Exploring pedagogical and curricular practices in postgraduate and undergraduate translation programs in Qatar : towards the development of a localized competency-based approach
The number of translation programs within a university context has multiplied in many countries worldwide, which led to the need to question their quality (Gambier, 2012). In the Arab world, especially in the Gulf region, translator education is an emerging practice. For instance, in Qatar, the first translation programs were launched in 2012 at both Qatar University (BA minor in translation ) and the MA programs in translation studies at the Translation and Interpreting Institute (College of Humanities and Social Sciences; Hammad bin Khalifa University). Arabic scholars in the field of translation have highlighted the ongoing curriculum and pedagogical issues at the regional level. Many university programs in the Gulf region prefer to import foreign curriculum packages rather than invest in creating localized programs (Badry & Willoughly, 2015); hence, there is a need for programs relevant to the local and regional communities and contexts (Taibi, 2016). This could only be done through ground exploratory research to identify the problems and address them through a consensus process between the various stakeholders: academia, society and the profession. This doctoral thesis is a result of an exploratory and descriptive study carried out on the two existing translation programs in Qatar (a postgraduate program at the translation and interpreting Institute at Hammad Bin Khalifa University; and an undergraduate program at Qatar University) to identify the type of pedagogical and curricular practices in these institutions and align them with the findings from the practices in the translation and interpreting professions as well as translation professionals' perceptions in the state of Qatar. The present study has focused on the following objectives: 1) the identification and description of the professional translator profile in the Qatari context; 2) the identification of the pedagogical (teaching and learning) practices used in translation programs at Arabic universities in the Gulf region, such as Qatar; 3) knowledge required according to the opinions of professionals working in the field, and the competencies that these professionals believe should be developed in a translation program; and 4) a description of the necessary conditions to integrate such professional requirements in these types of professionally-oriented programs. The findings obtained from the study suggest that a knowledge of the working environments of translators and the required knowledge, skills and abilities to exercise the translation profession is crucial to a translation instructor as well as to a translation or interpreting curriculum developer. Such an awareness would result in the transfer of a different meaning of translation and translator status in society than the one it carries at present in Qatar. Also, there is a need to update the pedagogical and curriculum practices within a university context in Qatar to further integrate professionally oriented types of content, and adopt innovative pedagogies to educate multilingual service providers in the country. Although participants claimed that they are willing to integrate dynamic teaching practices, at the same time they also declared that they would keep the same curricular practices privileged by the institutions. The Interviewees from the profession reported the poor students’ performance in an internship in the local context. Other interviewed practising translators - who graduated from one of the translation programs in Qatar- suggested that the current modes of instruction need to be revised and that more situated, project and problem-based types of activities need to be implemented in the classroom. The results may be useful for teaching staff, instructors, administrators, and the management to improve and reconsider their existing curriculum and pedagogical practices within a university-based program by including the integration of research-based professional practices in the initial design of courses. The positive and consensus-based partnership between academic instances and the professional practitioners is a key solution in this regard. The addition or deletion of courses in a program and the focus on the importance of textbooks without diagnosing the social and community needs, as well the lack of a clear framework to assess faculty or instructor competency and eligibility to educate and train translators, has led to quality issues in existing programs.
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