1- Translation Teaching/training in Algeria:
Algeria was, in fact, one of the first Arab countries that started to deliver translation at university as a separate independent discipline at the Institute of Translation in 1963. The training at the moment was judged by many being an excellent one notably on the practical level and more especially when translating or interpreting between French and Arabic. Later on after, other translation departments were open like in Oran, Annaba and Constantine. A bit later, translation as a major has become a luxurious fashionable speciality that universities compete to have regardless to the quality of the training; Algeria then witnessed and, I dare to qualify it, a chaos of translation departments here and there even sometimes without having a single specialized teacher; and the curricula were then designed really adopting a copy-paste policy from different and sometimes even out dated mistaken curricula, most of the time if not always lacking syllabi. The reason for which, I bet, the ministry recently decided to put an end to all graduate translation courses in the age of the new implemented LMD system.
Translation, in Algeria, was taught and still in a very traditional way built upon practical courses of translation and interpreting where the teacher stands like a listener to students’ answers and attempts till he/she gets satisfied of one heard or written to be finally adopted and copied by the class to end the course for a period of four years, after which students are graduated with different levels depending on their natural intelligence and not mainly got from the training they went through unfortunately. And I personally witness that in some universities, translation course is made terribly anarchically as students lack the raw material which is here inevitably good language command whereas the teacher is carrying on the course to end up with no result, I confirm and I assume the whole responsibility, as the student is showing an immediate response that looks positive but truly it is not as he/she does not know what’s being done, why, and notably what for.
2 – Updating Translation Curriculum in Algeria:
One of the very prominent themes of translation studies is the pedagogy of translation which is taking a wide space of scholars’ bibliography:
“la pédagogie de traduction pour elle-même, comme fin en soi, a commencé à faire l’objet de réflexion dans le sillage de l’élaboration de la théorie de traduction dont elle participe dans une grande mesure (en étant l’une des applications pratique possible), et dont elle s’inspire » (Hellal Yamina , 1986 : 221)
Due to the above set out reasons and state account, translation curriculum in Algeria at least has to go through an update process to get it well polished to go in accordance with nowadays world and local expectations as well as needs. To update anything, a hand is to be put first on its failures and this shall serve as diagnosis to discover what’s wrong and what’s well operating, a second step later should be “needs analysis” then after that designing the new update to finish with an assessment to the outcome of the whole process to measure its efficiency.
2.1 Failures of Translation curriculum in Algeria:
My modest experience in teaching at translation as well as English language and literature department has enabled showing and discovering many failures in the Algerian translation curriculum such as and without limitation are:
- Lack of languages mastery: most of translation students have a very remarkable deficiency in languages mastery and in best cases, one can find brilliant students in one language and very poor in the other one, which should be from the beginning, regarded to as an eliminatory criterion to have access to translation class or department. This is a very significant failure, indeed, as all the other factors shall certainly be based upon it, since the mastery of languages is the raw material in the whole process of translating.
- Arabic language a last priority: most of the curricula designed in Algeria in translation give Arabic language a late position of priority, pretending that Algerians are native and their competency in this language is almost ideal, and give more care about foreign languages especially French and English, forgetting Arabic language advanced required levels and registers on one hand and denying notably translation direction that should be as per translation scholars into the Arabic language. As translator, in main, should serve his/her community first before any other one, then his/her translation should be directed into the native which is, in this case, Arabic.
- Anarchic practical courses: the courses generally given in translation courses are presented most of the time in a traditional method; no feedback is given, no analysis neither comments, mere attempts from students, selection from the teacher then approving a beautiful (not necessary correct) one, regardless to the diction, charge and register contained in ST which may lead to an automatic rendition sometimes not far from that could be made by a machine.
- Lack of catering modules or specialization: by catering modules, I here mean all the modules of speciality or typical domains or fields that may feed the translating operation, as it is commonly agreed that to translate law, the student or translation trainee needs to have a background on law to translate correctly. Some domains are needed even in general translation courses such as political discourse, communication and some law with economics.
- Lack of emphasizing modules of theoretical translation: this is, in fact, a major failure in the translation curriculum in Algeria, at all universities, translation theory course, for instance, is given just in third year as a secondary module that the student should get rid of it soon. Comparative stylistics, cultural studies, translation history and applied or contrastive linguistics are not in the curriculum at all as if not needed by the translator, hence a question to be raised at once here; what would be the difference between a specialized in translation and a common person else who masters languages if those modules at least are not involved in the curriculum.
- Lack of methodology module: translation students in Algeria, have never studied methodology at LICENCE (bachelor) level, which is very important at all, not only for conducting and elaborating research papers, but even acquiring a methodological thinking while dealing with the practical translation, and preparing for post graduate research for likely future studies second and then to have the readiness to follow the methodology of translation in an advanced stage.
The above stated failures are not exhaustive but are just illustrative to enable needed analysis and remedy of the situation.
2.2 Translation needs analysis in Algeria:
Pedagogically and methodologically speaking, one cannot deal with updating or designing a curriculum without going through needs analysis of the subject matter in hand, which is here “translation” and accordingly translation students or trainee as it were.
The needs analysis should mainly start from the study of the particularity of the region and the global situation as well as local market.
2.2.1 Translation students/trainee mainly need:
- A full mastery of two languages at least ST and TT including or not the native one,
- A full awareness of translation practical techniques and strategies,
- A cultural and world vision overview,
- A rapid positive response acquisition for interpreting especially.
- Ability to respond to market needs at all levels.
2.2.2 Scope of the translation curriculum update:
The most significant question right here is to investigate what to update in the already existing curriculum/curricula and especially how.
The update should comprise and focus mainly on three panes; the content of the curriculum and the syllabus design and third strategies to teaching:
- Content of the curriculum: a short review on the used curriculum would show, at once, that there are many modules missing, or, at least, not given that importance required to be attributed such as and not limited to: translation history, translation studies (translation theories), comparative stylistics, cultural studies (language & culture), discourse analysis, applied and contrastive linguistics. Those modules are, in fact, the ones which make the difference between a specialized in translation and another amateur for instance, as they comprise and may provide the translation learner/trainee with the necessary background and the origin of the work or discipline he/she is following; translation history for instance would show that translation as a practice is not only a new one, and gives the student the power to defend his/her discipline root starting from Tower of Babel and Rosetta Stone stories and fact. Translation studies for instance as well or as called in some universities in the world now “translation theories” comprises all the theories theorizing to the operation of translating as well as its assessment which is very important in mastering equivalences and correspondences to enable especially measuring this scientifically. Comparative stylistics shall cater the translator student/trainee to think in the two languages, at least, separately in the rendition process along with avoiding maximum of literal, word for word translation when it does not work, as it shows how each language thinks in terms of the styles and dictions, showing different engineering or architecture. Regarding cultural studies, it shows different ways of thinking expressed in different cultures, as culture is tightly related to language and expressed by means of it which is significant for the translator to be involved in the curriculum. For discourse analysis, it helps the students/ translation trainees to know and understand what’s between lines to enable successful rendition all fighting against the killing wrong word for word, in a scientific way, i-e the translation should know what he/she is doing to perform a scientific process and not only a habit. As per applied linguistics and contrastive ones, they enable students to deeply investigate units fragments of any texture and enabling a comparative contrastive view in a scientific manner to be sought in the curriculum.
Moreover, Arabic language being the national language and mother tongue in Algeria, should be given more care and significance to enable it meet the requirements, as the translator is expected to translate or interpret mainly into his/her native mother tongue as per translation scholars as well as UN regulations and usage for instance. The Arabic is not at all emphasized on in translation curriculum as if acquired by default which is not the case in fact therefore an urgent remedy is to take place via raising its (coefficient) and deepening its content in the curriculum not to be limited to some grammar course but should go further to academic writing and specialized writing as well as verbal expression notably for interpreter students/ trainees.
Arabic as well should be enhanced in translation curriculum, as the future is supposed to translate knowledge and culture needed to the Arabic reader, as no one can be perfect in translating into Arabic apart from a native.
Now that the content of the curriculum is update, is it just enough to stop here?
Truly in reality, it is not enough just to draw the general lines or headlines of the curriculum as whole, nevertheless a visit to the syllabus is a must to examine its efficiency and assess what target it can reach.
- Syllabus design in translation:
In the catering modules, the syllabus should go gradually and smoothly from simple concepts to more complicated to enable reaching self-research by students. For instance, in translation studies, the syllabus should start smoothly from its definition and concept, nature and origin, scope and branches till the latest theories of still alive scholars in the domain, and the same thing would apply for comparative stylistics for instance to start with the meaning of style and then the world vision to the real latest comparative stylistics.
Worthy to be mentioned here is that the syllabus in any of those stated above theoretical modules needs to be explained via a corpus (corpus-based teaching) to guarantee better understanding from students and then better scientific performance and analysis by the future translator.
Regarding the practical modules such as translation and interpreting, the should be notably translation divided into semesters or trimesters depending on the possibility since no specialized translation course is available so far in Algeria. Each semester or trimester to focus on a training of a text type such as political discourse, legal, economic, religious, technical, medical ….etc. of text varieties, at least the six most needed ones if in the LMD Licence that has three years as the Licence (Bachelor) of four year is no longer available to students in Algeria.
- Strategies in Teaching updated translation curriculum: as per catering modules, lecturing would be the best method along with some tutorials for some practical corpus based analysis.
Whereas for practical courses and I mean first translation to and from the mother language, the course should be done as follows:
First, the teachers is to read the text twice with his students to create a general idea in the mind of the addressee learners, one may say that this is a mere loss of time, but I really tried it with students and I noticed it works very well, after that the teacher is to be intelligent and choose a tricky question to address to the students to prove whether they got that general global idea or not.
Second, the teacher should start breaking down the text into its levels starting from the lexical one, to try and explain words/lexis contained in the between hands text, and then explain the terms if the text is specialized, playing by the role of ESP (in English) or FOS (French) teacher or whatever named if other languages are concerned. In this stage, the teacher is to give all the meanings attributed to that word/lexis or term even out of its ST context, aiming at catering students with any likely use and then to enable them compare between the word out of context and then its change inside its context interpretatively to bring up the interpretation sense in them.
Third, the teachers after finishing step to, is to go through the structural level, going through structures and notably strange or idiomatic or too technical ones, get them explained with illustrations if possible and when necessary before moving to the textual level.
After that, the teacher is to receive the first translation by students into TT from the students, then go through a self-correction; students to proofread each other basing on the first written translation on the board, by asking the following questions:
- Is there any mistake of whatsoever nature?
- Is there any missing or added value/charge?
- Is there any meaning flagrant or even small change?
- Is there any term used as non -supposed to be?
If all these operations are well managed and agreed on, the teacher then is to give his/her feedback and comments on the translation and get it polished if necessary by providing corrections or likely positive amendments or improvement, emphasizing showing differences in value and meaning between the one used by students and his/her provided option or alternative.
In this stage, the teacher should as well try to improve the style along with the language if specialized used in TT by adapting it to the type of ST; legal, technical, medical or general or whatsoever type.
Translation curriculum in Algeria is out of date, and needs surely to be updated as commonly agreed, to go in accordance with world’s translation curricula. Integrating translation discipline modules along with giving much importance to the native national language Arabic as well as getting rid of the traditional method of teaching practical translation and interpreting and substitute it with a comprehensive one that deals with all text aspects before getting it rendered into the TL as explained above, should give a fruitful result. This small experience is tried at Ouargla University in a master degree curriculum and it is giving better results than before though the students followed Licence studies in English department and not in translation.
 See الصديق سعدي (1999)