University of Deusto (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2011 Proceedings
Publication year: 2011
Pages: 7105-7115
ISBN: 978-84-615-3324-4
ISSN: 2340-1095
Conference name: 4th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 14-16 November, 2011
Location: Madrid, Spain
Literature review and data obtained through an online survey appear to demonstrate that there exists a perceived need for introducing intercultural training component into Translation and Interpreting university degrees that is hardly backed up by implementation initiatives. In order to bridge this gap, developmental sequences need to be identified for the translator’s intercultural competence components; methodological proposals should be developed and piloted; and instruments to be used as pre- and post-tests to evaluate the effectiveness of training must be constructed and validated. It does not mean, however, that intercultural training activities cannot be incorporated into various courses until the above mentioned steps have been completed. Indeed, many translator trainers are developing and introducing intercultural competence related tasks and sessions. The article suggests that a way of facilitating and promoting such initiatives is to create an open online database of text fragments and other elements that can be used by translator trainers as resources for class discussions and activities.

The authors report on an initiative of creating such a resource bank carried out at the University of Deusto (Bilbao, Spain). The database includes text fragments from translated works of fiction, translated magazine articles, original periodicals and other text genres that are considered instrumental for developing student translator’s intercultural competence. Other elements included are images with verbal contents (signs and advertisements) and short personal accounts of intercultural misunderstandings (stemming from the critical incidents format idea). Text fragments and visual-cum-textual elements are in English, Spanish and Russian, the three languages for which pilot intercultural competence development courses have been designed at the university. The major strengths of the database under construction are two. Firstly, multiple teacher-friendly organisation and cross-referencing principles are used. Secondly, each category presented on the web-page contains at least some number of examples that have already been tried out in various intercultural competence development activities in translation classroom. For these items, comments on students’ reactions encountered, on what uses of a certain text fragment worked well and on uses which did not appear to work as expected in the contexts where they had been tried out are featured.

In the article, the reasons behind the database structure and the possibilities provided by the organisational principles are presented. Besides, it is explained why the points characterised above as the major strength of the database are deemed to be particularly promising for promoting the implementation of translator’s intercultural competence training initiatives, be it on the scale of the degree curriculum changes or on the scale of a sequence of activities within one particular classroom. At the same time, the point is made that the resource bank described is expected to be of use not only for translator trainers but also for foreign language teachers. The work on the database is to continue and it is hoped that this article will permit other universities interested in sharing their experience learn about the initiative and join in.
Intercultural competence, translator training, foreign language teaching, intercultural database, intercultural resource bank.