Innovation in Translation Pedagogy Using Online Collaborative Translator Training | April 2018 | Translation Journal

April 2018 Issue

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Innovation in Translation Pedagogy Using Online Collaborative Translator Training


The way of communication has been changed by technology. With the wide range of professional skills, knowledge and competencies, conventional classroom teaching alone will no longer equip translators-in-training with sufficient requirements. An experimental research methodology was utilized to answer the research questions. In the first section of this paper, it outlines why we believe e-learning has complementary roles to play in the translator education environment. We will then describe the Progressive approach in integrating online learning environment. An online translation discussion group was created in telegram and used to post texts to be translated by participants. 10 students majoring in translation studies at Jahrom University participated in the online collaborative translation project. The career divided in to three steps. With the hope of reducing rater subjectivity assessing of translation, and defining exactly what factors should be taken into account in the next steps, the rubric (Khanmohammad, 2009) was used. At the end of the career, participants responded to a questionnaire about their online collaborative experience. The results revealed that by using such a collaborative tool in the translator training workshop, the performance of future translators has been improved.

Keywords: translator training; online training; student-instructor collaborative




“The boom in translation jobs comes because of – and despite – technology.”(Jeffrey Ressner, Translation Nations 2007).

As you know, technology has changed our lives and undoubtedly has changed translation procedure. Professional translators have forgotten the old methods. translation memories, terminology data bases, translation management programs, electronic corpora and so on (Mehmet Cem Odacıogluª*, Saban Kokturkᵇ, 2015), have changed the way that professional translators work today.While the aforementioned tools are being used by professionals, students of translation studies are stillbeing taught through traditional pedagogy system. By traditional approach, we mean prevailing system which is being taught in universities of Iran. Then what’s the problem with traditional methods? The traditional methods of teaching translation in the concept of Iran, have shown their incompetence and this can be found by just a quick search about translators’ situation in society, their earnings and terrible quality of translated books in Iran. So many of the graduated students whose major has been translation studies, are working as teachers in institutes, schools and universities. The problem is that in addition to the circumstance of translation in our society, graduated students are not qualified enough to be able to work as full-time translators and make living just through translating. Then what can be done? Developing new approaches. and a shift is needed in pedagogical system. In order for meeting the needs, a new approach to the process of training translators and interpreters is needed. The approach should be able to meet translators’ needs for being qualified and competent translators who know how to translate. Students suffer from lack of practices and feedbacks. It’s not possible for an instructor to meet all of the students out of the class and talk with them about their mistakes. But as studies have shown, e-learning has presented good opportunities for translator training curriculum.So, in order to take advantage of e-learning and tackling the problems of students in learning translation, a non-credit online translation discussion group was created in telegram wherein during a semester, students practiced and learned translation through a distance learning course). The object of this paper is evaluating the effect of this approach and its’ functionality through describing the whole processand at the end of this study, we will confirm or reject the approach, consequently it can be decided to be used or not.

3.Review of literature



Translation trainers and practitioners have long pointed out the need for integrating computer-based tools and resources into translation teaching and learning (Kiraly 2000; Massey 1998; Lee-Jahnke 1998; Owens 1996).

A survey conducted in 2001 with a web search of 121 institutions of higher learning in Spain, Portugal, France, UK, Ireland, USA, Canada, where training for translators was available and ongoing, showed only a few percentage of online programs (Alcalá, 2001).

Examples of the programs where online translation courses are offered are: The Centre for Lifelong Learning at Cardiff University offers a hig hlevel French- English Distance Learning Translation Course. The Center for Interpretation and Translation Studies, at the University of Hawaii, Manoa offers online translation courses. The School of Continuing and Professional Studies at New York University offers Online Certificates in several Translation Studies, Translation Certificates and Non-Credit translation Courses.

Massey (2005) reported students’ strong satisfaction with the learner-centered collaborative assignments, tutor-student interaction and peer interaction. Seán Golden, Director of the Center for International and Intercultural Studies at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, reported research findings that e-learning tends to enhance the communicative ability of students who do not normally participate in class. It tends to motivate students in a new and different way because their audience is not the teacher but their fellow students (Pym et al, 2003). Student questionnaire and feedback sessions showed that, overall, the course was felt to be extremely useful. The most positive responses concerned its didactic aspects, structural clarity, quality and frequency of moderation, adequacy of content and comprehensiveness, although the large amount of information and resources presented in the course prompted a number of informants to request continued access for reference purposes (Jekat & Massey, 2003).

The most relevant study to our research was (Al-Jarf 2017) in which, she conducted somehow the same study but there were some gaps which we aimed to fill. For example, she investigated translation from English to Arabic, she didn’t use a distinct rubric to show the basis of the assessment. Then she used 10 students from around the world who didn’t have the same age, culture, tools, time and experience. We tried to solve these issues and conduct the research.

3.1 E- Learning and Translator Training

The use of electronic tools in training programs, in this case in the training of translators is understood as e-learning. E-learning, however, incorporates awareness that electronic tools are being used in training at all levels: even in the case of face-to-face courses, instructors communicate with students via email, and materials are increasingly made available on websites (Pym 2001). The creation and improvement of skills needed in the labor market for translators is called translator training. This field of study has been somehow neglected. There has been no significant change since Király declared more than ten years ago that "there has also apparently been no attempt to apply general pedagogical principles to translation teaching, there has been little or no consideration of learning environment, learner-instructor roles, scope and appropriateness of teaching techniques, coordination of goal-oriented curricula, or evaluation of curriculum and instructor" ( Kiraly,1995). So there is a need to adapt to the new environment in order to exploit all the advantages of technology.

3.2 Online Collaborative Translator Training

Translator training can hereby be developed in several ways. The distance learning courses where students learned translation skills and practiced translation tasks for a special period of time is the definition of online discussion group. Telegram groups are easy to access because nowadays using smartphones and social networks is something common. The role of Instructors is both as chairman and also as motivators to facilitate interactions and debates. The social interaction and attitudes can be improved by this tool. It is the reason why group has been used as an element of collaborative learning.

In this way instructors can hand out a source text where problems are already marked, the imperfect translation then can be corrected. The learners correct each other's work. Solutions proposed on the group have to be discussed and justified. When working with a group, learners have much more time to decide what to write, and so their contributions are much more reflected. Some of the group’s advantages are as follows:

  • Deepening linguistic knowledge,
  • Increasing cultural knowledge,
  • Improving research techniques, especially the technological ones
  • Revising a translation and quality assurance,
  • Strengthening learners' autonomy to learn by themselves and to assess themselves (Salinas, 2007)
  1. 4.Method
    1. 2.2dictionaries
    2. 2.3Questionnaire
    3. 2.4Khanmohammad’s rubric

4.1 Participants

Participants were ten students of Jahrom university who took part in an online collaborative translation project, their major was translator training (BA. Students of translation studies) and spoke Persian as their native language. The students’ English proficiency level and experience in translation varied to some extent. There were two authors, the first one who was the main instructor, has 10 years of experience teaching EFL, translation and interpreting courses to undergraduate students at Jahrom University and the second one was a senior student of translation studies in jahrom university who works as a freelance translator for three years and his main field for translation is Accounting.

4.2 Instrument

4.2.1 source text

The selected materials included scientific texts. The main theme of the text was accounting. The texts were taken from online book: Accounting Ethics written by Ronald Duska, Brenda Shay Duska, Julie Ragatz.

The participants were able to use variety of specialized and general offline and online English-Persian and English-English dictionaries and resources. Most of them used Baylon and GoldenDict dictionaries as their offline dictionaries. Moreover, they had access to variety of online forums.

A questionnaire was used as a means for receiving the participants idea and feeling about the approach and the effect of this approach. It had five open ended questions.

Setting standards for translation assessment has usually been problematic for authorities, theoreticians, and most commonly instructors. The rubric is the good tool for evaluation. The model of rubric which is presented here, is the detailed component-centered rubric in which the score of each component of the rubric is determined according to the percentage of its prevalence in the tables. Prior to that rubric though, the following table shows the percentages of each factor (Khanmohammad and Osanlo, 2009)


Table 1. Percentages of factors decided to be used in the rubric





Finding the right and suitable word equivalence

in T.T


TT’s genre, TL culture


Grammar and preservation of style



Addition, omission and inventing equivalents

10 %

Translations were assessed and analyzed based on this rubric.

Using translation memory software for translating and translation assessment

In the process of evaluation of the texts in the three steps, Trados Studio 2017 (a translation memory software) was used. As the software splits the sentences one by one, each and every single part of the sentences can be observed more easily. Therefore, it heightens the quality of evaluation and saves time, because the user is no longer compelled to search for the sentences or lose the parts which he or she wanted to check. Moreover, all of the equivalents can be checked through Quality Assurance service. Even a single untranslated word could be tracked easily. You can see the function of the software below. As you can see, the source text is on the left side and the translation of the participants on the right side.

  1. 2.5Telegram social network

In order for facilitating communication between authors and students, a telegram social group has been used for posting the texts, instructions, revisions and interactions.

Data collection and analysis

Online Translation group

The English texts were posted in an online translation group and the participants were asked to translate the texts.The authors encouraged and facilitated student-student and student-instructor communication and interaction. Hence, the students could express whatever they needed easily. In this article, the online discussion group was designed with scientific translation. The texts have been selected from the book “accounting Ethics” written by Ronald Duska, et al. And as the translation task is complex, authors through three steps focused on helping students recognize the different components of a written text: ideas, sentences, choice of words, syntactic and morphological aspects, making backward and forward inferences, how ideas are organized, cohesion, and using background knowledge in comprehending the source text. The online discussion group assignments focused on the process and quality of translation. At the end of each step, participants posted and reposted their translations in order for getting feedback.

Step 1

After posting the texts, the instructor asked the participants to follow some instructions: read the whole text once, then do it again paragraph by paragraph, translate the text and avoid literal translation; Then post your translations for others in order to receive their comments. The participants passed this step by following the instructions and sending instructor the translations.

Step 2

The second step had two sub-steps. In the first sub-step, one of the authors read all of the texts and pointed the errors in colors. For example, grammatical errors in yellow, deleted punctuation marks in red, miscomprehended sentences in blue and the parts of source text which haven’t been translated by the participants were underlined. Then  evaluated the translations according to the rubric which explained before, scored them. In the second sub-step, in order for more complete evaluation, the main instructor read all of the translations again, went through the whole process and scored the translations again.

Step 3

In this step, in order for participants to be aware of their own errors, translation process and other participants’ errors, following strategies were used:

  • Some sample translations which had been translated by instructor’s student in classroom, were posted and the participants were asked to compare them, analyze them and point the strength and weaknesses of each texts.
  • Students had to exchange translations and check one another’s errors.
  • The participants were asked to focus on their errors and correct them themselves by going through their own translations.
  • They were asked to explain their approach for translating at the first and second step.

Each translation revised several times to reach an acceptable level. By using the rubric and avoiding subjective assessment, a general impression of each translation was given by the instructor. Positive aspect of translation was considered always and feedbacks were given on each error. No correct translations were provided. When students submitted a good translation, the author would explain why their translation was good

At the end of the project, final phases were done. All of the translations were marked and compared to their previous versions to declare the amount of improvement (they had been assessed through the approaches which have been stated before). The average score of all participants in each step is provided below.

As you can see, the improvement is attained.



Table 3. Assessment average score


step 1

step 2

step 3





Equivalent finding




Register and TL culture




Grammar and SL style




Omission, addition, inventing equivalents




Total score






Translation Performance

At the second phase, a questionnaire was posted and the participants were asked to answer the questions. Some elements such as leadership, communication and effectiveness of teamwork were estimated based on answers. The following questions were asked and the answers are analyzed in the next section.

  1. What’s your opinion about the method of translator training which you took part in? Was it useful, waste of time or something else? Please explain in details.
  2. What are the positive points of learning translation in this way?
  3. What are the negative points of learning translation in this way?
  4. Which kind of difficulties have you encountered during this method of learning?
  5. How do you evaluate your translation performance based on this method?



The questionnaires were filled in and the results are reported qualitatively below:

Participant’s Views

Participants demonstrated positive attitude toward this approach of instruction through their responses to the questions and expressed that the experience has been fun and advantageous. It increased their motivation and self-esteem. They represented that instant feedback and extra practice helped them to recognize their weaknesses and try to remove them.

They considered themselves as professional translators and the project as a real work so they tried their bests to do it very well. They learned many skills, learned how to tackle problems and difficulties in translating structures and syntax from English to Persian. The discussion and feedbacks helped them to learn so many things because they could express their ideas about other participants’ translation, therefore, they could learn how to edit a translation and develop critical thinking. Reading several translations of the same text helped them to be able to compare, recognize strengths and weakness and observe how other persons translate and use their knowledge. Participants could access to variety of online and offline resources and along doing this project, improved their computer-based skills such as Word, Excel and some other software.

As the online class seemed to be supporting and encouraging, they felt free and convenient to make mistakes, confess them, have a conversation on them and keep on revising their drafts. For instance, some students couldn’t formulate the idea in Persian, while others found it very difficult.

All of the participants expressed their gratitude for the helpful tips and the time instructor spent in revising the translations and giving them the feedbacks. Moreover, some wished there were more participants, so they could get more feedbacks and be familiar with more thoughts and translations.


Instructor’s Views

Following elements made the process hard to deal for the authors:

  • No face to face interaction (requirement of giving more obvious and clearer feedbacks)
  • Not having enough information about the participants’ knowledge and linguistic background
  • So much time consuming
  • Teaching computer-based skills in two cases to the participants to revise their translations easier

One of the most obvious differences between online environment and classroom, is the amount of time that the instructor is compelled to spend on explaining and feedbacks. As the texts were long and needed detailed feedbacks, the absence of face to face interaction worsened the situation and it wasn’t easy to respond fast. But in the case of classroom, there is no need to spend for encouraging student. So, it’s not that much consuming.

The next challenge which was encountered, was the lack of linguistic and grammar knowledge, so they made some mistakes which were based on grammar and couldn’t receive the idea of the source text.

Some of the participants had a problem with computer-based skills, because they were used to print the texts, translate the text and revise them on the paper, so they couldn’t at least get the advantages of using Office software. Consequently, they were taught Word and excel to go over the text easier. In order to make the instruction of this process more efficient and less boring, Pym (2001) recommends increased interactivity, resource rationalization and creating a communication-based learning community to be used. Moreover, some e-learning courses ought to be designed in which students can be given the opportunity of heightened interactivity and an utmost amount of tutor-learner and learner-learner collaboration. As technology has facilitated communication through webcams and videoconferencing, exchanging information can be done easily and members of the group can debate more efficiently.

Pareto principle

The basis of this idea is pareto principle. According to this principle, 80 percent of our most successful works, result from 20 percent of our actions in which we have done our best and used utmost energy and tools. This principle says that if you pay more to save your time, you can use that time in order to gain more than what you have spent. We completed this process within a half-semester which has been so compacted and cost us more than 12 hours per a day. Participants (10 students and the two authors) worked hard, to reduce the time of learning and increase the quality of learning.


The aim of this study was investigating the functionality of teaching translation through online translation discussion group. The results show that students’ skills in translation has been improved totally. They considered themselves as professionals, they were translating scientific texts and their self-confidence heightened. Participants encompassed two other persons. The authors evaluated the translations and provided the students with feedback, and finally, they concluded that students learn translation through this approach better than traditional approach but the time that needs to be devoted to it is insufficient to allow it to be the only teaching method. Consequently, a combination of web-based and face to face teaching produces the aimed result.


There were some limitations that authors encountered. The most notably one was the number of the participants. 10 students participated in this research and were all Jahrom University students, so the situation of other universities’ students couldn’t be considered and assessed. Because there was a non-profit project and great amount of time should have been devoted to it.


We thank all of the participants who volunteered to help us in this research.


The following table is the comprehensive and detailed rubric with the aim of assessment (Khanmohammad and Osanlo, 2009).

Table 2: Translation Assessment Rubric





Accuracy (30%)


No identifiable problems of comprehension; original message

has been conveyed completely to TL readers; no omissions or

additions to information


Virtually no problems of comprehension except with the most

highly specialized vocabulary with no influence on TL readers’ understanding; some partial omissions and additions


Information is conveyed to TL readers with some difficulty due

to translator misunderstanding of some parts of original

message; apparent omissions and additions


Poor expression of ideas; numerous serious problems in

understanding ST interfere with communication of original

message; difficult to understand TT


Severe problems interfere greatly with communication of

original message; TL reader can’t understand what original

writer was trying to say


Finding equivalent (25%)


All lexical and syntactic elements have been understood;

precise vocabulary usage; words have been chosen so

skillfully that the work reads like a good publishable version


Full comprehension and good usage of a wide range of

vocabulary and structures; specialized vocabulary presents

some problems with unsuitable equivalents


General comprehension of a fair range of vocabulary although

some gaps observed; some vocabulary misused; some

evidence of plausible attempts to work around difficulties of

finding equivalents, perception, wordplay and other linguistic



Comprehension of vocabulary and structures show quite

noticeable gaps which obscure sense; problems in finding

correct vocabularies; unable to cope with specialized



Inappropriate use of vocabularies; comprehension of original

seriously impeded even with fairly everyday vocabulary and

structures; translation as a whole makes little sense


Register, TL culture (20%)


Good sensitivity to nuances of meaning, register are precisely and sensitively captured; there is a sophisticated awareness

of the cultural context; translation shows a sophisticated

command of TL lexis, syntax, and register


There is a fair degree of sensitivity to nuances of meaning,

register, and cultural context


There is a lack of sustained attention to nuances of meaning,

register, and cultural context; no awareness of register; TL

lexis, syntax, and register are not always appropriate


There is scant attention to nuances of meaning, register, and

cultural context; there are serious to severe shortcomings in

the use of appropriate lexis, syntax, and register


There is no appreciable understanding of nuances of

meaning, register, and cultural context; no concept of register

or sentence variety


Grammar and ST style (15%)


Gives the feeling that the translation needs no improvement

from grammatical and stylistic points though one or two

natural failings might be observed; native-like fluency in



Shows flair for stylistic manipulation of TL items as if text were

written in TL originally except where the language is placed

under severe pressure of comprehension; maintains

advanced proficiency in grammar; some grammatical

problems but with no influence on message


Tends to have awkward grammatical usage in TL and literality

of rendering though but not impeding sense in a significant

manner; some attempts to reflect stylistic features of the

original; some grammatical problems are apparent and have

negative effects on communication


Clumsy TL; often nonsensical grammatical usages in TL;

unnatural sounding; little attempt to reflect stylistic features of

the original; there is evidence of clear difficulties in following style; grammatical review of some areas is clearly needed


Little sense of style which often makes poor sense in TL;

knowledge of grammar is inadequate; use of TL grammar is

inadequate; severe grammatical problems interfere greatly

with message


Shifts, omissions, additions and inventing equivalents (10%)


Correct use of relative clauses, verb forms; use of parallel

structure; creative inventions and skillful solutions to

equivalents; no fragment or run-on sentence


Almost all shifts appear with partial trespass, attempts variety;

some inventions for not available equivalents in TL; no

fragment or run-on sentence


Some shifts but not consistency; awkward and odd structure;

only few run-on sentences or fragments present


Lacks variety of structure due to not preserving necessary

shifts except for few cases; little or no evidence of invention in



Unintelligible sentence structure due to completely ignoring

necessary shifts; no skillful handling of equivalents; no trace

of invention

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