Productive Bilingualism and Translator Education
2. Productive bilingualism (PB)
3. Translator education (TE)
4. Relationship between TEFL and TE
5. Identity and Multicultural Competence
6. Pedagogical considerations
I do not want my house to be walled in on all sides and my windows to be stuffed. I want the cultures of all lands to be blown about my house as freely as possible. But I refuse to be blown off my feet by any.
–- Mahatma Gandhi
Chapter 1 Introduction
Recently, two essays on bilingualism and bilingual education caught my eyes with their contradictory views. One is entitled “China to promote bilingual education” on xinhuanet saying that five to ten percent of the total courses in colleges and universities across China will be taught in English, claiming that bilingual education creates a “pure English environment” for students, improves their overall linguistic ability, especially oral English and enabling them to think in a second language. The other is a reader’s letter to the editor warning Chinese government against the negative impact of bilingualism. It is entitled “From Mexicans to Chinese, from bilingualism to ‘Democracy’” on Chinadailynet saying that Chinese government has made a grave mistake in fostering bilingualism in China. In the letter writer’s opinion, Spanish speaking Mexican immigrants do not identity themselves with mainstream Americans, lobby laws and enactment of such laws favoring their group at the sacrifice of larger interest of mainstream Americans, in the end they will transform California into a Mexican province. Similarly, the rise of bilingualism and the priority on English in its educative processes will change China’s development path and political and social systems. According to the writer, such a change is what western imperialists are longing for. And it is language policy that creates Hong Kong’s uncertainty and makes China’s reunification with Taiwan more difficult.
This incident highlights the complex relationship between politics, bilingualism and identity. As an English learner and translation teacher in China, the author himself has come across ecstasies, perplexities, frustrations in the course of his English learning and teaching. In this paper, he tries to explore the feasibility of applying “productive bilingualism” theory in translator training, present the experiment findings and offer suggestions for future improvement.
The whole paper consists of six sections. Chapter 2 is about the brief introduction of productive bilingualism. It points out the limitation of existing “acculturation models” and relates bilingualism to multilingualism, bilingual education.
Chapter 3 focuses on opportunities and challenges of translator education after exploring the complexities of translation and translation competence.
Chapter 4 presents the relationship between TEFL and translator training, highlighting the similarities and differences in pairs such as pedagogical translation vs. professional translation, TTBS vs. TTPS, linguistic competence vs. translation competence.
Chapter 5 is concerned with the political and sociocultural environment of translator training and the far-reaching influence on translators’ personality and works.
The last chapter discusses the pedagogical considerations. After pointing out the problems of translation teaching, it presents the findings of our experiments and offers suggestions for future improvements.
Chapter 2 What is productive bilingualism?
The present chapter aims to tell what the “productive bilingualism” learning model is. After providing background information about bilingual, bilingualism, bilingual education, the author points out the limitation of existing “acculturation models” and explains the advantages of this new learning model.
Bilingual and Bilingualism
Bilingual is not as terrific as someone might imagine. Most of the world’s population is bilingual or multilingual. Someone may imagine a bilingual is one who speaks two languages perfectly or “two native speakers in one”. The same term might be used as a euphemism for “poor or uneducated” when it refers to a newly arrived immigrant child in U.S. school who possesses “minimal communicative skills in a second or foreign language”. (Kenji Hakuta). (Valdes, Guadalupe) Gao Yihong says her term “bilingual” includes an immigrant in English speaking countries and a Chinese EFL learner who can hardly speak complete sentences. (Gao, 2003, p.28)
“In François Grosjean’s famous phrase, ‘a bilingual is not two monolinguals in one person’” L2 users are different from monolinguals in many ways: 1) L2 users’ knowledge of a second language is not the same as that of native speakers even at advanced levels. 2) L2 users’ knowledge of their first language (L1) is not the same as that of monolingual native speakers. 3) L2 users think in different ways to monolinguals.” (Vivian Cook)
“Learning another language makes people think more flexibly, increases language awareness and leads to better attitudes towards other cultures. Indeed these have often been seen as among the educational benefits of acquiring another language.” (Vivian Cook) “All in all, learning another language changes people in many ways. The languages exist side by side in the same person, affecting both the two languages and the person as a whole. The benefits of learning a second language are becoming a different kind of person, not just adding another language.” (Vivian Cook)
As for classification of bilinguals, Tove Skutnabb-Kangas (1984: 75-80) lists the following factors to be considered: 1) pressure to become bilingual; 2) the prerequisites for bilingualism; 3) the route by which the individual has become bilingual, 4) and the consequences entailed in failing to become bilingual. With this in mind, she identifies 4 groups of bilinguals as: 1) elite bilinguals; 2) children from linguistic majorities; 3) children from bilingual families; 4) children from linguistic minorities. (requoted from Peter K Kornakov)
Bilingualism can also be classified in terms of proficiency as balanced bilingualism (equal proficiency), dominant bilingualism (one higher than the other), semibilingualism (both low efficiency), prestigious bilingualism (both high status languages), multilingualism (three or more languages). (http://www.blss.portsmouth.sch.uk/typesofbil.shtml)
The various classifications of bilinguals are the result of different interests of researchers in the field. Those who are concerned about the age of acquisition of bilingualism use the types like early bilinguals and late bilinguals and further subdivide early bilinguals into simultaneous (two languages acquired simultaneously as L1) and sequential bilinguals (L2 acquired after L1) while those who are concerned about the environment of acquisition of bilingualism use the terms like elite bilinguals (choose to study L2) and natural bilinguals (grow up in multilingual communities). (Valdes, Guadalupe )
Apart from the similar pair: simultaneous bilingualism (acquire both languages simultaneously before age three) or successive bilingualism (L1 acquired first before age three, L2 learned later) in terms of time of language acquisition, Ernie Smith makes another classification in terms of language proficiency: active bilingualism or passive bilingualism: “When a person understands two languages but speaks only one of them they are considered to be a passive bilingual. When a person both understands and speaks two languages they are considered to be an active bilingual.” ( Ernie Smith)
Bilingualism is not something we can obtain once and for all. In order to maintain at a high level, the bilingual person needs to use both languages continuously and with great effort. Peter K Kornakov holds the view that bilingualism is a dynamic process with four stages or phases: establishment of bilingualism (either in a natural way or learning by an artificial way), established or stable bilingualism, the process of losing bilingualism (forgetting or using less and less), and lost bilingualism (total loss of one or two language proficiency). (requoted from Peter K Kornakov)
Another point to be highlighted is that biculturalism is sure to appear together with the development of bilingualism. “As Baetens Beardsmore (1986: 23) remarks: "The further one progresses in bilingual ability, the more important the bicultural element becomes, since higher proficiency increases the expectancy rate of sensitivity towards the cultural implications of language use." (requoted from Peter K Kornakov) In this sense, various “acculturation models” are proposed to deal with the identity problems in the process of bilingualism, which will be discussed in the productive bilingualism section.
“Goethe, the German philosopher, once said: The person who knows only one language does not truly know that language. Bilingualism is an important linguistic and intellectual accomplishment.” (Cummins, Jim Bilingual Children's Mother Tongue: Why Is It Important for Education?)
According to Longman Dictionary of Applied Linguistics, bilingual education means: “the use of a second or foreign language in school for the teaching of content subjects”. (requoted from Sheng Deren, p.113) The ultimate purpose of bilingual teaching, in Prof. Wu Youfu’s words, is “to enable students to use foreign mode of thinking, while speaking foreign language without the interpretation process.” (Sheng Deren, p.85) There are various modes of bilingual education existing in the world, for instance, English transition mode, English infiltration mode, subject conformity mode and immersion in English mode.
In the US, bilingual education program is for immigrants whose English are too poor for them to follow English medium classes. It is transitional, for they will leave for English only program once their English is good enough. In such programs, L1 is usually considered an instrumental with which to acquire English proficiency. The development of L1 literacy is not what they care most, therefore their ultimate goal is not bilingual but monolingual – acquisition of English proficiency. (Kenji Hakuta)
As for bilingual education, contradictory views can be found. Some believes that subjects taught in L1 will not jeopardize students’ English learning, and that content knowledge newly learned in L1 will gradually transfer to their new language, English. Others, however, maintain that students will develop L1 dependency that ultimately will affect their progress in English acquisition if they don’t get full English immersion. (English Week, 1999 requoted from Sherine)
Before explaining “productive bilingualism”, the present author begins with the nature of language learning. In Gao Yihong’s opinion, language learning is a life long and lasting process with both intelligence advancement and personality growth and one “involves constant interaction between the person’s internal world and the external world” (p.25)
Similarly, foreign language learning entails culture learning as well as cognitive growth and personality development. (Gao, p.27) However, at the social psychological level bilingualism brings unfavorable consequences to the learner. This is where learners’ attitude, motivation and cultural identities exert impact on learning outcome.
According to John Schumann (1978)’s acculturation model, there are three situations of acculturation: assimilation, preservation and adaptation, which is determined by the varying degrees of social and psychological distances between the learner and the target language culture. Assimilation happens when the learner embrace target language and culture totally abandoning its own life style and values, which supposedly results in learning English well but will end in a monolingualism or monoculturalsim, for “the learner, once fully assimilated into C2, will not be able to “preserve” any of his or her L1 and C1 identities”. (Gao, p.35) Preservation is the opposite of assimilation in that the learner maintains his or her L1 and C1 identities and rejects those of the TL group, which results in poor English level pidginization or fossilization.
“The social context model by Clement (1980) assumes that L2 learning includes not only the learning of language skills but also the adoption of other patterns of behavior of the C2 community. Consequently, L2 learning is bound to result in changes of self-identity” (Gao, p.40) There are two opposing forces “integrativeness–-the desire to become an accepted member of the other culture” and “fear of assimilation–-the fear that such belonging might result in the loss of the first language and culture” (p.149) (Gao, p.40)
According to Gao, the models reviewed share the following view, i.e. “additive bilingualism” and “subtractive bilingualism”. This distinction is corresponding to Schumann’s “assimilation” and “adaptation” and Clement’s “assimilation” and “integration”. “When L2 learning involves C2 assimilation and threatens to replace C1 identity, it results in “subtractive bilingualism”. L1 together with C1 identity is replaced by L2 and C2 identity resulting in an immature personality deprived of self-awareness. When no such threat is imposed and the learner retains C1 identity while acquiring a C2 identity, the learning results in “additive bilingualism”. Each language and culture identity has half a role to play in the individual’s communicative activities resulting in a neurotic personality suffering from the split of two self-identities. (Gao, p.42 , pp.145-146)
Peter K Kornakov thinks the result of additive bilingualism or subtractive bilingualism is connected with the different status the two languages in a society. If both languages are useful and valued, additive bilingualism occurs; if one, say English, dominates the other, it will replace L1, thus subtractive bilingualism occurs.
“Landry (1987) defined the phenomena of complete additive bilingualism1 as (a) a high level of proficiency in both communicative and cognitive-academic aspects of L1 and L2; (b) maintenance of a strong ethnolinguistic identity and positive beliefs toward one's own language and culture while holding positive attitudes toward the second language; and (c) the opportunity to use one's first language without diglossia (p. 110).” (requoted from Hitomi Oketani)
In Gao’s opinion, the acculturation models suffer from such weaknesses as limitation in the type learning environment, i.e. L2 with high status, a static view of culture values, learner’s lower level needs, defective personality outcome – split and alienated self-identity, a lack of accounts of the interaction between C1 and C2 – what positive results of “additive bilingualism, in what manner. (Gao, p.50) That’s why improvement is need if the acculturation models are applied to EFL learners in China.
Having reviewed Maslow’s theory of basic need hierarchy and self-actualization, Marxist concept of social development, traditional Chinese philosophies such as Confucianism and Taoism, Gao highlights the links between them as the theoretical basis of her new L2 learning model: “the perception of the individual as endowed with self-awareness and driven to develop such awareness; a holistic view of self and society; a general tendency of transcending dichotomies.” (Gao, p.64) Therefore, A self-actualizing L2 learner is proposed to possess the following characteristics: 1) an open attitude, a genuine desire to understand the new culture and to improve one’s native culture; 2) excellent linguistic and communicative competence; 3) critical evaluation of both C1 and C2; 4) incorporation of different cultures – not a split personality, but a multicultural person with strong native culture identity; 5) creativity – capable of using L2 and C2 as an instrument to fulfill creative potentials. (Gao, pp.65-66)
Different from subtractive bilingualism (represented by a mathematical equation like “1 – 1 = 1”) and additive bilingualism (represented by “1 + 1 = 1”), Productive bilingualism (represented by “1 + 1 > 2”) is characterized by the principle “the total is greater than the sum of the parts” (Gao, p.168) Just as Gao puts it, “as the incorporation of two languages and two cultures results in the fulfillment of creative potentials. L1 is perfected as L2 proficiency increases; C1 identity is deepened and broadened while C2 empathy is gained.” (Gao, p.146)
To be more specific, the extra gains of productive bilingualism are stated as follows: 1) language aptitude enhanced; 2) better perception, analysis and evaluation; 3) keener sensitivity of other’s needs and emotions; 4) deepened C1 identity with a pluralistic view; 5) sharper creative ability; 6) personality growth. (Gao, pp.147-148) In a word, L2 learning process should be one contributing to the journey toward self-actualization, to general personality growth embodied by higher linguistic competence, communicative competence, and critical competence.
In a word, “productive bilingualism” takes into consideration the interaction between two culture systems, and emphasize the favorable development of the learners who are both creative and integrated, someone who are possessed with linguistic competence, communicative competence as well as critical competence bracing the foreign culture while retaining their own cultural heritage. The phrase “productive bilingualism”, in Gao’s words, refers to “the command of the target language and that of the native language positively reinforce each other; deeper understanding and appreciation of the target culture goes hand in hand with deeper understanding and appreciation of the native culture. In the process of learning another language and related culture, the learner’s personality becomes more open and integrated at the same time.” (Gao Yihong’s Abstract)
So far, we have discussed “productive bilingualism” model from EFL teacher’s perspective. What it means to translation teacher is the problem to be discussed in the next chapter.
Chapter 3 What is translator education?
This chapter will focus on challenges and opportunities of translator education after exploring the complexities of translation and translation competence.
Complexities of Translation
Few people may challenge the idea that in the process of rapid exchange of information and cross-cultural communication, translation is playing an increasingly important role. However, many will argue what translation actually is.
“Before translation became an individual discipline in the second half of the twentieth century, it had been (and is still) used widely in foreign language teaching contexts. The main objectives of using translation tasks in language teaching have been to illustrate and explain grammatical points and drill certain constructions specially designed for this purpose, to help the teacher in controlling whether the students understand properly often contextless linguistic units, and to provide the teacher with a handy means of large-scale testing of a variety of types of knowledge and skills (House,1981)” (Sahin, Mehmet “Assessing Translated Texts in Academe”)
In the last few decades, translation theories have witnessed dramatic change in many areas like notions of equivalence, faithfulness, the importance of context and function, the need to adopt appropriate translation strategies for different types of text, cultural interaction and conflict. “translation is now seen as a matter of relativities and concrete negotiations, rather than abstract, all-purpose rules.” (Nott, David “Translation from and into the Foreign Language”)
Consequently, translation is considered not only as a linguistic activity, but “an economic activity, an artistic activity, an intercultural communication activity, a power-political activity, and so on” (Mossop, Brian) Similarly, translators are regarded as social animals as well as cultural animals. Their task is to “to create conditions under which the source language author and the target language reader can interact with one another (Lotfipour, 1997).” (Razmjou, Leila “To be a Good Translator”)
To produce good translation, “strategic decisions have to be taken about the linguistic features, effect, genre and audience of the source text (ST), and the function and audience of the target text (TT); which of these factors are paramount? Detailed decisions involve: compromise, which should always be the result of a deliberate choice on the part of the translator; compensation for the loss of some feature and its replacement by another; stylistic contrasts between the source language (SL) and the target language (TL)” (Nott, David “Translation from and into the Foreign Language”)
“The main premise of translation is to grasp the sense of a cultural message, taking into consideration its uniqueness and its relation to the environment. Whatever is translated, it is neither words nor language but whole texts. Each text lives its own life, has its own identity, exists in a specific reality. By means of attempting to express different phenomena surrounding people, language is constantly changing and being updated. It simply lives and develops as the whole world around it does.” (requoted from Bugalski, Woitek “Translator as Foreign Language Learner”)
As was discussed above, translation is a very complicated activity with various parities and influencing factors, a mysterious process “not only based upon the translator’s bilingual competence but also his capacity of relation analysis between ST and TT.” (Jekat, Susanne J. and Gary Massey “The Puzzle of Translation Skills) Researchers interested in this field put forward various kinds of theories on what is needed to do this work well. In this section, different versions of translation competence will be presented and compared.
What is translation competence? A simple definition is “the underlying system of knowledge and skills needed to be able to translate" (PACTE Group, 2000 qtd from Jekat, Susanne J et al “The Puzzle of Translation Skills) It “comprises a number of dynamic sub-competences, each with its own cluster of components, not all of which are believed to inform bilingual language use or be a part of non-translational communication.” (Jekat, Susanne J. et al) Most commonly mentioned are subject and real-world knowledge, research skills, cognitive qualities such as creativity, and problem-solving strategies (Presas 2000: 28), the extra-linguistic, psycho-physiological, instrumental-professional, transfer and strategic competences (Neubert 1997, Neubert 2000, Massey 2001, PACTE 2000) (Jekat, Susanne J et al) A more specific and detailed list of translation competence are made by Kiraly:
· learn what tools are available to the translator, why these tools should be used, where and how they can be found, and how they can be employed with maximum efficiency and effectiveness;
· acquire useful insights into the professional practices, processes and workflows of translation;
· increase their awareness of, and sensitivity to, complex translational problems;
· evolve, both individually and in groups, appropriate problem-solving strategies in handling text-based research tasks and assignments;
· strengthen their ability to work in teams and reinforce their willingness and capacity to cooperate with others;
· develop self-reliance and independence in their studies. (Kiraly, 2000, 133-139) (qtd from Jekat, Susanne J. et al)
From the perspective of target text evaluation, Mehmet Sahin proposed another version of translation competence. According to this author, translation teachers should bear in mind three purposes of TT evaluation (“to assess the suitability of the text for its intended reader and use; to evaluate language competence (usually L2, L3); to determine levels of intercultural awareness; or to identify levels and types of translation competence” (Adab pp. 215-216 qtd from Sahin, Mehmet “Assessing Translated Texts in Academe”) to enable students to develop and improve translation skills through continuous feedback on their progress in learning different components of translation ability.” (ibid)
The six subcompetencies of translation competence are: 1) communicative competence in both languages; 2) extralinguistic competence (e.g. knowledge of the theory of translation); 3) transfer competence; 4) instrumental/professional competence; (knowledge and skills relating to professional translation practice) 5) psychophysiological competence; (the ability to apply psychomotor, cognitive and attitudinal resources) 6) strategic competence; (conscious and subconscious, verbal and non-verbal individual procedures used to solve problems encountered during the translation process) (Melis and Albir p. 280) (qtd from Sahin, Mehmet “Assessing Translated Texts in Academe”)
Taking translation as a possible profession for foreign language majors, Royal L Tinsley, Jr interprets translation competence in the background of foreign language education with job-oriented preparedness.
The first part of it is TL writing ability. “Aside from the obvious requirement that the translator be able to read and understand the source language, the most important prerequisite is the ability to write the target language with far better fluency than the average native speaker. Whereas the native speaker or writer needs to express only his own thoughts in his own language, the translator is expected to render in the target language any idea that anyone can formulate in any of the languages he translates.” (Royal L Tinsley, Jr) Actually, the author here wants to add that the importance of SL writing ability can’t be overestimated as well.
Secondly, common sense: “The translator must have enough intelligence to know that if the translation does not make sense, it is wrong.” (Royal L Tinsley, Jr)
Thirdly, subject matter: “The best translator for a specific text would be one who is an expert in the subject matter and who knows the source language well enough to know when the foreign text says something other than what the individual's expertise would lead him or her to expect it to say…Most translators must compromise with this ideal by knowing as much as possible about as many things as possible, and by knowing how to find out what they do not yet know.” (Royal L Tinsley, Jr)
Fourthly, tools: “they must also learn about the tools of their trade and how to use them. These tools are dictionaries of all kinds, encyclopedias, various types of lists and catalogs, collections of abstracts, bibliographies, and mechanical tools such as typewriters, dictating equipment, and various tools for graphics work. The computer terminal is becoming ever more important for the translator who can consult a terminology bank.” (Royal L Tinsley, Jr)
Fifthly, research skills: “Courses that acquaint him or her with the location and use of as many resource materials as possible are very helpful. Familiarity with directories of people, schools, organizations, agencies, etc., and with catalogs of products and trade names, lists of scientific and common names of chemicals, plants, animals, and insects, in addition to the reference materials mentioned above, is extremely valuable.” (Royal L Tinsley, Jr)
Last but not least important, business acumen: “From the point of view of a career, the translator should acquire some degree of business acumen…They must negotiate their wages and working conditions with each employer, sometimes for each translation.” (Royal L Tinsley, Jr)
Liu Miqing, a translation researcher in China approaches translation competence from the actual steps of translating. Therefore, his five dimensions of translation competence include editing competence. They are: 1) linguistic analysis and manipulation competence; 2) cultural interpretation and representation competence; 3) aesthetic sensitivity and representation competence; 4) code switching free from interference; 5) logical analysis and editing competence. (Liu, 2003, pp.30-34)
Christiane Nord, representative of functionalist approach or Skopos theory, thinks that translational text competence consists of meta-competence, text-production competence, text-analytical competence, and contrastive text competence. (Nord, Christiane “Translating as an Text Production Activity”)
Textual meta-competence, according to Nord, includes the following: 1) text production as a purposeful, culture-bound activity; 2) texts as means of communication used for specific purposes and addressees; 3) methods of text analysis; 4) the importance of cultural and world knowledge in text reception and text production; 5) strategies and techniques of information retrieval; 6) pragmatic conditions of text production; 7) fundamental aspects of LSP and terminology. Etc. The aim of developing meta-competence is to cultivate students’ sensitivity about the features of their own culture’s communicative behavior, and to provide them with the necessary theoretical and methodological "tools". (Nord, Christiane “Translating as an Text Production Activity”)
“Text-production competence includes the ability to use rhetorical devices in order to achieve specific communicative purposes, re-write or re-phrase texts for other audiences, purposes, media, places etc. (= "intralingual translation"), summarize texts or produce abstracts, convert figures, tables, schematic representations into text (or vice versa), produce written texts on the basis of oral information (or vice versa), revise deficient texts (quality management), and the like.” (Nord, Christiane “Translating as an Text Production Activity”)
Text-analytical competence is the proficiency in the linguaculture where the source text was produced and/or used for specific communicative purposes. It “provides the basis for decisions about (a) the feasibility of the translation assignment, (b) which source-text units are relevant to a functional translation, and (c) which translation strategy will lead to a target text meeting the requirements of the translation brief.” (Christiane Nord, 2001, p.62)
“Contrastive text competence consists of the ability to analyse the culture-specificities of textual and other communicative conventions in both linguacultures, identify (culture-bound) function markers in texts of various text types (with a particular focus on practice-oriented text types, such as business communication, computer manuals, product documentation, contracts, business and market reports, patents, image brochures, etc.), compare parallel texts, analyse and compare existing translations with each other and with the corresponding source text, evaluate and revise translations, and the like.” (Nord, Christiane “Translating as an Text Production Activity”)
In addition to aforementioned comprehensive version about translation competence, translation researchers may stress some or other particular aspects in relation to their interest or priority. For instance, compared to machine translation or CAT, Gerding-Salas holds “a human translator must make use of his/her cleverness, creativity, curiosity, intuition, ingenuity, reflection, resourcefulness, and much more; a machine, however, no matter how well-fed it is, is unable to discriminate or discern.” ( Gerding-Salas, Constanza)
Another example is translator’s cultural competence. Since translation is mostly produced for target readers who come from a culture different from ST readers, i.e. TT should be culturally appropriate. Cultural competence for translators consists of cultural awareness and cultural adaptation. The former means the translator understands what happens when he sends a message from one culture to another, i.e. to understand subtle difference of meanings and connotations between cultures, between subcultures, between situations and contexts; while the later refers to translator’s ability to adapt a text for use in a different culture. If, unfortunately, a translator does not possess such qualities, it is very likely for him to produce an inappropriate text which may lead to misunderstandings, communication breakdown and even conflict. (“Culturally Competent Translators”)
Translator’s intuition is stressed like this: “Intuition is not something to be developed in a vacuum; rather, it needs practice and a solid background. It needs both the support of theory and the experience of practice. Language intuition is a must for a competent translator.” (Razmjou, Leila “To be a Good Translator”)
In sum, the author reorganizes the aspects of translation competence in the following 5 categories:
1) Language proficiency: communicative competence in both languages (Sahin Mehmet), writing ability (Royal L Tinsley Jr.), linguistic competence (Liu Miqing), text production competence and text-analytical competence (Christiane Nord)
2) Knowledge about subject matter: extralinguistic competence (Sahin Mehmet), subject matter (Royal L Tinsley Jr.),
3) Cultural background: useful insights (Jekat Susanne J), transfer competence (Sahin Mehmet), cultural competence (Liu Miqing), meta-competence (Christiane Nord), cultural competence (“Culturally Competent Translators”)
4) Profession-related abilities: tool handling, teamwork ability (Jekat Susanne J), instrumental competence (Sahin Mehmet), tools, business acumen (Royal L Tinsley Jr.), editing competence (Liu Miqing)
5) Psychological traits: awareness and sensitivity (Jekat Susanne J), psychophysiological competence (Sahin Mehmet), common sense (Royal L Tinsley Jr.) aesthetic competence (Liu Miqing), creativity, curiosity, intuition etc (Gerdin-Salas) intuition (Razmjou Leila)
In China, graduates complain that after years of translation skills learning in class they have much difficulty in producing satisfactory translation, to say nothing of becoming professional translators; while employers also complain that they are unable to get competent translators. What happened to translation teaching in universities?
It is true some complaints are not justified because there is indeed gap between academic translation and professional translation training, and “the most arduous part of the journey [to be successful translators] starts when translation trainees leave their universities.” (Razmjou, Leila “To be a Good Translator”) As translation instructors, we should try to find out what is wrong with the present situation and where improvements can be made in the future.
The status quo of translation teaching can be summarized as follows: Translation theory and practice is a required course for English majors with two semesters totaling about 80 hours (for juniors the third year). Related courses like stylistics, western culture are usually offered after translation. Chinese culture and content courses like law, computer science etc are rarely supplied. Students have no translation training whatsoever except some E-C or C-E sentence translating exercises. Their English and Chinese language are both poor especially the writing ability. Translation instructors mostly are former English majors lack of necessary knowledge and training either as a professional translator or in subjects other than English language and literature. The textbook used is either compiled by the instructor himself or chosen to his liking. The teaching method is so called teacher-centered. A typical class is like this: the teacher give student short texts (generally 500-1000 words per week) covering various subject matter to translate, then evaluate them, and finally discuss some in great depth and detail among all the students in class. Translation testing often includes types like idiom dictation, sentence translation, translation improvement, paragraph translation, short answer question, brief comment etc.
The striking problems facing translation instructors might be what to be taught, how to teach translation skills and strategies, and how to promote students’ motivation to learn translation.
For the first problem, an essay entitled “Training translators” offers at least part of the answer. The author’s main idea includes the following: 1) The speed and accuracy of a professional like quick typing, software and web using should be stressed; 2) Content courses be included, because students’ lack of a thorough education can not be compensated through the translation texts themselves; 3) Students should have their own specialized subject areas based on their backgrounds and interests. 4) There should be sufficient but not too much theory, because “no theory at all will leave translation students without a model to use to unify their knowledge and develop a deeper understanding and appreciation for their work.” 5) The faculty should have professional translation experience and a long-term commitment to their institution and students. 6) Translation training should be professional training principle rather than an academic endeavor like Ph.D. study in linguistics or literature. (“Training Translators”)
As for the translation skills and strategies, a good answer is given by Shei Chi-Chiang, a scholar from Taiwan. According to him, translation strategies should be taught in a way that student may “view the trees and the forest at the same time.” (Shei, Chris C-C “Translation Commentary in Translation Curriculum) The student should be trained to identity a translation problem, to analyze the nature and structure of it, and to write translation commentaries accompanying translation assignments as a way of guiding him through the exploration of the translation problem space with the clues like translation methods, translation units, translation equivalents, translation norm, translation purpose, and the readership etc. As Shei puts it, “for trainee translators, the priority is to recognise the context of translation and the various constraints and tools at hand before translation strategies can be effectively used.” (Shei, Chris C-C “Translation Commentary in Translation Curriculum)
Student’s motivation is usually a problem upsetting translation instructor. Quite a few students have told me they are fully aware of the importance of translation ability and have strong desire to learn translation well but are very frustrated at the little if ever progress. This is closely connected with the teacher centered translation practice. Just as Razmjou Leila listed, incentives to make student highly motivated includes the following: student centered approach with a focus on task-based activities; friendly and supporting interpersonal environment; fully-equipped self-access learning center; opportunities for publishing translated works; authentic internships in professional settings; middle session L2 proficiency test etc. (Razmjou, Leila “To be a Good Translator”)
In the last few decades, great changes have taken place in education philosophy. More and more people come to believe that learning is a life-long endeavor in which learner’s autonomy, cognitive competence like critical thinking ability, affective growth like tolerance and empathy are emphasized. “Today’s students are encouraged to become autonomous, independent, self-sufficient life-long learners within the discipline of their specialization as well as areas parallel to it.” (Goff-Kfouri, Carol Ann “The Training of Translation Instructors: Dilemma or Challenge?”)
Naturally enough, various teaching method innovation and new models compete in attracting people’s attention. Don Kiraly’s translator education model is a case in point. In Don Kiraly’s opinion, the conventional teacher centered classroom translation training should be at least supplemented with authentic, practice-oriented work through which students can be equipped with wide range of professional and interpersonal skills, knowledge and competencies which they will need to meet the requirements of an ever more-demanding job market. “Just "translating what’s on the page" is rapidly becoming an insignificant part of the translator’s task.” (Don Kiraly “From teacher-centered to learning-centered classrooms in translator education: control, chaos or collaboration?”)
“Essential features of social-constructivist educational experiences will include authentic practice in actual professional activities, a collaborative learning environment including not only interaction among students but also the extensive involvement of the students in every aspect of the teaching/learning process, including syllabus and curriculum design, task selection, sub-task identification and assessment of their own performance and learning, as well as program effectiveness.” (Kiraly, Don “From teacher-centered to learning-centered classrooms in translator education: control, chaos or collaboration?”)
Instead of waiting to be fed by teachers, “the students have to construct their own knowledge of the profession, their own understanding of their responsibilities and rights as professionals through experience, by collaboratively participating in the authentic activities of professional translators.” (Kiraly, Don “From teacher-centered to learning-centered classrooms in translator education: control, chaos or collaboration?”)
Actually, workshop is a particularly useful form of cooperative learning in translation classroom, although instructors tend to shy away from it for fear of the possible drawbacks like low efficiency, higher noise level, inconclusive assessment etc. If instructors understand the three phases of group work – pre-group, during, and post group, specific task assignment for group members, and procedure training and discussion techniques training, such activities can be conducted effectively.
Following Kiraly’s translator education model, students, having participated actively in extensive learning-centered classrooms, will find it natural to work professionally from their experience as experienced semi-professionals. They will become self-confident autonomous learner with a sense of responsibility toward work and “metacognitive strategies” of planning, monitoring and evaluating the success of their own performance. (O’Malley et al 2001, p.44) This will be a sharp contrast to the familiar scene: timid and frustrated green hand who had spent years following teachers’ agendas and meeting teacher’s expectations, prepared to slavishly perform as dictated by their teachers, only to find tasks in the workplace is a matter totally out of their expectation, quite different from what they have learnt in classroom.
Chapter 4 The relationship between TEFL and translator training
This chapter presents the relationship between TEFL and translator training, highlighting the similarities and differences in pairs such as pedagogical translation vs. professional translation, TTBS vs. TTPS, linguistic competence vs. translation competence.
Translation teaching used to be a necessary part of TEFL. For a long time, translation had been regarded as an important means of foreign language learning, a teaching or learning method with which to deepen understanding of the source text or to demonstrate one’s understanding of the original passage. Later on, translation training is treated “as a separate entity aiming to create professional translators as important as EFL itself.” (Chi-Chiang Shei “Combining Translation into the Second Language and Second Language Learning: An Integrated Computational Approach”)
Pedagogical Translation vs. Professional Translation
This is a distinction made by Liu Heping, a scholar from Beijing Language University. pedagogical translation, as its name indicates, is for the purpose of foreign language learning, of acquiring linguistic competence, and it stops at the level of linguistic competence. Professional translation, on the other hand, seeks textual equivalence in meaning. Its purpose is to train translation skills on the basis of linguistic competence. Comprehension of the original is the foundation, the purpose of which is to translate, to communicate, and to exchange information. Professional translation begins only after acquiring foreign language competence, its main difficulty lies in appropriate cognitive knowledge and sophisticated thinking. In a word, the two have not only different functions and effects but also different mode of thinking. (Liu Heping, Chinese Translators Journal No.4 July 2000)
According to Prof. Simon S. C. Chau, there are three stages for the education of professional translation, namely, training of practitioner’s bilingual abilities, the training of practitioner’s bicultural awareness and the training of practitioner’s sensitivity, meaning transference and creative capacity for producing attractive prose. (Simon S.C. Chau “An Outline of Translation Training Program of Baptist University of Hong Kong”)
TTBS vs. TTPS
In his book entitled Translation Teaching: Practice and Theory, Prof. Liu Miqing divided translation teaching into two types: 1) TTBS – teaching of translation as a basic skill which is regarded as a test of language proficiency or one of the didactic procedures; 2) TTPS – teaching of translation as a professional skill which is a part of career plan. (Liu Miqing, 2003, p.71) The former is to improve students’ linguistic competence while the later focus on students’ translation skills and competence.
As is known to all, bilinguals are not necessarily good translators. There is a gap between good bilinguals and good translators, which should be bridged and filled by translator training program. This is what Prof. Yu Guangzhong mentioned as one aim of translation teaching – -imparting the special adjusting ability to translator trainees. (Mulei, 1999, P.116)
As for TTBS, Liu holds the idea that linguistic competence should be trained with a view of a holistic language: linguistic competence is based and accompanied with thinking; “no language skill is taught in isolation. As children listen and speak, they are thinking and they are preparing to read and write. Listening and speaking continue to be integral aspects of the reading and writing processes at all levels.” (I. M. Tiedt, 1989, qtd from Liu, 2003, p.76)
In Liu’s opinion, translation should be added as the fifth ability, a kind of art, the transfer of learning at a higher level. Firstly, translation is supposed to exert cognitive function in the process of language learning in terms of perception – the deletion, organization, and interpretation of information, memory – the storage and retrieval of perceived information, reasoning – the use of knowledge to make inferences and drew conclusions, reflection – the evaluation of the quality of ideas and solutions, and insights – the recognition of new relationships between tow or more segments of knowledge. (Liu, 2003, pp.80-81) Secondly, translation is considered a necessary device to measure the total quality of foreign language teaching, individual learner’s language proficiency, cultural awareness and logical thinking ability.
For TTBS, teachers are supposed to treat translation as supportive means, complementary means and testing means of reading and writing, make reading, writing and translating in an active interaction state. The main principles students should learn include 1) translation is meaning transference; 2) meaning is determined by context; 3) content, form and effect are interdependent; 4) translation is a purposeful activity. (Liu, 2003, pp.90-91)
TTPS is a very complicated task, a schematism consisting of five sections: 1) translation practice in which students are getting guidance of translation skills and theoretical thinking; 2) translation theory in which students are taught epistemology, axiology and methodology systematically; 3) ancillary course and lectures (optional) in which students get specialization of translation learning and be familiar with relevant subjects such as literature and aesthetic, cross-culture studies, linguistics, communication, cognitive science etc. 3) research and dissertation 4) internship in which students get first experience in authentic situations as professional translators. (Liu, 2003, p.93)
Linguistic competence vs. Translation Competence
The relation between TEFL and translation education can also be made clear by telling linguistic competence from translation competence. Let’s first find the common ground: what it means to know a language and to know how to translate into a language. “Bachman (1990) offers a hierarchical model of language competence. In this model, language competence is first distinguished into two broad categories of organisational competence and pragmatic competence. Organisational competence consists of grammatical competence – “the knowledge of vocabulary, morphology, syntax, and phonology/graphology” (p. 87) and textual competence – “includes the knowledge of the conventions for joining utterances together to form a text” (p. 88); whereas pragmatic competence contains illocutionary competence – how we use words to do things in the world and sociolinguistic competence – “enables us to perform language functions in ways that are appropriate to that context” (p. 94).” (Chi-Chiang Shei “Combining Translation into the Second Language and Second Language Learning: An Integrated Computational Approach”)
As for translation competence, i.e. requirements for professional translators, Shei adopts Sofer’s 10 requirements (pp. 33-37): 1) A thorough knowledge of both SL and TL; 2) A thorough “at-homeness” in both cultures; 3) Keeping up with the growth and change of the language and being up-to-date in all of its nuances and neologisms (self-updating); 4) Always translating from another language into one’s native language; 5) Being able to translate in more than one area of knowledge (content knowledge); 6) Having the facility for writing or speaking and the ability to articulate quickly and accurately, either orally or in writing; 7) Developing a good speed of translation; 8) Developing research skills, being able to acquire reference sources essential for producing high quality translation; 9) Being familiar with the latest high-tech developments; 10) Always checking to see what kind of a potential one’s language specialty has in a given geographic area. (Chi-Chiang Shei)
A look at the two will tempt us to say that the boundary between linguistic competence and translation competence is not clearly cut. We might say the lexical-grammatical competence, textual competence, and sociocultural competence are the same core shared by the two. But translation competence entails something else, such as researching competence – knowing how to research and using reference materials, monitoring competence – knowing how to evaluate one’s progress and edit one’s translation drafts, hi-tech competence – catching up with the latest high-tech developments, content-knowledge competence – knowledgeable in many aspects of human life etc. For a translation trainee, without the reasonably accomplished linguistic basis (the common core), the translation specific parts of competence might be of no use. However, during the translation and L2 learning activities, the two subsets of competence are closely interrelated and help each other grow. "Translation develops three qualities essential to all language learning: accuracy, clarity, and flexibility. It trains the learner to search (flexibility) for the most appropriate words (accuracy) to convey what is meant (clarity)." (qtd from Bugalski, Woitek “Translator as Foreign Language Learner”) “While translation serves to test and refine the learner’s competence in L2, the advancement in linguistic competence, on the other hand, helps to shape the learner’s performance, i.e. to produce better translation.” (Chi-Chiang Shei)
Shei’s integrated computational approach is an attempt to find a bridge to connect translation and language learning, to achieve the goal of fostering linguistic competence and translation competence at the same time. This model is based on the ideas that L2 learning and translation can converge in the same corpus-based computer assisted instruction environment. The model is of practical value in that it offers bright prospects of products like translation memory software, MT systems, CATT software etc.
The exploration on possibility of combining translation and TEFL prompt us to use productive bilingualism in translation teaching, this will be discussed in the next chapter.
Chapter 5 Political, Sociocultural Background
This chapter is concerned with the political and sociocultural environment of translator training and the far-reaching influence on translators’ personality and works if productive bilingualism model is used in translation education. To some extent, this chapter serves as a link to connect the previous chapters on the author presented productive bilingualism model of TEFL, translation education and the relationship between TEFL and translation as a comprehensive whole.
There are some personal and social reasons for bothering one’s identity. “At a personal level, to learn about our own identity is a way to be at peace with ourselves in order to freely engage in other types of learning. At a social level, the world is full of violence and crimes perpetrated against persons solely because of their identity: race, religion, national origin, ethnicity or sexual orientation. To learn about our identity is a prevention mechanism that would allow us to conceive of others as an opportunity for exchange and not as a threat.” (Bers, Marina Umaschi and Rabbi Sergio Bergman “A constructionist perspective on values: a response to postmodern fragmented identity”)
Longman Language Activator gives a definition of identity like this: “the definite character that a person or group sees themselves as having, which lets them feel different and separate from everyone else.” (edition of SFLEP 1997, p.203) In other words, one’s identity is the “relationship between the individual and group in a given environment,” (Aronson 1972) (Gao, Mobo C F “Influence of Native Culture and Language on Intercultural communication: the Case of PRC Student Immigrants in Australia”) which can be reflected in terms of ethnic origin (racial identity), citizenship (national identity), religion (religious identity) and language (linguistic identity) and culture (cultural identity).
“Language is considered to be at once a collective and a personal matter, a token of group identity as well as personal character.” (Walt Wolfram) It is “the most important among the symbolic elements transmitted from generation to generation by the reproduction of the social practice in human groups.” (Belzunce “Ortzi”, Francsico Letamendia “Reflections on the Nature of Stainless Nationalism”) “It connects people with something greater than themselves. It allows people that share a language to identify with each other although they are different.” (Mabele, Mlungisi C. “Linguistic Identity”) “You are what you speak. The language I learned as I grew up became who I was. I identified with its history and the political or social state of the time.” “Taylor states: “Language makes us declare our identity. Without language our identity stays unknown and hidden” (qtd. in “A Journey Through Narrative”)
However, linguistic identity is complex in that one may have more than one for instance, national language and ethnic community language. “Language does not always imply identity. People also use language to achieve intelligibility in a wider community than their own ethnic, regional or national one.” (Walter, Catherine “The Universal Declaration of Linguistic Rights”) In this case, the language, national or foreign is “more a means of intelligibility than a feature of identity.” (Walter, Catherine “The Universal Declaration of Linguistic Rights”)
Linguistic identity arises when we learn a new language. “A new language makes you notice things that you have always missed. It leads to an appreciation of things that you never knew existed. And, in doing so, a new person is formed; the old is not gone but is somehow different.” (Mabele, Mlungisi C. “Linguistic Identity”) In other words, the acquisition of a new language is not just a kind of practical skill that one can acquire value free. A learner has to take an attitude of engagement in order to be competent in that language. (Gao, Mobo C F)
In the previous sections, we have learned that language learning entails culture learning and that culture exerts tremendous influence on our lives, values, world outlook, and our responses to experience and everything.
Cultural identity, like linguistic identity tells who we are as individuals and what makes us different from others. Acknowledging our cultural identities makes us share and hear each other’s stories and relate to the individual struggles, joys and shared realities as well as stereotypes and discrimination. (Naomi Ross et al)
Cultural identity, like linguistic identity is not obtained naturally but acquired with effort. It is “’socially constructed’ and requires continuous negotiation among the individual, the community, and the society at large.” (Andres Torres) Therefore, education plays a crucial role in the formation and dynamic development of one’s identities by means of transferring cultural heritage. (Lasonen, Johanna “Internationalisation of vocational education: a case of a music teacher becoming multicultural”)
Foreign language learning and translation offer an excellent opportunity of intercultural communication, a very complicated and difficult process requiring multicultural competence and sensitivity to cross-cultural differences. This is because “a person’s world view, self-identity, his systems of thinking, acting, feeling, and communicating, are disrupted by a change from one culture to another.”(H. Douglas Brown “Learning a second culture” in Joyce Merrill Valdes, 1991 p.34)
Cultural conflicts occur when there are misinterpretations, ethnocentric attitudes, negative stereotypes and prejudice about individuals and groups different from us. In order to prevent such conflicts, learners have to develop intercultural sensitivity which means recognition and respect of divergent cultural influences rather than a loss of one’ own cultural identity. As a matter of fact, “The striking contrasts of a second culture provide a mirror in which one’s own cultures is reflected.” (Deena R. Levine et al, 1982, p.200)
Cultural adjustment is another result of intercultural communication. Different versions of acculturation processes are provided such as 1) five stage theory (honeymoon period, culture shock, initial adjustment, mental isolation, acceptance and integration. (Deena R. Levine et al, 1982, p.199) 2) four stages: tourist, survivor, (the learner is psychologically still anchored to the L1 identity) immigrant, citizen (requires the learner to possess a new relatively autonomous L2 identity) (William R. Acton and Judith Walker de Felix “Acculturation and Mind” in Culture Bound by Joyce Merrill Valdes) 3) six stages: “The first three stages (denial, defence and minimisation) reduce ethnocentrism, the idea that one's own group is absolutely unique. The next three developmental stages (acceptance, adaptation and integration) increase ethnorelativism, helping one to see one's group as one among many others.” (Lasonen, Johanna) In spite of differences, the highest stage of acculturation process is the same: integration. In other word, to be a multicultural person is the aim of intercultural communication or education of any kind. Definition and features of multicultural person are to be discussed in the next section.
According to Peter Adler, a multicultural person is an ideal person with both knowledge and wisdom, both integrity and direction, both principle and fulfillment, both balance and proportion, a person upholding universal harmony and reserving and appreciating the differences. (Adler, Peter S “Beyond Cultural Identity: Reflections on Multiculturalism”) His multicultural identity is “based not on a “belongingness” but on a style of self-consciousness that is capable of negotiating ever new formations of reality” (Adler, Peter S “Beyond Cultural Identity: Reflections on Multiculturalism”)
This does not mean the multicultural person’s own personal, ethic or cultural identities are of no value to him. Instead, a clear understanding of these constant and unchanging things in his life form the basis on which adaptation and adjustment are made possible. Just as William R. Acton et al puts it, “one’s experience of acculturation, from Guiora’s perspective, very much depends on the psychological health of the first language ego. If learners have strong self-esteem in their own culture, their chances of becoming true “citizens” of another culture are enhanced significantly.” (William R. Acton and Judith Walker de Felix “Acculturation and Mind” Joyce Merrill Valdes, 1991 p.28)
For EFL students in China, specially translation trainees who are at a higher stage of English learning, improved English and Chinese aptitude, increased cognitive ability, strengthened and enriched Chinese culture identity, and enhanced foreign culture empathy should be the meaning of multicultural person. This is exactly the very place where productive bilingualism model and translation education meet each other.
Chapter 6 Pedagogical considerations
In the previous chapters, we have discussed the theoretical aspects of productive bilingualism and translation education. Pedagogical considerations will be presented in this last chapter for translation instructors and learners
Productive bilingualism model maintains that L2 learning enhances L1/C1 and L2/C2 proficiency at the same time, stresses the learner’s sociocultural competence – critical thinking ability in particular and transcends the innocent player through the conscious striver to the autonomous self-actualizer. (Gao, pp.202-204)
Cultural learning and personality change is possible in China because doses of C2 exposure are both objective and subjective products. Translation trainees may try all means to create an environment without having to go abroad. “Culture at the deep level does not rely heavily on broad-range material objects or sensual experiences for its transmission.” (Gao, 2003, p.179) With a readiness to seek for C2 exposure, the learners in China can cultivate a productive orientation and develop a good sociocultural competence. Furthermore, contemporary China is undergoing profound value change indicating the dynamic nature of Chinese culture and the mutual influence between different cultures. The development of translation teaching in China witnessed the similar expansion of objectives from linguistic competence (1970s) to communicative competence (1980s) and finally to sociocultural competence (1990s till now) in TEFL. For translation learners at a higher stage of English learning, the main learning objectives are a cultivation of critical competence and cross-cultural sensitivity without which the rich cultural information of ST can never be identified and conveyed to target readers in suitable ways. As a matter of fact, this is easy to understand. “the training of C2 interpersonal skills will necessarily involve processing of C2 at the psychological level; comprehension of C2 is associated with evaluation and incorporation of C1 and C2.” (Gao, 2003, p.190) In other words, “the movement toward self-actualization personality essentially depends on the individual learner him- or herself. What educators as well as psychological professionals can do is to give the individual a push, helping him or her develop a high degree of awareness and enabling abilities for the growth.” (Gao, 2003, p.171)
Suggestions for pedagogy include the following points:
Firstly, various aspects of C2 critical competence should be included in translation curriculum, for instance, analytical thinking skill, synthetic and holistic thinking skills concerning drawing connections, finding parallelism, making an evaluation, making a judgment, coordinating related information can be made pedagogical objectives.
Secondly, Chinese culture should be stressed as a required course, this does not mean to say students’ foreign culture competence is satisfactory. On the contrary, their cross-cultural competence should be strengthened. The author merely is concerned with sharp contrast of English mania and Chinese disdain throughout all walks of life in every corner of China. “Few students endeavored to keep up with their L1 and C1 studies after entering college, and there was a tendency that the longer they stayed in college, the less attention they paid to C1 studies.” (Gao, 2003, p.195)
Thirdly, communicative competence and critical competence components should be integrated in textbook compilation. Cultural elements at the psychological level can be combined with those at the interpersonal level to make culture education systematical.
Next, teaching methods and techniques should be used in a systematic manner to cultivate cultural awareness such as workshops, model lessons, psychological testing and counseling techniques etc.
Last but not least important, classroom and extracurricular activities beneficial to the training of critical competence should be promoted such as open discussion, debates, interviews, drama etc. Newspapers and internet are important tools for both teachers and students.
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This article was originally published at Translationservices-usa.com
Published - May 2010
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