Beyond the margins of academic education: identifying translation industry training practices through action research


  • Begoña Rodriguez de Céspedes University of Portsmouth


action research, translator training, automation, future proofing


Digital technologies in the translation profession have given rise to the use of automated Computer Assisted Translation (CAT) tools and Machine Translation (MT), and Translation Service Providers are embracing these innovations as part of their workflows. Higher Education Institutions are also transforming their curricula to adapt to the changes brought about by technology (Austermühl, 2006, 2013; Doherty, Kenny, & Way 2012; Doherty & Moorkens, 2013; Gaspari, Almaghout, & Doherty, 2015; Mellinger, 2017; Moorkens, 2017; O’Hagan, 2013; Rothwell & Svoboda, 2017). This research takes a phenomenological and ethnographical approach using action research as the methodology to see how the new digital skillsets are taught and used in the translation industry. As a  trainer-researcher, I stay at translation companies to immerse myself in the training given to new employees. The results of this qualitative-type research derive from observations typically involving the trainer spending a full working week at the employers’ premises. The data set is hence collected based on workplace observations within the companies and on semi-structured interviews with translation company managers. This approach permits a very full understanding of the skills needed in the translation profession. What has been learned in the workplace can be applied at university in the training of future translators. Preliminary work suggests that MT and Artificial Intelligence (AI), while transforming the profession in many ways, are not yet overriding the need of sophisticated linguistic skills from trainee translators.