The Need for CAT Training within Translator Training Programmes:

Modern Bare Necessities or Unnecessary Fancies of Translation Trainers?

By Iwona Sikora (Częstochowa University of Technology, Poland)


To be a successful and efficient translator nowadays means not only possessing linguistic and translational competence. The advent of technology and the new forms of translation which have emerged in the past twenty years (for example, product localization) have transformed the way translator’s competence should be understood. At present, linguistic and translation skills are no longer sufficient and to respond to the contemporary market requirements and the expectations of their future clients, the graduates of language and translation training studies need also to be equipped with a number of technical skills. The basic and obvious one is the ability to use a word processor. However, to keep abreast of the more demanding market and the pace of technological change, translators should also know how to manage their terminology bases and translation projects, use translation memories, store and retrieve translations or use internet resources for efficient information and terminology searches. But is it just a mere fantasy of translation trainers or a bare necessity in the era of technology and information?

In this article an attempt will be made to demonstrate that an extensive and well planned training in translation technologies is a must if the students of general translation courses are to be well prepared to meet the standards of the translation market. Furthermore, the issue of how training in translation tools is approached in the curricula of Polish institutions offering courses to translators will be examined. Finally, some implications and suggestions concerning translating technologies training will be formulated.

Keywords: cat tools, European MA in Translation, en 15038, translation technologies, translator competence, translator training

©inTRAlinea & Iwona Sikora (2014).
"The Need for CAT Training within Translator Training Programmes: Modern Bare Necessities or Unnecessary Fancies of Translation Trainers?"
inTRAlinea Special Issue: Challenges in Translation Pedagogy
Edited by: Maria Piotrowska & Sergiy Tyupa
This article can be freely reproduced under Creative Commons License.
Stable URL:

1. Introduction

The character of the translator’s job and the process of translation have been subject to tremendous and far-reaching transformations. These transformations concern (and include, but are not limited to) the content which is translated, the way this content is translated, the tools used for translating, the particular stages of the translation process, time and quality requirements, the resources containing linguistic, terminological and specialised knowledge consulted by translators, the methods and ways of obtaining and accessing information and data necessary for the delivery of a good quality product. These changes are the result of an ongoing information and computer technologies (ICT) revolution, the impact of the Internet, the advancement of translation technologies and their wider availability, and – most of all – the globalisation and industrialisation of the translating process and translation market which result in higher quality requirements and higher translation volumes but shorter turnover times (Gouadec 2007: xiv). In the era dominated by computer and internet technologies, translators can no longer be merely language and/or domain (legal, technical etc.) specialists. They have to be ‘experts in multilingual multimedia communication engineering’ able to translate texts in different formats and for different media, as well as able to use sophisticated CAT tools (Gouadec 2007: xiii).

All these processes and modifications pose challenges for translators and – consequently – for translator education. To respond to these challenges, translator training programmes have to be designed in such a way as to meet market requirements and equip future translators with skills indispensable to endure on the translation market and provide high quality services. This need has already been recognised by higher education institutions offering translator training courses also in Poland – as more and more state and private tertiary education institutions offer courses for translators and interpreters. Yet, as will be demonstrated in this article, translator education situation at the university level still needs some improvement to conform to the European standards and market requirements.

The main aim of this article is to demonstrate that training in CAT technologies should be an indispensable element of every translation training programme if such studies are to be pragmatic and suited to the real market requirements. This will be done first by discussing translation market requirements for future translators which, together with the already established European norms and standards (European Master’s in Translation Strategy 2009; EN-15038 2006), should be used as guidelines in delineating a modern translator’s set of competences and abilities. Another aim is to confront the above-mentioned standards and market requirements with the educational reality in Poland with reference to training in translation technologies – a brief analysis of how translation specialisations within the higher education system (at the bachelor’s (BA), master’s (MA) and post-graduate (PG) levels) approach the issue of CAT tools training will be presented[1]. Finally, some implications for translation technologies training within translation degree programmes will be presented.

2. Transformations, market requirements and translator competence

The process of translation, translator’s workstation and practices have been transformed by a number of factors which pose challenges for translators and – at the same time – shape market requirements and translation industry standards. All these changes are enabled and driven by technology and start with the development of information and computer tools and applications. The expansion of the Internet together with the advancement of computer technologies (for example, general-purpose computer applications and translation-dedicated specialised technologies), have revolutionised the way translators work, obtain information or communicate with their clients or peers, as well as contributed to the emergence of new types and formats of translation (for example, web, software and games localisation, multimedia translation). These developments contribute to the globalisation, diversification and higher specialisation of the translation market and result in the increasing demand for translations, the growing volume of translation jobs and consequently, a higher demand for translation services. Moreover, the ubiquitous access to the Internet fastens the speed of communication and eliminates borders; clients and translators can work regardless of the distance and time differences so they can market and sell their products internationally and translation jobs can be commissioned to translation agencies or translators working anywhere in the world. In addition, the computerisation of institutions, organisations and businesses contributes to a greater digitisation of the translation content, which means that more translations tasks are carried out with the application of translation technologies (they are ‘translation technologies-processable’).

2.1 Translator competence and market requirements

These transformations are reflected in the set of market requirements for translators. To find out what they are it is enough to examine several job advertisements for translators. As Gouadec remarks, a brief analysis of job offers, recruitment criteria, translators’ working environments and task outlines allows to identify the translator recruitment profile or – in other words – the set of general and specific skills and abilities which a translator should possess to fulfill market requirements (Gouadec 2007: 328). On the basis of a survey of over 120 job advertisements carried out regardless of the language or country in 2005, Gouadec compiled a list of employers’ expectations, in which the skills and abilities are listed in the order of importance beginning with the most important skills placed on top of the list:

1. Language skills (most obviously):

  • a perfect knowledge of the relevant working languages (100% of the jobs advertised). Language pair(s) and direction of translation are relevant in all cases.

2. Knowledge of specific translation tools (now mentioned in all job ads):

  • proficiency in the use of an application that the company or organisation has already purchased but does not know how to implement or use efficiently, or
  • proficiency in the use of an application required by a particular work provider (for example computer graphics, desk-top publishing, specific software used to produce and process the material to be translated), or
  • proficiency in the use of software localisation and multimedia translation tools – usually couched as ‘IT skills will be particularly appreciated’.

3. Qualifications:

  • A degree in translation (almost all require postgraduate qualifications; about one in ten wants technical experts and one in thirty is looking for ‘technical experts trained in translation’)
  • A degree awarded by a recognised training institution.

4. Knowledge of quality control procedures (mentioned in just over half of the job ads).

5. Particular competences, such as technical writing, revision, terminology management, pre-translation, network management, Web page design, and so on (40% of job ads).

6. Project management

  • In-house project management: this can include choosing the appropriate translation assistance and machine translation tools, and training the translators in the use of such tools.
  • Sub-contractor management, this means acting as prime contractor for the work provider (35%).

7. Specific ability to handle nonstandard translations:

  • Specific technical knowledge and skills required to handle and translate unconventional material – usually phrased as: ‘IT skills appreciated’ or ‘experience in the area of software localisation appreciated’.

8. Experience in the field of translation (15%) (Gouadec 2007: 329–30).

As can be seen from the above list, apart from the linguistic skills, a great emphasis is put on ‘technical’ knowledge and proficiency in using translation-dedicated technologies. The frequency, with which technical skills are mentioned in job adverts, just after linguistic qualifications, clearly demonstrates that the familiarity with the state-of-the-art translation technologies is indispensable and simply inescapable. Gouadec further juxtaposes employers’ requirements with another survey in which the offers for translation programmes students’ internships were analysed. The results show that the ideal candidates should:

  • be in the final stages of their master’s degree in translation,
  • know translation memory systems and MT tools,
  • be able to prepare a translation project specifications (equipment, software resources, documentation and terminology) and have practical experience in project management,
  • be able to design their workstation in the most optimal way,
  • be familiar with localisation and multimedia translation techniques (website, videogames and software localisation, dubbing, subtitling, and so on),
  • be familiar with quality management and control procedures
    (Gouadec 2007: 330–31).

The analysis of market requirements specified by employers and set forth in internship offers for students allows to draw up the profile of a qualified translator and determine the set of indispensable competences and skills. According to the list prepared by Gouadec, a well-trained translator should:

  • have relevant university education in translation and specialise in a specific area of translation,
  • be familiar with translation-oriented terminology management systems and relevant terminology used in translation,
  • be familiar with technical writing and content management,
  • possess good information and terminology research skills, and should be able to evaluate the sources critically,
  • be proficient in the use of ICT for all translation-related general and more specific purposes (Internet, e-mail, websites, web forums, search engines, referencing protocols, file management servers, office IT and DTP applications, and so on),
  • be familiar with database management systems,
  • be familiar with electronic data management (XML/XSL/SML),
  • be proficient at using translation memory systems,
  • have knowledge of proof-reading, revision and post-editing techniques,
  • have knowledge of technologies and software used in the processes of document production and management.
    (Gouadec 2007: 331–32)

The skills and abilities presented above allow the author of the surveys to conclude on the subject fields in which translators should be educated to conform to market expectations, to be versatile and flexible participants on the job market easily adapting to new conditions, as well as to able to apply for a wide range of positions (Gouadec 2007: 331–32). The following list specifies the subject areas which should be covered by a translation studies curriculum and in which translators should receive training:

  • source language(s),
    • target language(s),
    • specific domains or subject areas,
    • comprehension and analysis of materials to be translated (per type, and individually),
    • information mining, retrieval, and management
    • writing/development skills,
    • terminology for translation/translators,
    • phraseology for translation/translators,
    • IT skills,
    • translation skills 1
      • general translation,
    • translation skills 2
      • specialised translation,
      • specific domains (legal, financial, technical, with subdivisions),
      • multimedia,
      • software/Web site/videogame localisation
    • proof-reading and revision,
    • project management and quality management
      • planning,
      • financial management,
      • resource management.
    (Gouadec 2007: 334–35)

The above analysis of employers’ expectations clearly demonstrates that in the era of knowledge and information excellent linguistic skills are important but actually insufficient to provide professional translation services. To expand the range of possibilities and increase their employability and chances on the job market, translators have to possess other skills and competences which are partially strictly related to the familiarity and ability to use proficiently various CAT tools. Lack of skills in this field may actually have an unfavourable influence on translators’ business operations in financial terms, as expertise in computer technologies and willingness to use them is considered to be a great asset and simply creates a competitive advantage. Therefore, those translators who are on good terms with the state-of-the-art translation-related technologies and are able to use them with ease are likely to find more job opportunities and receive better remuneration than those who are afraid of, unable or unwilling to keep up with technological innovations. As Gouadec observes, the impact of information and computer technologies is so enormous that it is beginning to create a gap between those who are willing to take advantage of translation-dedicated computer tools and those who prefer more traditional ways. Interestingly, he also remarks that the translator’s workstation composed of a computer, word processor, translation memory module, terminology management module and the Internet is nowadays just a basic combination – and those who are able to offer more comprehensive translation services using more sophisticated applications for, among others, localisation, media translation or project management (or other additional services[2] as specified in EN 15038 2006: 12) provide services with added value and may expect better financial results (2007: 279–80).

The need for translators possessing other translation service provision skills (other than proficiency in two languages and the ability to translate) is also corroborated by the commentary on the European Union Information Website, on which it is stated that the contemporary translation market requires that translators acquire not only translation-related skills but also competences requisite for the widely understood translation service provision (for example, reviewing, correcting, project management, marketing, customer relations, time and budget management and invoicing, etc.) as well as expertise in new technologies, translation forms and specialist fields (for example, localisation, subtitling, web-editing, AVT, etc.) (EurActiv – European Union Information Website 2009). Similarly, Samson points out that technological competences and the familiarity with translation technologies constitute a significant part of the overall translator competence and have to be taken seriously and consequently included in translator training programmes as:

(…) deficient computer skills (…) are a blight on all professionals in today’s world. Companies in the language industry frequently bemoan the lack of qualified job candidates that bring together both translation and computer skills (Samson 2005: 104).

3. (Re)defining translator competence?

The issue of translator competence has been debated for over four decades and a number of translation or/and translator competence models and definitions have been already created. A review of relevant literature on translator and translation competence can be found, among others, in Angelelli and Jacobson (2009), Pym (2003) or Kelly (2005). What is also worth mentioning in this place is the PACTE group project into translation competence, which was launched in 1977. It has worked out a model of translator competence based on the results of the empirical and experimental research (PACTE 2011).

Despite so many years of debate and attempts to define translator competence and its subcomponents, there is, however, ‘no single definition or model which would be universally accepted in the field of translation studies’ (Arango-Keith and Koby 2003: 120–121). Since so many models have already been created, there is no need to reinvent the wheel and define the translator competence anew. Thus, following Kiraly, it is assumed that translation competence is ‘the ability to produce an acceptable text’ (2000: 13). In fact, this simple definition is in line with the minimalist approach to translation competence proposed by Pym, in which he defines translation competence as:

  • The ability to generate a series of more than one viable target text (TT₁ TT₂ …) for a pertinent source text (ST)
  • The ability to select only one viable TT from this series, quickly and with justified confidence
    (Pym 2003: 489).

Despite criticising the multicomponent models, Pym himself recognises that ‘translation competence may often be a minor component in the range of skills required of intercultural professionals’ (2003: 491) and therefore, in this paper, translation competence will be understood as a constituent of a wider multi-componential translator competence, which, in turn, is composed of numerous subcompetences and professional qualifications. Moreover, as Carpenter remarks ‘despite the appealing simplicity of Pym’s model the multicomponent model has nonetheless continued to dominate the TS field in recent years’ (2013: 3). This trend is also reflected in the above mentioned PACTE model, in which translator competence is also defined as: ‘the underlying system of knowledge required to translate’ (PACTE 2011: 318) and which comprises 6 subcompetences (bilingual, extra-linguistic, translation, instrumental, strategic and psycho-physiological) (PACTE 2011). Moreover, this approach is also adopted in the models of translator competence proposed by the European Master’s in Translation (EMT 2009) and European Standard (EN 15038: 2006) which will be discussed subsequently. These two documents were chosen as the basis for further considerations concerning the scope of translator competence since they were officially accepted by the European institutions[3] as models which should be guiding translator training and translation service provision.

3.1 Translator competence and European norms

Any attempts at determining the skills and abilities useful for translators should take into account market requirements and new technologies. Moreover, other points of reference which could be helpful are the already existing translation industry standards and educational norms, which were created, among others, in order to increase the quality of translation services and to improve the quality of translator education in Europe. These documents are the European Master’s in Translation project (EMT) launched in 2009 and the European Quality Standard for Translation Services – EN 15038-2006 issued by the European Committee for Standardization in 2006 (EMT 2009; EN 15038 2006). Both documents were prepared from the perspective of professional realism and both look at translator competence from a practical market-oriented point of view. More specific aims of these two documents are presented in Table 1 below:




to equal educational levels in Europe

to enhance the quality of translation services

to improve the quality of translator training by establishing professional and quality standards (a common framework of reference) for university translation programmes

to standardize translation services (the required phases of the translation process: translation, checking and revision)

to provide the market with highly skilled professional translators who would ‘keep up with the requirements of the knowledge society’

to specify formal education and/or experience requirements for translation service providers (translators and revisers; reviewers, proofreaders, terminology managers, project managers)

to detail translator competences needed to work successfully in today’s market

to define the range of professional competences translation service providers should possess to meet market requirements and which should be acquired in the course of formal education

Table 1. EMT and EN 15038 2006 goals

As Table 1 demonstrates, one of the goals of both documents is defining the range of professional competences translators or, in a wider meaning proposed in EN 15038, translation service providers (TSP) need in order to function successfully on the market, and which should be acquired in the course of formal education.

Both papers are, in general, unanimous and enumerate a similar set of subcompetences:

  • translating competence (the ability to translate texts),
  • linguistic competence (proficiency in source and target languages, comprehension skills),
  • textual competence (the ability to follow textual conventions and rules),
  • cultural competence (knowledge of source and target language cultures and the ability to deal with cultural; values and conventions),
  • translation service provision competence (a wider concept including apart from translating skill also business management skills – the EMT project).
    (Gambier 2009; EN-15308 2006)

The major differences are that the EMT project enumerates the overall translation supercompetence, which comprises or is the outcome of all other skills and competences. Moreover, the EN 15038 does not include the thematic competence (or subject-specific competence), which in the EMT project is defined as knowledge in specialist fields. What is important, though, is that both standards include in their models technical or technological competence and information mining competence and both regard them as obligatory for translators. More detailed descriptions of these two competences are presented in Table 2:

EMT project

EN 15038

technological competence (the ability to use a range of computer tools for various purposes)

technical competence – the abilities and skills required for the professional preparation and production of translations regarding technical aspects

information mining competence (the ability to search for information, by looking critically at various information sources)

research competence, information acquisition and processing – the ability to efficiently acquire additional linguistic and specialised knowledge necessary to understand the source text and to produce the target text, experience in the use of research tools and the ability to develop suitable strategies for the efficient use of the information sources available

Table 2. Comparison of technical and research and information mining competences according to the EMT project and EN 15038

Summarising the specifications delineated by both documents, the technical competence and the research and information mining competence are understood as comprising the skills and abilities as specified in Table 3:



ability to use a range of software for correction, translation, terminology, layout, documentary research (for example: text processing, spell and grammar check, the Internet, translation memory, terminology database, voice recognition software)

ability to efficiently acquire additional linguistic and specialised knowledge


ability to adapt to new tools, for example the translation of multimedia and audiovisual material

ability to use research tools (for example terminology software, electronic corpora, electronic dictionaries) and

ability to produce a translation in different formats and for different technical media

developing strategies for documentary and terminological research and the efficient use of the information sources available

ability to create and manage a database and files


knowing the possibilities and limits of MT


Table 3. Skills and abilities constituting translator technical competence
and research and information mining competence (on the basis of the EMT and EN 15038)

4. Implications for translator education

The EMT project and the European norm, as well as the market requirements reflected in the job advertisements and internship offers for translators have significant implications for translator education as they determine which skills and abilities should be taught and developed in the course of university training. Therefore, the recommendations they include should be treated as guidance when designing translator training programmes.

Translator training curricula have to be adapted to the professional reality – they cannot be detached from the real market expectations and conditions if universities want to provide meaningful education and ‘produce’ professional translators who will be better prepared to meet the challenges of the demanding and fast-changing market. Obviously, technology will always, to a certain extent, outdistance even the best-designed programmes – it would be practically impossible to cover all new emerging technologies or teach and demonstrate all available translation-related applications or become familiar with all existing tools. However, it is essential to make sure that future translators are familiar with all the stages of the translation process as specified in the EN 15038[4] and are able to execute all related tasks and activities as well as perform other translation-related tasks including project and quality management. Moreover, it is essential to ensure that future translators know how and when to use available translation technologies and feel comfortable working with them. This cannot be achieved without participation and involvement of institutions training translators. Of course, it is possible that individual translators will learn how to use some of the available applications on their own, or will be trained on the job in the usage of CAT tools but in this way their chances on the job market are much lower and they are in a worse starting position than those who were trained in CAT tools during their studies. The latter group has a huge competitive advantage because it may be assumed that their familiarity with CAT tools, upon the completion of university education, is at a satisfactory level enabling them to start work comfortably whereas the former group may not be offered a position (due to lower qualifications) or will have to start in more stressing circumstances fighting with time pressure, usual translation and terminological issues and trying to master the unfamiliar and not so easy technology. These arguments may seem obvious; however, a closer look at the situation at Polish universities offering courses for translators reveals that the reality is not ideal. In the next section a brief review of translator training programmes and their approach to translation technologies training is presented.

5. Translator education and CAT training at Polish higher education institutions

Translator education in Poland is offered by state and private higher education institutions. The first courses in translation technologies appeared at Polish universities in the late 1990s and early 2000s when training in CAT tools and general information technology courses were introduced into translator training programmes. The number of courses and programmes for translators offered mostly by universities, which are the main higher education institutions educating translators in Poland, grows systematically and translators can receive education at three levels: under-graduate leading to a bachelor’s degree, graduate leading to a master’s degree and post-graduate.

Translation Studies within the Polish educational system does not have a status of an independent academic discipline and constitutes a subcomponent of traditional ‘philologies’. As a result, translation is taught as a specialisation under the major in a chosen foreign language. In practice, it means that students choose BA or MA studies in, for example, English or German and further they decide on their specialisation in translation or interpreting (the most frequently offered specialisations are pedagogical/teaching specialisation and translation specialisation; other specialisations also include language in business, language in business and tourism, American/British studies, linguistics/literary studies, office English/German, language (English or German) in early school education, editing and typesetting, cultural and literary studies and combinations of two languages (Lipska 2013)). Translators can continue their education at the post-graduate level on specialised courses in, for example, certified translation, literary translation, translation of business, financial or legal documentation, audiovisual translation, etc.

The number of translation specialisations has been growing steadily and more universities decide to open such programmes in an attempt to make their offer more attractive and to respond to candidates’ interests and expectations but, first of all, to satisfy market demand for translators. As Lipska reports, the demand for translation services is rising but, what is more important, the demand for well qualified translators capable of rendering high quality translation services is also on the rise, partially due to the fact that the quality of translations is decreasing because of lower rates, competition, crowds of pseudo-translators with poor linguistic and procedural skills (2013).

The number of courses seems to be growing but does it mean there is a greater understanding and recognition of the need to train future translators in translation technologies? Do all translation specialisations incorporate CAT tools training into their offers? And if yes, are these courses tailored to the needs of future translators to prepare them better for work on the demanding translation market?

6. CAT training within the Polish higher education system

To answer these questions, a short study examining how CAT tool training is treated at Polish universities was conducted. The study’s aim was to check whether the courses offering training in translation technologies are included into specialisation programmes, and how and to what extent CAT tools are taught. As part of the analysis, the programmes of 31 universities and higher education institutions were reviewed (all state universities and several private schools). Because of the great number of majors and specialisations and sometimes lack of clarity on universities’ websites concerning the way of publishing information (on available majors and specialisations and programmes’ content), it was decided that the survey would concentrate on the English language only. It was assumed that since English was the language most popular among all language philologies (Lipska 2013), the data for translator education and respectively for training in CAT tools were also likely to be the most representative and reflect the overall tendency for CAT tools training at translation specialisations.

The programmes examined in this survey were programmes in English philology (as English Studies is traditionally called in the Polish higher education system) offered by 31 Polish universities at the bachelor’s, master’s and post-graduate levels. As explained in point 5 above, translation in the Polish system is taught within BA or MA studies as a specialisation within the major of English Philology. In general, specialisations under the major of English Philology are of general character and offer training in translation or/and interpreting. Thus, the majority of the programmes under analysis name their specialisation as ‘translation specialisation’[5].

First, the studies offering specialisations for translators were selected and then these curricula of these specialisations were reviewed to check whether they included a CAT tools (or similar) training course, what the number of hours was and what the course content was. However, this task was slightly complicated due to the fact that not all universities publish information on the number of hours of each course offered in the programme (or the information is sometimes difficult to find). Likewise, syllabuses for particular courses were not always available (or again difficult to locate in the maze of some universities’ or institutes’ data), and therefore it was not always possible to verify the contents of some courses. For this reason, the content of the courses, which could be verified in course descriptions or in course syllabuses, is not discussed in this paper. However, where the description of the course was available, it was taken into account. The data were collected in a form of a table containing information on the level of studies, studies major and specialisation and the presence of a CAT/ ICT/ translation technologies course in the curriculum (apart from the obligatory information technology course, which is typically planned for 15 or 30 hours – which covers general IT issues such as using the Internet, using word processor and other office applications). The results are presented in Table 4.






10 (50%)



11 (52%)



11 (69%)

Table 4 CAT tools training at 31 Polish universities:
major in English philology, specialisation in translation

As the numbers in the table indicate, the situation is similar at the BA and MA levels whereas at the post-graduate courses, which are generally more specialised and directed at developing translation skills in one particular field (for example, translation of specialised text, media translation or CAT technologies), the number of programmes offering a course in translation technologies is slightly higher. The greatest number of courses in translation technologies is offered at the post-graduate level whereas at the bachelor’s and master’s levels half and more than a half of the programmes, respectively, include CAT tools courses. It also means that half of the translation specialisations offered at Polish universities comply with the European requirements specified in the EMT project or EN 15038 and the other half fail to meet these already generally accepted standards. It is also possible that training in CAT tools is built-in into other practical translation courses – in which, for example, business or technical translation courses are taught with the use of computers, translation memory and terminology management tools – but this assumption is not confirmed since in most cases no syllabuses were available to verify whether CAT tools training was part of any other course.

Looking at the numbers for bachelor’s and master’s degree studies, we can state that the glass is half full or half empty. On the one hand, 50 per cent result cannot be considered negative – half of the translation specialisations’ graduates will theoretically possess all the required competences and skills to provide translation services. On the other hand, the other half of graduates will come to the market with the traditional set of competences (linguistic and translation skills) and will be forced to master new technologies in order to function more effectively. If we look at the results from the less optimistic perspective, the results demonstrate that educational offers for translators of many universities need updating and should be rethought and redesigned because the existing programmes do not comply with the above-discussed European norms and standards and certainly do not conform to the market requirements which are reflected in job adverts for translators.

Moreover, it was observed that there were considerable differences in the number of course hours – starting with 2 hours at the post-graduate level and 30 or even 45 hours at bachelor’s or master’s studies. On average, courses at the BA level were shorter (around 15 hours) than at the MA level (usually 30, but sometimes even 45 hours), with PG courses being the shortest – 2 or 6 hours – one course 16 hours). In case of post-graduate studies, the small number of course hours is understandable since post-graduate courses last usually for a year (two semesters) and usually take place at weekends and thus the overall number of hours is limited.

It was also noticed that several programmes offered CAT tools courses in a form of lectures and no practical classes were planned during which students could put theory into practice or work on real translation projects using CAT tools. The fact that translation technologies are taught in a form of lectures – and not in practice – also means that such programmes are not in line with the idea of professional realism advocated by the Bologna process and translation educators (Gouadec 2007; Kelly 2005; Kiraly 2005). Professional realism, quite logically, recommends that translator education should be practice-oriented and adjusted to market requirements. This approach suggests that courses should be project-oriented. This means that students should have a chance to develop their translator competences, skills and abilities performing tasks which simulate real-life situations (translation tasks or projects) and in this way they would have a chance to construct their own knowledge and practise all skills needed for the completion of a translation project or task. Working on translation projects empowers students and allows them to develop their professional skills in a more integrated and coordinated manner – students faced with a translation job (as translators in real life) – have to (with some instructor’s help and guidance) come up with their own ways and solutions for completing the project and delivering it on time.[6] Such an approach allows them to construct their knowledge in a more effective and conscious way.

Finally, it was also noticed that only in few cases CAT tools training was incorporated into the whole translation specialisation programme. This means that teaching technical and research skills was integrated into other subjects.[7] In other cases, no such information was provided. Anyway, training in translation technologies would be probably more effective if it was integrated into the whole translation programme and taught in every possible way and on every course, during which using computers is possible or necessary. Samson calls for mainstreaming ICT and introducing general computer competences at the beginning of translation education and then developing more specialised skills in other subjects (2005: 112).

7. Conclusion

It can be stated that the diagnosis of the situation of CAT training within translator training programmes indicates that the significance of computer literacy in general sense and more specific knowledge of CAT skills for translators is recognised only partially by Polish higher education institutions. This trend is reflected in the numbers presented above – only approximately half of the translation specialisation programmes include CAT training whereas the other half teaches translation relying on the traditional paper and pencil methods. It means that these translator training programmes develop students’ linguistic and translation skills but do not develop technical skills which, as has been agreed, are an inseparable part of translator professional competence. Additionally, many courses are not practically-oriented and provide only some theoretical introduction to translation technologies. The results also clearly reveal that only some universities take into consideration the EN-15038 and EMT[8] specifications and market requirements when designing their programmes.

It can be observed at Polish universities that CAT training is gaining more and more recognition among translator scholars. This manifests itself in a growing number of courses devoted to this area whereas in the past, Polish translation training institutions had very few such training modules. Definitely, the growing market demand for well qualified translators equipped with all indispensable skills poses challenges for university programmes and translator educators. At some centres (for example, University of Silesia in Sosnowiec/Katowice, Department of Roman Languages and Translation Studies) CAT technologies have a well-established place in the studies curricula – a 30-hour course is a permanent (and obligatory) element in every language major (French, Italian and Spanish). In others, however, the approach to translation technologies training should be revised and planned with more consideration for the needs of the translation market and European trends in translator education (professional realism, practical and project- and future-oriented approach, social constructivism, students’ needs and market requirements).

Consequently, to provide education at the highest level adapted to the European standards and adjusted to professional reality, translation programmes for translators should develop students’ professional competences in line with the EMT project and EN-15038. Moreover, university programmes should provide a basis for lifelong learning and for future development, and therefore education in CAT tools should start at the BA level and be continued at MA and PG levels. The best method for CAT tools training would be integrating and mainstreaming translation technologies at every level and in every possible way, in as many courses as possible – it would require redefining and rethinking curricula and the overall approach of teaching staff. Theoretical aspects of translation technologies could be covered first and then the focus should be on the practical application of these technologies in translation projects to consolidate the knowledge. Moreover, it is believed that university programmes should teach students technologies rather than tools for a few reasons. If students learn how to use translation memory, or how to build a term base, or how to extract terms and align translations on the example of several (two or three) available tools, they would gain confidence which will make it easier for them to master new technologies or learn how to use other tools they were not introduced to. Finally, students should also be taught to approach translation technologies with responsibility and caution – they should know when and how to apply specific tools and be aware of the pros and cons of using CAT and MT technologies.


Angelelli Claudia V. and Holly E. Jacobson (2009) Testing and Assessment in Translation and Interpreting Studies: A call for dialogue between research and practice. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company.

Arango-Keith, Fanny, and Koby, Geoffrey S. (2003) “Translator Training Evaluation and the Needs of Industry Quality Training.” in Beyond the Ivory Tower: Rethinking Translation Pedagogy [C], Brian Bear & Geoffrey S. Koby (eds), Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company: 117–134.

Carpenter, Sandy (2013) What skills should translators have, and when and how should they acquire them? URL: [accessed on 5.01.2014].

EN-15038 (2006) Translation services – Service requirements. English version of DIN EN 15038:2006-08, URL: [accessed on 06.01.2014].

EurActiv – European Union Information Website (2009) EU launches Master’s in Translation network. URL: [accessed 06.01.2014].

European Master’s in Translation Strategy (2009), URL: [accessed 06.01.2014].

Gambier, Yves (ed.) (2009) Competences for professional translators, experts in multilingual and multimedia communication. URL: [url=][/url] [accessed 6.01.2014].

Gouadec, Daniel (2007) Translation as a Profession. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company.

Kelly, Dorothy (2005) A Handbook for Translator Trainers. A Guide to Reflective Practice. Manchester: St. Jerome.

Kiraly, Don (2005) “Project-Based Learning: a Case for Situated Translation.” Meta: Translators’ Journal 50(4), 1098–1111.

Lipska, Malwina (2013) Niekoniecznie głową w mur. URL: [url=][/url] [accessed 6.01.2014].

PACTE (2011) “Results of the Validation of the PACTE Translation Competence Model: Translation Problems and Translation Competence.” in Methods and Strategies of Process Research: Integrative Approaches in Translation Studies, Cecilia Alvstad, Adelina Hild, Elisabet Tiselius (eds), Amsterdam: John Benjamins:317–344.

Pym, Anthony (2003) “Redefining Translation Competence in an Electronic Age. In Defence of a Minimalist Approach.” Meta: Translators’ Journal 48(4): 481–97.

Pym, Anthony (2009) Translator training. Pre-print text written for the Oxford Companion to Translation Studies. URL: [url=][/url] [accessed on 5.01.2014].


Samson, Richard (2005) “Computer-assisted translation” in Training for the New Millennium: Pedagogies for Translation and Interpreting. Martha Tenneth (ed.) New York: John Benjamins Publishing Co: 101–126.

Universities and programmes in the EMT network. URL: [accessed 6.01.2014].

[url=http://www.job]http://www.job[/url], URL: [url=][/url] [accessed 6.01.2014].

[url=][/url], URL:,oferta,3200133 [accessed 6.01.2014].


[1] In the Polish system there are four levels of studies: undergraduate (BA), graduate (MA), postgraduate (non-degree) and doctoral. Post-graduate studies can be undertaken after obtaining a BA degree or MA degree and do not lead to obtaining a degree but are a sort of specialisation additional studies.

[2] Added values services enumerated in EN 15038 2006 are as follows: ‘Legalisation, notarisation; adaptation; rewriting; updating; localisation; internationalisation; globalisation terminology data base creation and termbase management; transcription; transliteration; DTP, graphic and web design, camera-ready artwork; technical writing; language and culture consultancy; terminology concordance; translation memory alignment; alignment of bilingual parallel texts; pre- and post-editing subtitling voice-over; review and/or revision of translations from third parties; back-translation.(EN 15038 2006: 12)

[3] European Commission and European Committee for Standardization, respectively.

[4] EN 15038 specifies that the obligatory stages of the translation process are: translation, checking, revision and final verification and the optional stages include also review and proofreading (EN 15038 2006: 11-12).

[5] Only 3 out of 20 BA studies, 2 out of 21 MA studies and 2 out of 16 PG studies were not general specialisations: e.g. BA – specialisation in English and CAT tools, specialisation in culture and media translation, specialisation in designing interactive entertainment and games and software localization; MA – specialisation: computer-based English language studies, specialisation in culture and media translation, PG – specialisation: IT for translators, specialisation in certified translation. Obviously, the study programmes with specialisation in CAT/IT tools included CAT tools course.

[6] In this way, students can develop the whole range of skills – translation skills, business management skills, technical skills, interpersonal skills, project management and terminology management skills, etc..

[7] Such information was provided only in case of three courses.

[8] In Poland two programmes have been granted the EMT label in 2014 – M.A. studies, major: applied linguistics, teaching and translation specialisation at University of Warsaw, Institute of Applied Linguistics and M.A. studies in specialised and professional translation at Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, Institute of Neophilology – Universities and programmes in the EMT network URL: [url=][/url] [accessed on 10.07.2014].

About the author(s)

IWONA SIKORA, PhD in linguistics, works as an assistant professor at the Chair of Applied Linguistics in Management at Częstochowa University of Technology and a lecturer in the Section of business English of the Institute of Modern Languages of the University of Applied Sciences in Nysa. She is a certified translator of the English language and a practicing translator specializing in the translation of business, legal, technical and scientific texts. Her research interests include audiovisual translation, specialized languages and terminology, theory and methodology of ESP training, translator education and CAT tools.

Email: [please login or register to view author's email address]

©inTRAlinea & Iwona Sikora (2014).
"The Need for CAT Training within Translator Training Programmes: Modern Bare Necessities or Unnecessary Fancies of Translation Trainers?"
inTRAlinea Special Issue: Challenges in Translation Pedagogy
Edited by: Maria Piotrowska & Sergiy Tyupa
This article can be freely reproduced under Creative Commons License.
Stable URL:

Go to top of page