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The Future of Translation in Higher Education: Introduction to the Special Issue

  • Author(s): McLaughlin, Mairi
  • et al.

This special issue brings together a set of papers which look to the future of translation in higher education. It is a direct response to the flurry of publications which over the last two decades have highlighted and explored the value of translation as a pedagogical tool in modern language learning. In a now oft-cited early example, Cook (2007, p. 396) decried the marginality of translation in “mainstream applied linguistic and English language teaching theory” and called for a return to translation both in the language classroom and as a “major topic for applied linguistic research”. This call echoes through subsequent publications and now, at the start of the third decade of the millennium, there certainly is an ample body of scholarship, theory, and methodology that centers on translation in the language classroom. The changes are so dramatic and the signs so positive that some have gone so far as to speak of a “translation turn” in language teaching (Carreres, Muñoz-Calvo, and Noriega-Sánchez, 2017b, p. 99, our translation). On the ground, however, things are not always so rosy and we are still very far today from a situation in which translation is systematically used in language instruction, especially in the Anglophone countries where translation was long overlooked. Rather than adding to the now numerous calls for the use of translation in the language classroom, the papers in this special issue seek to move the debate forward by exploring what we refer to as the implementation problem and the question of impact. The papers exploring the implementation problem address the gap that can exist between scholarly literature where translation is now valorized and classroom practice where it can often remain marginal. The papers exploring the question of impact, on the other hand, draw attention to the wider effects that the (re-)introduction of translation into the language classroom will have in order to reimagine translation right across higher education.

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