Forthcoming on April 12, 2022, The Routledge Guide to Teaching Translation and Interpreting Online is “the definitive guide for all contemporary teachers of T&I (translation and interpreting),” says Edwin Gentzler, University of Massachusetts Amherst. We interviewed the authors, Cristiano Mazzei and Laurence Jay-Rayon Ibrahim Aibo, who teaches in the NYU SPS MS in Translation and Interpreting.
The MS in Translation and Interpreting is an entirely online program, and you literally wrote the book on it! What was the impetus to write The Routledge Handbook of Teaching Translation and Interpreting Online?
At the beginning of the pandemic, Routledge was launching a new series on teaching translation and interpreting (T&I), whose first book was to focus on teaching T&I online. Cristiano and I had attended the 2019 ATISA Summer School on Translation Pedagogy whose scholars included series editor Kelly Washbourne. He had also attended our presentation on pedagogical tools for teaching online at the 2019 ATA Conference. As for Cristiano and myself, we had been teaching online for several years and we’ve always wanted to share our experiences and best practices with colleagues, so this became the right opportunity to do that.
In what ways does online instruction differ from face-to-face instruction?
Onsite classroom dynamics need to be replaced by other modes of interactions. All instructions need to be meticulously drafted from a learner’s perspective to avoid confusion and keep the learning curve to a minimum. As a consequence, designing an online course requires much more thinking and planning than a face-to-face one.
How does teaching online inform working as a translator in this digital world?
Actually, since translators nowadays work in a fully online environment, which is also true for an increasing number of interpreters since the beginning of the pandemic, teaching in an online environment only replicates what happens in our profession today. Following written or video instructions, naming files in a professional way, and submitting assignments by deadlines are things professionals do on a daily basis.
What are the advantages of teaching online? What about the disadvantages, and tactics for mitigating those disadvantages?
From the point of view of students, taking a fully online course, especially asynchronous ones, offers tremendous flexibility. For working adults with a family and for people living in regions where certains programs are not offered, taking online courses is just the only option. The same goes for instructors who might not live next to an institution offering these programs or who need the flexibility of working on their courses in their own time to be able to take assignments they would have to decline if they taught onsite. We have also felt that teaching online has made us better teachers overall, as stated above (planning ahead, detailed instructions, aligning assignments with course objectives, writing rubrics, etc.). Some of the things we used to take for granted in face-to-face instruction, such as being able to run into students down the hall and answering their questions about a specific assignment, cannot happen in an online environment. In remote learning situations, we need to be able to predict all different types of questions a student might have when they sit down to perform a translation or interpreting assignment.
What are some highlights from the guide that are important for our faculty to know?
Our hope is to make all of us better instructors, attuned to the challenges and opportunities of online learning. We share our best practices in terms of rubrics, assignments, journaling, etc., which can be used in multilingual or language-specific online classrooms. In turn, students will hopefully benefit from what we share in this book.
Cristiano Mazzei holds an MA in translation studies from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and is currently Director of Online Education for the College of Humanities and Fine Arts at the same institution.
Laurence Jay-Rayon Ibrahim Aibo holds a PhD in translation studies from the Université de Montréal. She has been translating, teaching, and interpreting in the Americas, Europe, and Africa for the past 30 years. She currently teaches in the online Certificate in Professional T&I program at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and is the author of The Politics of Translating Sound Motifs in African Fiction (2020).