Foreign Language Competence

This part of the curriculum, also known as "the basic course", varies from department to department. Basically, it is designed to enable the students to aquire and improve their foreign language skills. The basic course usually lasts two semesters.

In the non-school languages like Arabic, Chinese, Dutch and Russian, you take part in introductory courses which are hold in the form of lectures and further courses which are based on teacher-centered teaching. In the school languages English and French, you do not start from the basics but still you are confronted with teacher-centered teaching.

The question is what "competence of foreign language" really is. Does it mean to learn vocabulary and grammatical rules by heart so that you repeat them in examinations? Is it knowledge without a context? Knowledge about a language forms without learning the language as a whole? Alternatively, does it mean to develop a sense for the language to feel competent in the use of different style levels and registers in the foreign language? Or is the competence of foreign language more more what???

"Part of learning a language well is watching the body language of native speakers  when they speak: how they move their mouths, how they gesture and shift their weight, how they stumble over words, where and how they pause, how they use stress for emphasis, [...] you have to intuit, sense what their bodies are doing inside, sense how they feel when they speak." (Douglas Robinson The Translator's Turn, 1991) Aus "A Social Constructivist Approach to Translator Education", von Don Kiraly, 2000

Cultural Science (basic and main studies)

The aim of cultural studies is to promote the understanding of ones own culture as well as foreign cultures, and the ability to understand intercultural communication. The catalog of topics includes, among others, appropriate cultural sociological terms and methods; the description of cultures and social systems with their institutions, values, and behaviour patterns; modern literature, history and politics; international organizations.

To cover the module "Cultural Science" you follow regional courses which partly take place in the form of lectures and end with a final exam. Introductory seminars or advanced seminars are compulsory, also. The topics which are chosen by the students vary as well as the requirements. With the possibility to choose themselves, the students are able to arrange their personal main focus of their studies.


Linguistic and Translation Studies (basic and advanced studies)

This part of the studies includes linguistic and translation studies. Here the students receive an insight into the science of translation and become familiar with recent theories of translation. In linguistic lectures and seminars, you learn about the structure and function of language.

Complementary Subjects

The students can choose from the following range of complementary subjects. Computer science, medicine, law, technology and economy. On the basis of their complementary subject, the students learn the basics of the field and the methodical preconditions to find the special terminology. In this manner, they learn the basics of dealing with different fields on their own. The studies of the complementary subject start in the third semester and end with an exam.

 

Translating

During basic studies you translate general texts. The lecturer chooses the topics. This is the typical form of a translation practice course: the students read their translations which they have done at home. Afterwards, the lecturer and the fellow students discuss the suggestions. It may happen that you need the entire time of one session, which lasts for one and a half hour, to discuss one small section of the text. In some cases, you translate only one basic text during the whole semester. This means that the students do not learn how to translate with quality and speed. In professional life you normaly have to translate 500 words per hour.
During advanced studies, you translate general texts as well as specialized texts with the lecturer choosing the topics.

 

Interpreting

During basic studies, introductory courses for interpreting are not compulsory. However, most students enrolled for interpreting follow interpreting practice courses from the beginning of their studies. The introductory course ends with an examination in consecutive interpreting (from A-language into B-language and from C-language into A-language) as well as in simultaneous interpreting (B-language into A-language).
During advanced studies, all students follow interpreting practice courses. As with translation practice courses, the teachers choose what texts the students deal with. In general, the texts have a connection to current world events, such as international politicians' speeches. There is also a course for specialist texts from the fields of technology, environment, economy, computing science etc.


Vordiplom (intermediate exam)


This exam is the same for translators and interpreters. There are four examinations: three 2-hour translation exams (B>A, A>B, C>A) and a 30-minute oral exam in linguistics and translation science based on the linguistic undergraduate seminar completed in the B-language. If you fail the Vordiplom, you can try once again. If you take the exam before the 4th semester, you can fail once without consequences.


Diplom (degree)

Usually, you take the Diplom -exam during the 9th semester. For translating, it consists of the following exams: six 5-hour translation exams (B>A, A>B, C>A in general texts, B>A, A>B and C>A in specialised texts) as well as oral exams in linguistics in your B-language and cultural science in your C-language.
Your final grade is composed of the individual grades for the thesis, the complementary subject, the second optional module and the written and oral Diplom-examinations.
For interpreting, the Diplom-examination consists of three exams in consecutive interpreting (B>A, A>B, C>A) and three exams in simultaneous interpreting (B>A, A>B, C>A). The oral exams are the same as for translating. If you take the Diplom-exam before the 9th semester, you can fail once without consequences.


And what comes after graduation?