I have been including real-life projects into my translation courses at the FASK for several years. The projects we work on are jobs offered to me or my students on the market. Although taking responsibility for the quality of the translation and for meeting the deadlines, I do share this responsibility with the students.
The students essentially work in teams, while the teacher (or tutor) supports them in many ways, e.g. as the coordinator of the project, native speaker of the target language (all projects consist of translations from German into English realized by German native speakers), mediator between the client and the students, etc. This kind of teaching has many positive aspects. Above all, it offers the students the possibility of getting to know the work and the problems and constraints that go with it that they will probably face after graduation.
When working on a real-life translation, a kind of natural curriculum develops in the course of the project. Dealing with faulty texts, contacting the client in the case of problems, creating glossaries with the computer to guarantee consistency concerning terminology, searching for background information if necessary all these things are only some of the tasks that can come up in every project. Instead of giving the students instructions “out of the blue”, the curriculum offers a series of possibilities of learning new skills in their context.
As the students are responsible for the successful completion of the projects, they learn to work for and within their team, a skill from which they will also benefit after graduation.
Thanks to Andrea Dannhäuser who provided her invaluable help as a tutor in 1999 and 2000.