 36:10
Chapter 5: What are we and should we be teaching?: 39:14
Chapter 6: Which tools should we be teaching?: 51:36
Chapter 7: How should we be teaching?: 1:30:30
Chapter 8: How can we assess?: 1:46:12
Chapter 9: Which resources do we already have?: 1:48:14
Chapter 10: Why should we bother to teach translation technologies?: 1:56:09

Hoping you find this video useful and with many thanks for prodding us to do it, here it is: