The ATA Chronicle - November/December 2023 - 21

Academics
What should students learn
in an academic program
for translators? To answer
this question, we examined
the curricula of translation
programs in Europe and
the U.S., noticing a marked
difference between the two.
In Europe, students enter
the university with the
intention of specializing
in translation studies and
with a significant degree
of multilingual knowledge.
Students' proficiency levels
are often used as entrance
criteria for joining the
program. Language skills
are then perfected and
expanded together with
the development of skills,
techniques, and technology
proficiency, making students
ready for the job market upon
completion of their degrees.
In contrast, U.S.
universities have added a
sprinkling of translation
courses to a curriculum of
language and literature,
which is why courses in
literary translation are the
dominant course offering
in American departments
of language and literature.
There are a number of
drawbacks to this approach:
1. Students only " discover "
translation at the end
of their degree-seeking
itinerary, rather than at
the beginning.
2. The professors teaching
these courses are not
translation specialists
and have a limited
understanding of the field,
which is why they only
teach literary translation.
3. Technology and the use
of CAT tools is rarely a
feature of these programs.
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4. Translation courses carry
a one-off status, with no
real pathways for students
who wish to complete
a full complement of
translation studies courses
leading to employment.
5. Departments have a
difficult time pivoting
to translation because
they lack the specialized
personnel that can
develop the full set of
courses in translation
studies that constitute the
pathway that is necessary
today for employment.
At CSULB, we've been
able to take bold steps
thanks to the financial
support we received and the
support of the university
administration. When
establishing the program,
we looked for faculty profiles
that were very different
from those possessed by
most PhDs coming out of
language and literature
programs and recruited from
well-established European
translation studies programs.
With two new, tenuretrack
hires in translation
studies with educational
and research profiles that
were different from those
of most of the colleagues
in our department, we
were able to design the
programs discussed in this
article with coursework
in such areas as machine
translation, localization,
audiovisual translation, the
application of neuroscience
research to language study,
the use of digital tools in
literary translation, and
translation work in our
course " Psycholinguistics
of Translation and
Bilingualism. " This
coursework now constitutes
a parallel path with the
already-established
coursework in language,
literature, and culture.
We wish to stress the
importance of keeping
these important humanities
components in the
curriculum since translation,
as an interdiscipline,
works best in concert with
other disciplines, namely
language, literature, and
culture, which are always
the baseline for translation
of any kind and any
specialization.
We recognize the
immense challenges that
now face language and
literature departments in
the face of short-sighted
administrators who have
come to consider language
study as peripheral to the
mission of the university,
and detrimental to the
return on investment
demands of the public and
parents when it comes to
higher education. If they
knew, instead, where the
language services industry is
headed in terms of earning
potential, they might view
our presence on campus
differently. Will we be able
to respond in time with
newly positioned programs
that combine the building
of a translation studies skill
set with the foundational
coursework in languages and
literatures? It's incumbent
upon us to think ahead and
repurpose our programs
for the need that exists
across the labor market for a
multilingual workforce with
the requisite technical skills
that the marketplace expects
our graduates to possess.
Need for Diversification
and Continual
Skill Building
Since diversification is
increasingly proving to be
an important component of
a translator or interpreter's
potential in the field, we
present our students with
the broad-based palette
of courses discussed here
from which to sample the
many facets of the field to
help them discover their
strengths. Just as important,
we seek to enhance students'
willingness to be open to
the evolution of this field,
in particular the need to
master the technologies
that will play an evergreater
role in the expanding
areas of localization and
computational linguistics.
Professionalization now
means integrating one's work
as an interpreter or translator
with specializations
such as copyright work
or transcreation. We've
incorporated this perspective
on diversification and
continual skill building into
our introductory courses in
the minor program so future
practitioners are aware of the
benefits of adopting a lifelong
learning mindset.
Integrating firsthand
experience into the translation
studies curriculum is a strength
of our programs and a feature
we intend to expand. One
of the challenges facing
programs in T&I studies is the
ability to incorporate handson,
real-life experience into
the academic preparation
that is often removed
from real-world exposure.
Fortunately, academic
institutions have begun
to realize the importance
of including experiential
American Translators Association 21
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The ATA Chronicle - November/December 2023

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