Fostering Translator Competence:

The Importance of Effective Feedback and Motivation for Translator Trainees

By Catherine Way (Universidad de Granada, Spain)


Recent studies suggest that emotions or self-efficacy and confidence (Haro-Soler 2017a; 2017b; 2018a) and the effect they may have on translator task performance are attracting attention in research on translator education (Rojo and Ramos 2016), with data suggesting that students improve if attention is paid to these psychophysiological aspects. Empowering students to become self-regulated learners, who can monitor learning processes, relies heavily on their motivation and behaviour during that learning, which in turn relies on feedback and formative assessment (Nicol and Macfarlane-Dick 2006). Within the model for Self-Regulated Learning (SRL) suggested by Nicol and Macfarlane-Dick, we will consider the principles they propose for good feedback practice (ibid.), taking a further step by introducing motivational interviewing (MI) (Miller 1983; Miller and Rollnick 1991) in translator education. We will present three case studies where students displaying different SRL strategies and motivational problems were selected as a pilot study implementing motivational interviewing. The MI process will be described and the results for the three cases discussed.

Keywords: translator training, feedback, self-regulated learning, motivation, translator trainer competence, pilot studies

©inTRAlinea & Catherine Way (2019).
"Fostering Translator Competence: The Importance of Effective Feedback and Motivation for Translator Trainees"
inTRAlinea Special Issue: New Insights into Translator Training
Edited by: Paulina Pietrzak
This article can be freely reproduced under Creative Commons License.
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1. Introduction

Translator competence models (TC) have clearly prevailed in translator education in the twentieth century. More recently, however, TC models have been deemed to be flat or static by Kiraly (2015: 24). For this author, the next step forward in translator education is into complexity thinking and to progress from “enaction” to “emergence” as postpositivist principles (2015: 10), in line with Risku (2010). Project-based, authentic, collaborative learner-centred translation classes have become widespread, whilst the ability to continue developing TC and expertise and to monitor one’s own performance as translators in multiple roles has also been addressed (Way 2008: 100). Pedagogy, or how course content and objectives can be grounded in a situated context by promoting learning strategies that encourage a cognitive learning process, which is significant for the students, has often been neglected. Obviously, how we teach, including student-teacher interaction and the classroom environment, particularly evaluation and feedback, are paramount in translation pedagogy. Trainers often devote time to enhancing their classroom environment, attempting to engage students in a joint learning experience through effective feedback, which is closely linked to assessment, particularly formative assessment. Nevertheless, despite trainers’ efforts, we often observe that the same methodology and practices have quite different effects on individual students. Encouraging students to become autonomous learners, thereby preparing them for lifelong learning too, is no easy task. One approach which addresses this problem is presented by Nicol and Macfarlane-Dick (2006: 199) who, by reinterpreting research on formative assessment and feedback, have suggested that trainers can adjust their assessment and support of trainees if they are conscious of the fact that trainees can manage their own learning processes by becoming self-regulated learners. As Pintrich (2000: 453) reminds us self-regulated learning (SRL) is:

an active, constructive process whereby learners set goals for their learning and then attempt to monitor, regulate, and control their cognition, motivation, and behavior, guided and constrained by their goals and the contextual features in the environment.    

Key to Nicol and Macfarlane-Dick’s (2006) proposal is that trainees also assess their own work and progress, thereby creating their own internal feedback. In the following sections we will consider Nicol and Macfarlane-Dick’s proposal of seven principles of good feedback practice for trainers and how we can develop self-regulation in translator trainees through motivational interviewing, thereby enhancing their cognitive learning process.

2. Self-regulated learning and feedback

The term Self-Regulated Learning became popular in the eighties and is further defined by Zimmerman (2002: 65) as follows:

Self-regulation is not a mental ability or an academic performance skill; rather it is the self-directive process by which learners transform their mental abilities into academic skills. Learning is an activity that students do for themselves in a proactive way rather than as a covert event that happens to them in reaction to teaching. Self-regulation refers to self-generated thoughts, feelings and behaviours that are oriented to attaining goals.

As Zimmerman (ibid.: 66) reminds us, self-regulated learners are more likely to attain academic success and be more optimistic about their futures when they are aware of their own strengths and weaknesses; they are guided by personally set goals and task related strategies and they monitor their behaviour and self-reflect on their tasks, which can lead to greater self-satisfaction and motivation. Self-regulation is also very important for the development of life-long learning skills. In translator training, Shreve (2006: 32) has highlighted the importance of self-regulation in attaining expertise and considers that analyzing the differences between students in different phases of fulfilling their tasks: planning, monitoring, regulating, evaluating, and recognizing failed processes and task variables “would be an important step toward the development of more effective training for translators” (ibid.: 38).

The figure which follows is presented by Nicol and Macfarlane-Dick as a synthesis of current thought on feedback and self-regulation.

Figure 1: A model of self-regulated learning and the feedback principles
that support and develop self-regulation in learners (Nicol and Macfarlane-Dick 2006: 203)

The grey area depicts the trainees’ internal processes which regulate and monitor their performance and their learning processes. Pertinent to our purposes is the importance of the trainees’ own internal feedback which affects different steps in the completion of a task and, more importantly, their self-regulatory processes: cognition, motivation and behaviour. If we bear in mind that in today’s translation classrooms our trainees not only interact with the trainer but also with each other, actively constructing their own learning under the influence of the immediate learning environment, it is evident that their learning processes will be eminently different. Later we will discuss motivation and behaviour as two vital aspects to encourage SRL.

The lower part of Figure 1 suggests seven steps to support and develop SRL through effective feedback. Many of these steps will be familiar to trainers who may use some or most of them already. The authors’ proposal suggests covering all the steps to achieve optimum results. We have combined their steps with some tried and tested examples in translator education (Way 2008; 2009; 2014a; 2014b; 2017).

Nicol and Macfarlane-Dick

How to implement this in translation classes

Clarify what good performance is

Take time to offer clear, explicit criteria for all tasks and assessments. Offer examples of the expected standard (past examinations/published translations), and professional norms.

Facilitate self-assessment

Revision of others’ translations before self-revision, reflection during class presentations[1], use of the Achilles’ heel sheet for reflection on individual TC development with both positive and negative comments. This will help to improve self-monitoring during the task completion process.

Deliver high quality feedback

Feedback must be delivered in time for improvement before the next task. Although it must provide corrections, the language used should be non-judgemental (avoiding adjectives such as “bad, terrible, awful”) and include expressions of approval which are closely linked to the intended goals, highlighting areas for improvement.

Encourage teacher and peer dialogue around learning


Class presentations can be used to encourage discussion and peer feedback. Learning to defend their translation decisions forces students to reflect on how and why they may have acted in a particular way. Individual and group tutorials can clarify doubts and indicate to trainers topics that may need to be revisited in class.

Encourage positive motivation and self-esteem

Providing trainees with profiles of successful graduates working in diverse fields has proved to be an excellent stimulus for trainees. Visits from graduates who describe their first professional experiences have also been a useful tool to motivate trainees. Give examples of your own earlier problems or mistakes as a translator.

Provide opportunities to close the gap between current and desired performance

Allowing trainees to repeat a task or an exam and providing opportunities to discover whether feedback has been assimilated and then providing further feedback has been used for some time now, although this often depends on external constraints such as time, class sizes and university regulations.

Use feedback to improve teaching


Simply giving feedback without gauging its effectiveness will not improve translator training. The pilot study we have implemented is a further step in using effective feedback and encouraging SRL in an attempt to improve translator training.

Table 1: Implementing Nicol and Macfarlane-Dick’s principles in translator training

Nicol and Macfarlane-Dick (2006) discuss the growing body of literature concerning feedback and SRL, offering suggestions for improvement. Nevertheless, although they indicate (ibid.: 211) that students may accept criticism more easily from their peers than from the teacher, research by King (2016: 171-72) showed that many trainees preferred the teacher’s feedback and criticism (see also Massey and Brändli 2016: 193). This may be due to the trainees’ prior educational baggage and experience in earlier education, or to the highly competitive nature of the classroom environment, despite trainers’ efforts to alleviate this. Grades are still important to students who must compete for internships, grants or professional positions and many trainees seem to be more concerned with externally regulated or extrinsic goals (a grade/comparison to peers) rather than with intrinsic goals which are prompted by the wish to become a competent translator or to overcome obstacles. The important question here is not transmitting feedback to trainees, but discussing it with them so that they, in turn, can extract the significant elements which may affect their future actions.

Zumbrunn et al. (2011) provide an excellent review of the literature on encouraging SRL in the classroom, presenting different SRL models that have been proposed. They describe one circular model (ibid.: 4-6) by Pintrich and Zusho (2002) and another by Zimmerman (2000b, 2009: 300) who suggests three phases:

  • Forethought and planning phase: analyse the learning task; set goals towards completing the task
  • Performance monitoring phase: employ strategies to make progress on the learning task; monitor effectiveness of the strategies employed; monitor motivation for completing the learning task
  • Reflection on performance phase: Evaluate performance in the learning task; manage emotional responses to the outcomes of the learning experience.

By completing each phase and then starting all over again the process is repeated and, with effective feedback and support, should improve. This model can be easily adapted to the phases of SRL for translator trainees and applied to any of the multiple tasks in the translation process (research, terminology mining, translating, or revising):

Figure 2: Phases of SRL and translation (adapted from Zumbrunn et al. 2011:6)

Besides the importance of effective external feedback as suggested by Nicol and Macfarlane-Dick (2006: 201), of particular interest from Figure 1 is, as the authors point out, that “feedback both regulates and is regulated by motivational beliefs”. Let us turn our attention, then, to student motivation, or the lack thereof, which is unchartered territory in TS pedagogy.

3. Motivation in TS

Only recently has research shown improvement in translator training when attention is paid to emotions, confidence and self-efficacy, and motivation (Haro-Soler 2017a; 2017b; 2018a; Rojo and Ramos 2016). Psychophysiological aspects of TC have remained on the fringe of research when, in fact, they are at the very core of all the other subcompetences. One example is the EMT Translator Trainer Profile (2013), which, besides describing the fundamental requirements to become a translator trainer, proposes five competences: Field, Instructional, Organizational, Interpersonal, and Assessment. Its Interpersonal competence includes the “ability to establish suitable learning environments for students” and in Instructional Competence the “ability to motivate students”, however, these vital elements remain underdeveloped.

Clearly, as trainees’ TC develops individually, at different paces, and their SRL processes do likewise, it is attention to the individual which may make a difference. As Kelly (2008: 114) has stated:

Respect for individual learners is probably best covered by Robinson (1997/2003) and by Calvo and Arrés (2006), in that they avoid the tendency present in much other literature on teaching and learning to assume that there is one correct way to teach and learn applicable to all students, a premise which is rightly questioned by these authors.

Motivation is crucial at all phases of completing a task. If a translation task is not considered to be authentic or useful to their training or the instructions are unclear, trainees will not be motivated to complete it. They will be less likely to establish precise goals for each part of the task, plan which strategies to employ or monitor their work as they progress. Furthermore, if they do not believe that they can successfully complete the task (low self-efficacy beliefs), they are less likely to use self-regulating strategies (planning, monitoring, revising) which in turn reinforces their belief that they cannot complete the task successfully, completing the vicious circle (see Zimmerman 2000a).

Motivation is an extremely complex concept relating to our behaviour, commonly understood to be an internal process that prompts us to act or drives us towards a goal. Unfortunately, we cannot observe motivation directly and it can only be deduced by observation. Huitt (2011: sp) presents an overview of motivation for learning, defining motivation as “an internal state or condition (sometimes described as a need, desire, or want) that serves to activate or energize behavior and give it direction”, also incorporating Franken’s (2006) inclusion of activating behaviour and prompting persistence in a given behaviour as elements produced by motivation.

4. Motivational interviewing

Whilst researching motivation we encountered motivational interviewing (MI), an approach grounded in experimental social psychology, used to provoke behavioural changes, often in addicts (alcohol, drugs, gambling), using empathy, motivation and  objective assessment feedback to counteract low levels of self-efficacy or low self-esteem and negative behaviour (Miller 1983; Rollnick and Miller 1995). Miller and Rollnick (2013: 29) offer three definitions of MI (for a layperson, practitioner and technical) of which we will use the first:

Layperson’s definition
Motivational interviewing is a collaborative conversation style for strengthening a person’s own motivation and commitment to change.

Under no illusion as to our ignorance of therapeutic techniques, we considered that incorporating MI into our teaching practices may facilitate our attempts to identify problems and activate change in students not responding to other methods through structured tutorials using MI. To do this we must first understand the spirit of MI, which implies an interpersonal relationship with the student of collaboration, through evocation (listening to the student and eliciting responses) and encouraging autonomy by allowing the student to make choices (Rollnick and Miller 1995: 325-34). Furthermore we became familiar with the principles of motivational interviewing or DARES:

  • Develop Discrepancy
  • Avoid Argumentation
  • Roll with Resistance
  • Express Empathy
  • Support Self-efficacy

Developing discrepancy involves exploring the students’ goals and values, by helping them to identify their goals and values themselves and identifying small steps towards their goals (ibid.: 246-53); avoiding argumentation requires listening to the students and rolling with resistance on their part by not imposing anything on them  (ibid.: 196-97); expressing empathy requires skillful reflective listening to provoke acceptance of the need to change (Miller and Rollnick 2013: 34, 48-61); supporting self-efficacy requires reflective listening, expressing belief in the students’ ability to change by reminding them of past success, providing summaries of  their interventions and enhancing student autonomy with regard to change (ibid.: 66-7, 212-30).

Learning to do this requires four basic skills for interaction (OARS) as described by Miller and Rollnick (ibid.: 312-13):

  1. Ability to ask Open-ended questions
  2. Ability to provide Affirmations
  3. Capacity for Reflective listening
  4. Ability to provide Summary statements

When implementing all of the above we will need to include four basic processes[2] by engaging the students: to talk about their problems, concerns, and hopes to create an empathetic climate of trust; focusing on specific, delimited areas for change; evoking motivation by encouraging students’ to see the importance of change for themselves, whether they are ready to implement it (readiness); and planning the small steps necessary to execute changes (ibid.: 25-30).

Once we had assimilated the basis of MI our next task was to identify cases that may benefit from this approach. Given that motivation or the lack of motivation and behaviour may be seen as possible indicators of the need for further intervention in specific cases, this became a signal to be identified.

5. Identifying the pilot study subjects

Bearing in mind the SRL strategies and motivational factors described by Zimmerman and Martinez-Pons (1986) and Pintrich and De Groot (1990), we attempted to identify students who were not responding as well as expected or having obvious difficulties as denoted by their behaviour and outcomes in our four year undergraduate Translating and Interpreting degree and one year Master in Professional Translation.

Three students were selected from three different modules. For the sake of anonymity the names used are fictitious. In the table below a cross (✖) implies the absence and a tick (✔) the presence of SRL strategies or motivational factors. In all three cases they were not translating into, and in one case neither from, their A language. The A-B translation modules[3] they followed often cause greater insecurity due to the directionality of the translation tasks.

SRL strategies

Case A

Case B

Case C

Motivational factors

Case A

Case B

Case C

Establishing goals/





Flexible use of learning strategies

Goal orientations

Searching for information






Task value

Attention control/


Attributing failure


record keeping


✔ ✖

Appropriate help-seeking (peers, trainers, experts)






reviewing prior work





Table 2: Subject observation and selection adapted
from Zimmerman and Martinez-Pons (1986) and Pintrich and De Groot (1990)

Each of them presented different behavioural indicators and different levels of SRL strategy use. As shown in the table, the motivational factors coincide closely with the absence or presence of SRL strategy use. Once this had been detected, preparation of the MI sessions required reviewing their completed tasks and observational notes taken on their class presentations.

6. The pilot case studies

Building upon the DARE principles described earlier and the OARS skills required for successful MI, our first task was to review and analyse our own practices in one-to-one tutorial sessions. Surprisingly, we found that many of the principles proposed, and the skills required, had already been incorporated into our practices. Nevertheless, we continued to research further in order to hone these skills and prepare the motivational interviews[4].

Some examples include avoiding asking too many direct questions. The first sessions are dedicated to creating a collaborative atmosphere of trust:  

  • Eliciting information from the trainee on how they would describe their current situation (before considering the advantages and disadvantages of introducing changes): “How is the course going?” or “Is your group working well together?”.
  • Asking open questions requiring further elaboration to evoke an answer which will not be yes/no by repeating trainees’ statements – “You said that you gave up looking for information after a while. Why was that?”.
  • Reviewing how the trainee reached this particular situation by asking about earlier different situations. “So, John, how did you do in your German translation modules?”.
  • Avoiding blame, identifying the problem and discussing how to take small steps to solve it: “Julia, you said that you are not sleeping well. What keeps you awake?”. “You mentioned several problems (stress, tiredness, too much responsibility). Can we do anything to improve this situation?”.
  • Reinforcing strategies already seen in the module to overcome problems and tailoring them to each specific situation: “We discussed time management in our module on the translating profession. How can we apply the strategies we saw to this situation?”.

Obviously, the scope of this pilot study is limited and further research is necessary to expand on the possible battery of exchanges with trainees and how to include such findings in translator trainer training.

Case Study A - Mary

Mary was in the third year of her undergraduate degree in Translating and Interpreting (Spanish A language- English B language). Requirements to be accepted in this degree course are extremely high and the entire student intake has the very highest marks in secondary education. This frequently leads to them becoming disconcerted as their peers are immensely competitive. Mary was selected due to several factors. She did not demonstrate any of the SRL strategies, appearing reluctant to participate, and she always seemed churlish, not only with her peers, but even with her fellow task group members. She was taking the module: Introduction to Specialised Translation A-B (Spanish into English). When addressed in class, or when attempts were made to involve her or elicit further information on any task she presented, she showed signs of a lack of persistence, little effort, discomfort with any criticism from her peers, even if it was constructive, and consistently offered negative statements about her own abilities in comparison to her peers. She seemed insecure and ready to avoid or flee from any difficulties.

Her first continuous assessment marks given on a rubric of a scale of 4 were: 1.5, 2 and 2.5, showing that she was barely reaching the minimum necessary to fulfil the course objectives. It was then that we decided to intervene with MI. The first MI session was after her first continuous assessment marks. From this first session it became clear that Mary was comparing herself to her peers, rather than focusing on her own learning needs, was demotivated with low self-efficacy beliefs. Her lack of self-efficacy beliefs had been detected in the questionnaire administered as part of Haro-Soler’s Ph.D research (2018b). The first session was devoted mainly to engaging her to express her problems and concerns, attempting to evoke motivation and beginning to focus on possible areas and small steps towards improvement. This was not easy, as she tended to resist abandoning a negative, suspicious, almost confrontational posture. She repeatedly stated that as she did not achieve the same results as her peers, then why bother? The second session was after her first summative assessment, an economic translation exam where she obtained 3.5, the lowest mark in the class, and lasted over 90 minutes. This session continued to reinforce the attempts made in the first session and she finally began to show signs of readiness to reflect and implement changes. A detailed plan was drawn up to cover areas for improvement and adjustments to her work process with additional individual work agreed upon for correction and feedback over the remainder of the semester. The third session was shortly before the final examinations and after a degree of improvement had already been observed in the additional work, in her behaviour and in her SRL strategies as demonstrated by her class presentations. In the final summative assessment she resat her economic translation exam and took a legal translation exam attaining 7.25 and 8.025[5] respectively.

A further interview was held with Mary in the course of the Ph.D. research by Haro-Soler on self-efficacy (2018b) once the semester had finished. Whilst she admitted to having been very insecure at the start of the semester in an A-B translation module, especially concerning the legal translation section of the course, she was now extremely satisfied and content. She attributed her improvement to effective feedback in the classroom and to the encouragement in her MI sessions. She stated that she now felt more capable (improved self-efficacy) and had less doubts when tackling translation tasks and stated “I surprised myself”. Her demeanour had changed considerably. Mary adopted more open postures, became actively engaged more readily and smiled frequently. Evidently there may be other extrinsic elements which influence this that are beyond the scope of this first exploratory foray into MI.

Case Study B – John

John was in the third year of his undergraduate degree in Translating and Interpreting (Spanish A language – German B language – English C language). Entry requirements for this language combination are slightly lower than for English B language, but are still nationally very high. He chose to follow the module: Advanced Economic and Legal Translation A-B/C (Spanish into English) as an elective as he had received high marks with little effort in all his German/Spanish translation modules.

 John was selected because he was extremely quiet in the initial introductory classes, becoming increasingly nonchalant as the practical translation tasks progressed. His first class presentations showed little effort and persistence, although he seemed capable of much more. Inevitably, different teaching methodologies or styles may attribute to this, but as his first continuous assessment rubrics showed marks ranging between 1.5-2 (on a scale of 1-4) he himself approached the teacher for an individual tutorial. Given the situation, he was selected as a pilot study subject.

In the first session John explained that given his prior experience in the German/Spanish modules, he had been taken aback by the level and demands of this module. He demonstrated a false sense of over-confidence based on his prior results. His self-efficacy beliefs had been shaken, although he was obviously motivated to make changes and demonstrated appropriate help-seeking. In this first session, after some prompting, he finally verbalized some of his problem areas and small steps towards remedying them were outlined. Session two, shortly after the first session and just before an individual assessment piece was due, led to more steps being agreed to improve problem areas and to continue adjusting his work process for the remainder of the semester. The third session was shortly after the first summative assessment (an individual sworn translation), in which he attained 8.1 and shortly before the final examinations.

 Considerable improvement had already been observed in his demeanour in class, flexible use of translation strategies, self-monitoring and in his SRL strategies, showing greater persistence in the tasks he undertook. In the final legal and commercial translation examinations he obtained 8.4 and 8.7, receiving a final global mark (individual work, classwork and two translation exams) of 9.1. At the end of the semester John returned, not for an MI session, but to express his gratitude for the guidance that had led to a significant transformation in his approach to translation tasks, his work processes and that he now felt committed to providing better quality translations rather than “winging it” in the belief that he had no more to learn. In his fourth year he has decided to take another elective, this time from English to Spanish.

Case Study C – Julia

Julia was an international student taking the MA in Professional Translation, specialising in legal translation in the Spanish-English combination. She was working, then, in a B-C/C-B combination. The course, again, has strict entrance requirements, with hundreds of applications for just 60 places. Her educational background included languages and some translation (in other language combinations) and some professional experience in commercial translation.

In this case we see two different situations in the table. The left side of Julia’s column refers to the semester of taught modules on the MA and the right side of the column to her internship in the second semester. A slightly more mature student, she appeared to have no real SRL strategy problems, was motivated and sought help concerning her language combination problems, and was an excellent student. Two major external environmental elements led to a complete about-face in her situation. Shortly before the end of the first semester a serious family health problem meant frequent trips to her home country and additional stress. Her work began to suffer as a result, dropping from 9.3 or 9 in early modules to 7 or 7.75 in the last modules.

The first MI session was held before she began her internship to consider the external pressures due to her family situation and those she may encounter in her internship. The most significant environmental change came about with her internship. Unfortunately, the company concerned did not comply with their agreement with the university, due to losing some of its permanent staff, and after a month or so Julia was left in charge of their office in a major Spanish city. Her working hours were from 9am to 6pm, but she found herself working 10 to 12 hours a day. She was offered an additional 10 hour contract to cover the discrepancy with the hours agreed for her internship, but she quickly became overwhelmed as the short deadlines agreed by the company for clients meant that any information or terminology mining was virtually impossible, she was under a great deal of stress and suffering health problems and insomnia. Despite the university wishing to intervene, she preferred to continue as she wanted to complete her studies as soon as possible given her difficult family situation.

The second MI session was through a series of emails concerning her MA dissertation, but which were also used to help her return to her earlier state. After this session, discussing the skills and work processes used in the MA modules she stepped back and took stock of her situation. Using the Achilles’ Heel sheet (Way 2008) she reappraised all her competences and selected steps to palliate her undesirable situation concerning ergonomics, organization, planning, pyschophysiological matters, self-monitoring and help-seeking. The third session, via Skype, was shortly before defending her dissertation when she confirmed that she had put into practice all the measures discussed, overcoming her earlier state of anxiety. In her dissertation she stated that using the Achilles’ Heel sheet and the reassessment of her strategies “had instantly alleviated” her situation. She was also offered a fulltime position in the company.

7. Analysis and results

In all three cases the MI sessions were held initially in person and later, in Case C, via videoconferences. Each case was reviewed before the sessions to highlight areas for intervention and to outline a guideline of topics and strategies to be used for each case. Obviously, the three subjects selected manifested a variety of different areas for improvement at different stages of their studies. All of them were translating into their B or C/D language and in one case not even from her A language. Given the variations in their personal motivations, behavioural factors and the fact that this was a first attempt at implementing MI, this was a considerable challenge. Case study A presented greater reluctance on the part of the student to recognise and accept the need for change, and, as a result, greater resistance to discuss and design a plan for improvements. In cases B and C, on the other hand, the students presented different degrees of awareness concerning their situation. Likewise, they employed different SRL strategies too: John asked for help almost as soon as his problems became apparent to him, whilst Julia became overwhelmed and was reluctant to seek help at first, thereby aggravating her situation before strategies were employed to make amends. In all three cases some improvement was evident, although as seen in Julia’s case, reinforcement may be necessary, especially in the light of environmental changes. Nevertheless, in our humble opinion, the results far exceeded our expectations.

8. Conclusions

As a first, tentative, attempt at introducing MI to translator training, this study is obviously neither representative nor significant in its findings. It has, however, opened a new avenue of research which we hope to follow in the future with a wider-reaching study based on careful case study selection, improved MI skills for the trainers involved, and an in-depth study of the internal and external factors affecting trainees.

The question we often ask ourselves is whether effective feedback can lead to changes in student behaviour as scarce research exists in TS pedagogy on the impact of effective feedback. Translation trainers often face high student numbers and an increasingly growing workload that may make this MI approach appear time consuming and unattractive. Nonetheless, when combined with SRL strategy observation, our initial pilot results would appear to have been effective. Detecting and analyzing individual students’ SRL strategies is undoubtedly a demanding task. Nevertheless, if incorporated into everyday classroom observation and assessment it will not necessarily increment our workload. On the contrary, early intervention may even save time later. By using MI and prompting students to readjust and fine tune their SRL strategies and motivation, better outcomes may be achieved, reducing the need for lengthy correction, repeated assessments and protracted tutorials when it may be too late to do anything. Introducing sessions on SRL strategies and motivational factors in university education across the board and especially in TS trainer training, we believe, can only benefit all those involved in translator training.


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[1] For details on the class presentations see Way (2009).

[2] Four fundamental processes in MI available at: (Accessed 05.07.2018).

[3] Case A followed the Introduction to Specialised Translation course, Case B Advanced Economic and Legal Translation (both undergraduate courses) and Case C the Master in Professional Translation (specialising in legal translation).

[4] See [url=][/url].

[5] Students are marked on a scale of nought to ten in examinations with the minimum pass mark at five. Our students have the highest marks in Spain in their secondary education and therefore are often demotivated by anything but the very highest marks.

About the author(s)

Catherine Way is Associate Professor of Translation at the University of Granada and lead researcher of the AVANTI research group. She has practised as a court and conference interpreter and freelance legal translator. She has co-edited several books, is a member of the Editorial Board of The Interpreter and Translator Trainer (previously the Editor) and of the Advisory Board of Fachsprache, the International Journal of Legal Discourse and the series Aprende a traducir, amongst others, and has peer reviewed for several publishers. She also co-edited the Proceedings of the 6th EST Conference. Her research interests are legal translation, translator training and action research. She has participated as an expert for the EU in the TRAFUT (Training for the Future) programme.

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©inTRAlinea & Catherine Way (2019).
"Fostering Translator Competence: The Importance of Effective Feedback and Motivation for Translator Trainees"
inTRAlinea Special Issue: New Insights into Translator Training
Edited by: Paulina Pietrzak
This article can be freely reproduced under Creative Commons License.
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