The why and how of an on-line symposium
Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Tarragona, Spain
More people than ever are being trained as translators and interpreters. The globalexpansion of the field since the late 1980s means that there are now some 350 specializeduniversity-level training programs world-wide, plus countless courses given in privateinstitutions and as components of Modern Language programs.This massive expansion may be a sign of success. Yet it also risks incurring afragmentation of the field, leading to a situation in which there are so many differentscenarios involved that it is difficult to find consensus on the fundamental questions of what should be taught, to whom, by whom, and how.In January 2000 the Intercultural Studies Group at the Universitat Rovira i Virgilithus organized an on-line symposium on translator training. The main aim of thesymposium was to help create some kind of consensus through dialogue on severalkey issues. The symposium was primarily addressed to practising translator-trainers,although participation was also welcome from linguists, educationalists, translators,interpreters and students.The basic philosophy behind the symposium was that changing labour marketsmean it is no longer sufficient to maintain traditional standards. The focus was thus onthe search for innovation rather than the preservation of established orthodoxy.Unless otherwise stated, the term ‘translation’ was assumed to cover all forms of translation and interpreting.The symposium was conducted in the following way:•A set of basic questions was drawn up, reflecting on the strengths andweaknesses of current teaching practice.•Five translator trainers, with four quite different cultural backgrounds, wereinvited to respond to those questions in whatever way they wanted. Thisthen gave us five basic ‘position papers’. The replies by Roberto Mayoral(Spain) and Daniel Gouadec (France), reproduced below, followed thequestions quite closely. The responses from Christiane Nord (Germany),Brian Mossop (Canada), and Don Kiraly (working in Germany, with anAmerican background) focused on more specific points, notablySkopostheorie, responses to technology, and social constructivism.•Yves Gambier (Finland, with a French background) wrote a general responseto the five position papers, locating what he felt were the main issues to beaddressed.•All these texts were made available on the internet, and participants wereinvited to send e-mail messages on any of the points raised. All messageswere circulated to all participants, without checking or mediation (i.e. thebase was an unmoderated list). This relatively free structure followed theformat of the first On-line Translation Colloquium organized by Seán Goldenat the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona in 1997. Although the initialdocuments for the symposium were in English, all languages could be used.
Innovation and E-Learning