Ongoing projects

"Competence Levelling in the Acquisition of Translation Competence in Written Translation", Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad, 2014-2017 (FFI2013-42522-P) See project data below.

- TREC - Thematic Network on Empirical and Experimental Research in Translation. Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación (FFI2010-11995-E, 1/9/2011 - 31/12/2013) Web

- Consolidated research group as recognized by the III Plan for Research in Catalonia 2001-2004, Grup de recerca consolidat, Ajuts per donar suport als grups de recerca consolidats de Catalunya (SGR), Departament d’Universitats, Recerca i Societat de la Informació de la Generalitat de Catalunya, 2009-2013 (2009SGR 00064).

- “An empirical study of translation competence adquisition in written translation”, Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación, 2010-2012 (FFI2009-07960). See project data below.


Establishing Competence Levels in the Acquisition of Translation Competence in Written Translation

The aim of this project is to establish different performance levels for direct and inverse translation in the acquisition of translation competence in the

European context. The following objectives have been established to achieve this aim:

1. To describe the specific competences that intervene in the acquisition of translation competence.

2. To define the specific competences of the translators different fields of specialisation.

3. To describe the learning results for each level.

The results of the project will provide the training and professional sectors with a common framework that will facilitate comparison between different systems of qualifications and serve as a guide to: create translation programmes; draw up official certificates; recognise academic qualifications; establish professional and academic profiles; design assessment criteria (examination, formative and diagnostic assessment); design text books and teaching material; establish criteria for professional quality control.

This common framework already exists for teaching foreign languages, the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR), but it does not exist for teaching translation. Given the importance of translator training in the context of a multilingual Europe and a globalized world, with ever increasing professional and academic mobility and migratory flows, a common framework is essential. It is also needed to meet the new requirements of academic integration fostered by the European Higher Education Area (EHEA).

The project will promote knowledge transfer to our society, based on the results of PACTEs earlier fundamental empirical research: research in Translation Competence (TC); research in the Acquisition of Translation Competence (ATC). (

Both qualitative and quantitative research methods will be used. The levelling proposal will be based on: qualitative and quantitative data collected in PACTEs CT and ATC research; comparisons of curricular designs in several European translation training centres; evaluation by a group of expert translation professionals and academics.

Various types of agents will participate in the research:

- Representatives of the academic sector (translation institutions and trainers). Approximately 20 centres and 100 trainers are expected to participate.

- Representatives of professional translation in the public and private sectors: translators working in different fields and representatives of professional associations; employers. 50 professionals are expected to participate.

- Experts from other fields: an expert on levelling and an education project management specialist.

16 institutions have already expressed an interest in participating in the project and its outcome.

The research will be carried out in three stages:

1. Preparation of a first draft of descriptors for each level.

2. Test of proposal of the descriptors for each level (expert judgement).

3. Analysis of data obtained from the evaluation and revision of the proposal.


An empirical study of translation competence adquisition in written translation: project data

The aim of this project is the empirical study of the acquisition of translation competence (ACT) in trainee translators.

Research into the acquisition of translation competence is carried out using trainee translators as subjects in a longitudinal study. Study variables are measured at different moments over a period of time (repeated measurements). The dependent variables identified in the study are: Knowledge about Translation; Efficacy of the Process; Decision-Making; Translation Project; Problem Identification and Resolution; Use of Instrumental Resources. One independent variable is Experience in Translation. Six categories of subjects are compared: beginners, second-year students, third-year students, fourth-year students, recently-graduated students and professional translators. A second independent variable is the pedagogical approach used in training.

Five cohorts of 30 students each (150 subjects overall) are selected from amongst those attending undergraduate courses in the Faculty of Translation and Interpreting at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. Six language pairs are under study: German-Spanish; German-Catalan; French-Spanish; French-Catalan; English-Spanish; English-Catalan. Data obtained relating to the translation process and the translation product are triangulated in order to guarantee the validity of the description of the object of  study. The study of the translation product (translated texts) involves the use of electronic corpus methodology and includes the use of a transversal indicator: the acceptability of solutions.

The instruments used for data collection are of different types: a preliminary questionnaire for the selection of subjects; translations (both direct and inverse); recordings carried out using Proxy and Camtasia; a questionnaire on translation problems (for direct and inverse translation) and a questionnaire on previous knowledge about translation; standardized interviews. Moreover, an electronic corpus will be created containing the texts translated by subjects. 

Data will be analysed using descriptive analysis models which define both the indicators and indices. Data collected for the various indicators will be triangulated. Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) and WordSmith Tools (a corpus management and analysis programme) will be used for data analysis.

Exploratory and pilot tests are being carried out before the final experiment in order to guarantee the internal and external validity of the research.

Data on the process of acquisition of translation competence will cast light on the different stages of the acquisition process  their characteristics, as well as on the attitude of the students that perform best at different stages of their training. This will provide further data to design a translator-training curriculum.

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