Department of Translation


Best Practices Adopted by the Department of Translation

1.    Articulation of appropriate objectives

As the provider of a humanities programme in Hong Kong’s only liberal arts university, Lingnan’s Honours Degree in Translation sets out to provide an education in bilingual studies which can produce graduates with the capacity to think for themselves as well as with bilingual competence in Chinese and English. The nature of translation courses determines that both English and Chinese must be used as media of instruction to enable students to achieve a reasonably high level of communicative competence in both Chinese and English, to develop their capacity for translating between the two languages and to understand differences and similarities in the cultural, political and linguistic environment which affect translation and interpreting. Our translation graduates, with their highly developed bilingual skills, are very competitive in the job market.


2.    Management, Planning, and Accountability

The Department has long since established a liberal democratic tradition with all its members fully involved in every stage of major decisions. The programme is managed by the Department Board, which closely monitors all the courses offered. All matters relating to the Translation programme are discussed at different levels and feedback and evaluation are gathered through various channels: Staff-Student Consultation Committees, Advisory Boards and External Academic Advisers, etc. The Department Board carefully considers, discusses and acts upon the suggestions and recommendations from such sources. Regarding matters of course offerings and assignment of teaching duties, the Head of Department seeks the opinions of the staff members of the Department.


The Advisory Board for the Department consists of 7 members, including well-known figures from the various local universities and from the professional community at large. Members normally meet once a year to discuss aspects of the management of the programme and to put forward suggestions for changes as well as links with the academic world in general. Specialists in translation and interpreting from other institutions have been invited to act as External Academic Advisers.


The Bachelor of Arts (Honours) Translation programme, offered by the Department of Translation, was initially validated in 1991 and later revalidated in 2001. The Credit-based Translation programme was approved for adoption from the 1999 intake to provide students with more flexibility. The Department also conducted four four-year/five-year programme reviews, in 2005, 2009, 2014 and 2020. Besides the Department Board, Advisory Board, etc., and the division of administrative duties among staff, such as for translation project coordination, the Year Tutors ensure the smooth operation of the Department.


3.    Programme development and approval processes

Any decisions concerning programme changes are made after taking into account the needs of translation students so as to enhance the development of new pedagogical approaches. Where possible, one external academic adviser is invited to attend a Department Board/Examination Board meeting each year while written reports prepared by all the external academic advisers are carefully studied. Graduate surveys are conducted at regular intervals on how students view in retrospect the programme; the information thus gathered is used for further amendments or changes to the programme. The Department also conducts surveys with its current students on an annual basis. The HoD and staff members meet with student representatives at Department Board meetings and Staff-Student Consultation Committee meetings. Any proposed changes are forwarded to AQAC, CCGEC and the Senate for final approval. The translation programme has undergone substantial changes in the past decades.


The Department has a well-developed democratic practice in place. Programme changes, major or minor, have to be thoroughly discussed and approved by the Department Board, instead of by the HoD.


4.    Programme monitoring and review

The Department maintains formal and informal channels of communication with students. The quality of teaching is constantly monitored through CTLEs and by external academic advisers. On top of the staff-student consultation mechanism, the Year Tutor system is in place to ensure that students’ feedback is collected in time. The Co-ordinators of the Translation, Interpreting and Studies courses are responsible for dealing with issues related to the teaching in those three streams. The project co-ordinator will be in charge of the project assessment exercise. In addition, the University conducts programme reviews periodically, and the AQAC and the Senate oversee the overall quality of the programme. The Department closely follows university policies and procedures.


5.    Curriculum design

The aim of our design is to ensure a broad and balanced curriculum which prepares students for their career development after graduation. Sufficient practical translation courses are offered in response to the needs of the job market without compromising academically challenging courses to train students in critical thinking, preparing them for further studies. Each year a number of students enroll in postgraduate programmes either locally or overseas. In order to help students attain a higher degree of competence in translation, a year-long Final-Year Translation Project/Translation Studies Research Project is required of all. Besides, students can take two short translation projects in two different directions, both E-C and C-E. There is a right balance between language proficiency and translation skills on the one hand, and between literary and cultural studies on the other. The cultural studies component is a unique feature among translation programmes in HK. Quite a number of new courses have been designed to cater to the needs of the core curriculum, such as Bilingual Cyber Culture; Bilingual Studies in Humour; Chinese Writing Workshop for Translators; Cross-cultural Studies of Children’s Fantasy Literature; Cross-cultural Studies of Supernatural Literature; Dialogue Interpreting: Chinese and English; Food, Culture and Identity; Introduction to Computer-aided Translation; Madness and Literature; Reading Popular Fiction; Subtitling: Issues in Audiovisual Translation and Culture; and Vampires, Monsters, and the Gothic in Literature and Culture.


To improve students’ English capability, a newly designed program elective course named Global English Through Subtitles has been developed in support of the new ELE program.


6.    Programme delivery, including resources, teaching mode, and student learning environment

The Department adopts a lecture/seminar, sectional approach and tutorial model as a significant component of the teaching and learning process for most of the courses except the Final-year Translation Project, in which case students each engage in an extended translation project spanning two semesters in their final year so that they can have ample opportunities to learn translation skills by working under the close supervision of a teacher-mentor on a one-to-one basis. Students have reported on how much they benefit from this mode of teaching. Apart from translation project, students also have the option of writing an English thesis in lieu of translation.


To encourage students to take the Final-year translation project in the BAT curriculum more seriously and to award students who have made a great effort and produced quality translation work, the Board has set up a Translation Project Prize for the best translation project(s). A penalty system was adopted to ensure students meet the attendance requirement. The attendance records will be countersigned by both teachers and students.


To keep the University well-positioned to meet the needs of students and prepare them to join the work force, the Department purchased the SDL Trados Studio 2019, a globally used CAT tool in the translation industry. Also, the Department subscribed a cloud-based computer-aided translation tool, Termsoup. It is an effective translation and reference tool for staff and students with its built-in dictionaries, resources and structure.


7.    Out of classroom learning – Internship Programme and others

The University’s exchange programme with overseas universities has been very helpful. Translation students have done very well in competing for such opportunities to study overseas or in mainland China for a semester. The majority of students have been given such opportunities to study abroad in countries in America, Europe and Asia. Their horizons have been broadened and their language skills enhanced.


Meanwhile, the Department also has an Internship Working Group responsible for making available to students internship opportunities with various local organizations. Students have secured many internships, and through these they earn practical experience in translation and interpreting. On the other hand, service learning components have been incorporated into a number of courses in the past couple of years, including Bilingual Cyber Culture, Subtitling: Issues in Audiovisual Translation and Culture, and Translation of Texts in Popular Culture (E-C & C-E).


8.    Assessment

The programme’s assessment arrangements have been effective, due no doubt to the quality-assurance mechanism set up at the departmental level. The assessment is done by individual teachers, the Department’s Examinations Officer, the Projects Co-ordinator, the HoD and ultimately, the Department Board. The grading process is rigorous and maintains consistency in marking standards. The Department has adopted the outcome-based approach and deployed rubrics extensively for criterion-referenced assessment. The assessment pattern of most courses taught by the Department is normally 50% continuous assessment plus 50% final examination except for some courses which have opted for 100% continuous assessment.


The assessment of the Final-year Translation Project is conducted in a double-blind second assessment mode. To ensure fairness, a second-assessment panel is formed every year to reassess translation projects that are given particularly high or low grades. The assessment process of the project is among the most rigorous in Hong Kong. The assessment of translation projects is noted for its fairness. Where necessary, a third reader is brought in to assess anonymously the project(s) in question. It is by no means rare that some projects may be assessed four or five times. Samples of six projects are forward to External Academic Adviser for comments every year.


9.    Teaching Quality and Staff Development

The staff members of the Department are known for their dedication to teaching. This is reflected in the Overall Course Evaluation and Overall Teaching Evaluation scores, which have been consistently above University Means. Some staff members have won the Teaching Excellence Awards.


The academic standing of the Department was confirmed by its excellent 2014 RAE results. It ranked first among all the translation programmes in Hong Kong in terms of the number of three-star and four-star rankings given to research carried out by members of the Department. Recently, the Department was awarded the University’s Research Output Excellence Award in 2018. Most encouragingly, Prof. Leo Chan received the Research Grants Council’s Humanities and Social Sciences Prestigious Fellowship Scheme (HSSPFS) Award 2018-19 and Prof. Isaac Hui received the University’s Research Output Excellence (Arts) Award 2019.


10.   Student participation

Student participation in decision-making concerning curriculum design is a feature of the Translation programme, and this is seen in the areas of programme planning, monitoring and review, among others. Regular surveys of student attitudes are conducted to find out what students think of the teachers, the programme and other aspects of student life on campus.


11.    Activities specific to research degrees

The Department enjoys national and international prestige, attracting high quality applicants to its programmes. It is particularly strong in the area of theoretical translation studies and translation history.


Translation department admitted its first MPhil student in 1995, and up to now, over 20 research postgraduate students have completed their studies. Its PhD graduates have secured teaching and research positions at high-ranking universities upon graduation. Postgraduate students are normally required to perform teaching duties as assistants to full-time staff members; this gives them the opportunity to acquire skills in teaching undergraduate translation courses. No course work is required of the students by the Department. Postgraduate seminars are held from time to time so that students can present their research and discuss it with their peers as well as faculty members of the Department. Supervisors closely and regularly guide their students in their research and keep the University informed of their progress by submitting assessment reports to PSC.



(as of May 2020)