Language Proficiency and Program Articulation in U.S. Translator and Interpreter Training
translator and interpreter training
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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EmbargoRelease after 08/14/2020
AbstractLanguage or linguistic proficiency plays an essential role in the field of translator and interpreter education. A certain level of proficiency is usually required for admission to translation and interpreting (henceforth, T&I) courses and programs. This means that students are expected to demonstrate a certain level of second language (L2) proficiency before enrolling in T&I classes. Students can often do this by completing specific language courses or through written or oral samples. At the program level, these course requirements establish a logical sequence in which students must develop their linguistic knowledge or acquire certain language skills before starting their T&I training. Thus, the articulation between T&I and language programs in departments that house them becomes of significant importance. Additionally, in the case of Spanish T&I programs, students’ acquisitional profiles play an important role, as these students frequently come from different linguistic backgrounds and language programs within the same departments, such as second language or heritage language programs, yet they share the same curriculum in T&I. This dissertation examines the current state of articulation, language preparedness and language development in U.S. T&I programs by collecting program information (through websites, questionnaires, interviews, focus groups) and studying the perceptions of stakeholders (program administrators/coordinators, instructional staff and students) at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Mixed-methods (quantitative and qualitative data) are used to examine the following components: i) established course prerequisites at the undergraduate level; ii) the proficiency/admission requirements used in T&I programs at the graduate level; iii) whether stakeholders perceive a mismatch between the students’ expected level of proficiency and the actual students’ level of proficiency; iv) how introductory translation/interpreting courses align with the current level of proficiency of students; and v) how students’ language needs are addressed in these programs. The results of this dissertation show that stakeholders at the graduate and undergraduate level feel that there is a mismatch between the level of proficiency expected in the translation/interpreting courses and the actual level of proficiency of students. This difference is much more notable in the case of undergraduate students. Also, stakeholders perceive that translation/interpreting courses develop students’ proficiency across undergraduate and graduate programs. However, current program practices and beliefs of administrators and instructors do not always contribute to successful language experiences in terms of aligning students’ actual proficiency and addressing their language needs throughout the analyzed programs. At the graduate level, stakeholders (instructors and students in particular) are critical of the proficiency requirements in place and inconsistencies are found the perspectives of administrators and instructors. The assumption that translator training is not about language teaching still prevails in the minds of some graduate administrators, unveiling issues of programs’ identity and reputation and loyalty to ”professional norms.” The unidirectionality of graduate programs is also seen as a problematic factor for stakeholders. At the undergraduate level, there exists a lack of articulation between prerequisite courses and introductory courses to translation and interpreting. The two main causes for the lack of articulation may stem from the lack of alignment of prerequisite courses with proficiency guidelines and the unrealistic expectations that are sometimes set in undergraduate T&I degrees. Furthermore, the findings of this study suggest that more attention to language deficiencies is necessary in certain programs. Finally, some recommendations are provided in terms of program design and delivery. These recommendations are based on best practices found in language program development/evaluation: i) T&I courses should ensure that they have a clear mission and specific learning outcomes available; ii) T&I programs should have a written plan for development and courses should be sequenced considering the actual level of proficiency of students (CEA Standards, 2019); iii) T&I program administrators should listen more carefully to their students to understand their needs (Milleret & Silveira, 2009); iv) instructors should choose texts that match students’ proficiency; v) instructors should integrate more scaffolded practices in the translation/interpreting curriculum; and vi) administrators and instructors should work collaboratively in reviewing/assessing the course and program learning outcomes so that they are aligned with the students’ needs and expectations. All in all, T&I administrators should not disregard current practices within the field of second language acquisition and applied linguistics in relation to ongoing evaluation practices in language programs (Norris et al., 2009; Norris & Davis, 2015; among others), as they would help improve the experiences of stakeholders and the overall quality of their educational programs.
Degree ProgramGraduate College