I know we have many JAT members who also teach translation or work in agencies as coordinators, so you may be interested to hear about a product I saw demonstrated in a recent webinar.

Traditionally, the way we mark, revise, or evaluate student-submitted translation assignments is to open the documents in Word and use the Track Changes or Comment functions to identify, categorize, and correct errors, and allocate deductions or add points where necessary. A similar process might be followed in translation agencies when prospective contract translators or employees submit trial translations, which are then assessed by in-house staff to determine whether to take on the candidate. These tasks become onerous for classes with large numbers of students or agencies with plenty of candidates seeking work.

The translationQ computer-assisted revision system was developed by Belgian company Televic to automate some of these activities in a bid to speed up the revision process and improve consistency and objectivity in marking and evaluation. The workflow starts with the teacher creating the source text and sending it to their students via the language-independent translationQ system (I’ll use “teacher” and “students” in this explanation, but it could equally be “translation coordinator” and “applicants”). The students see the source text as a series of segments (optionally segmented by the teacher) with corresponding boxes into which they input their translations. Students can export the source text if they wish, so that they can use their preferred translation tool (Word, memoQ, or Trados, for example) to complete the assignment, then import the translation back into the translationQ system and submit the finished assignment to the teacher.

The teacher logs onto the translationQ system and starts making corrections to the first assignment. Once a correction is made, an error category assigned, and a deduction made, the system scans the other assignments and applies the same actions to the offending word, phrase, or punctuation mark, subject to review by the teacher. This reduces the overall revision burden and ensures that the marks and comments are consistently applied across the entire class. Statistics for individual students and errors and error categories are generated, allowing the teacher to focus on appropriate remediation at the next lesson. If a translation assignment is recycled in the following year, the system automatically applies the previous year’s corrections to the newly-submitted papers, ensuring consistency across academic cohorts.

I don’t know any details about the charges for using the translationQ system or any other conditions of use, but I would be interested in testing it out in my university classes (even though I have small numbers, ways of reducing the revising and marking burden are always welcome). I can see it has potential for agencies screening large numbers of translator candidates, and for professional development activities such as JAT’s eJuku program.

Disclosure: I have no association with the vendor of translationQ. I attended the webinar in my capacity as a teacher of JE medical translation at the University of Queensland.

Tony Atkinson