This study aims to identify the notions postgraduate learners have on translation and observe how learners and teachers communicate in the classroom. Although the difference in one’s notion of translation will significantly affect the translation process and eventually the translation s/he produces, there has been a lack of discussion on this in the translation classroom. In particular, teachers and students have different notions of what translation is and, thus, do not share the same understanding on a given translation situation or a translation product. Naturally, this negatively affects the final translation products students produce as well as sets a ceiling as to what teachers and students can achieve in the classroom.
To identify the notions students have on translation, ten learners were subjected to this study and divided into two groups. Each group was given a translation task with a different translation purpose—“translation pedagogy (professional translation according to Deisle 2002, 229)" and “pedagogical translation”—in order to identify what translation strategies learners use depending on a given translation purpose. For every translation assignment, students were instructed to submit translation briefs detailing the target readership, target text-type (or medium), translation purpose as well as the translation problems they identified along with the solutions they came up with. Based on their description, it was explored whether there were differences on their translation notion and whether such differences, if any, affected their translations. After the first assignment was completed, a second assignment was given to the students for which the translation purpose was switched between the two groups. In other words, the group that first worked on “translation pedagogy” switched to pedagogical translation, and vice versa.
The analysis reveals that the translation briefs drawn up by students is a useful tool to better understand translation learners. The study also shows that producing different translations based on the same source text with different translation purposes can enhance student understanding of the translator’s role. Finally, having students practise translation by reflecting what has been discussed in the previous class helps the teacher identify whether the students have learned and, therefore, enables deeper understanding on the communication process in the translation classroom.