An autonomous project-based approach to advanced language learning

When:23 Sep 2014, 3pm - 5pm
Venue:Morven Brown 310 (map ref C20)
Who:Dr Mira Kim, UNSW Australia
Mira Kim

Interpreting & Translation Seminar

While the imbalance in translation students’ language competence in their respective working languages has long been a topic in the field of translator education, little experimental or classroom-based research has been undertaken on this issue to date (Kim 2012). Highlighting that ‘given the prominence in translating of language skills, relatively little has been written about language teaching for translators’, Malmkjær (2004: 4) calls for research to ‘mold language teaching in such a way that the needs of prospective translators are catered for directly’. With this background in mind, the present author developed a course in 2011 for MA students in the interpreting and translation studies program at the University of New South Wales entitled Advanced Bilingual Enhancement. This course has since been offered every year. Drawing on socio-cultural theory (SCT), the course aims to provide an opportunity for students to individually address their own linguistic needs. Thus it does not allow students to sit back and passively wait for knowledge to be transferred to them but requires them to identify the specific linguistic skills they want to develop further. Based on a needs analysis conducted at the outset of the course, students develop their own autonomous language project and implement the project over a few weeks before reporting their achievements to the class at the end of the semester. This paper outlines the course design, provides a rationale and discusses pedagogical benefits and challenges on the basis of both quantitative and qualitative data collected over three years. The discussion should benefit any language teachers and particularly those who are interested in developing methods for advanced language learners.

Dr Mira Kim is an academic and practitioner in the field of translation and interpreting. She has been teaching both practical and theoretical courses of translation studies since 2000. Her main research areas are text analysis for translation, translation quality assessment, translator education and advanced language learning.

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