Prof to lead class on two wheels

Posted on Wednesday, July 6, 2016


Prof. Jean Quirion with his students. Absent: Mikaël Isabelle, Kira Grande, Alexandre Henoud, Matea Grubesic


By Brandon Gillet

Professor Jean Quirion of the School of Translation and Interpretation is taking 13 students on a 14-day spin through Quebec as a fun, new way to teach his class on terminology, now called Termino à vélo.

The terminology course, which is part of the English-French translation BA, covers the technical and subject-specific terms students will encounter when working as translators. But instead of listening in a classroom to invited speakers, students taking the two-wheel version of TRA3555 will meet translators in their native habitats. They will visit translation agencies and in-house language services within organizations where translators are found, as well as meet with freelancers.

“The (translation) program has a strong practical component, so I’ve always tried to link the professional milieu with the students,” Quirion said. “I thought this would be a good way for students to meet professionals and see the professional settings where they work.”

The 445-kilometre route, worked out by Vélo Québec, starts in Montreal on August 20 and goes to Quebec City via Sherbrooke. The students will meet professional translators in the mornings, then cycle to their next stop in the afternoons. The cost for students is $1,600, which covers the course fee as well as room and board at motels and university residences.

“All they have to do while they cycle is think about what they just learned,” said Quirion, who notes that the trip will also provide a French immersion experience for the Anglophone students who make up almost half the class.

Inspiration for the course came from colleagues of Quirion at the French-language business school HEC Montréal, who last summer offered a business-history course that had students cycling through Quebec’s industrial heartland. Vélo Québec, who also planned that trip, will provide a guide to travel with the uOttawa group, carrying luggage and offering technical help. Quirion estimates the class will pedal 50 to 70 kilometres a day.

“The students are not seasoned cyclists,” Quirion said. “But they have been aware of the trip since January, and so many planned to go to the gym or cycle this summer to prepare.”

Quirion was able to organize some funding from the School of Translation but says he should be able to do more in future years to defray the cost of the trip. The class has had cycling jerseys made, which could provide sponsorship opportunities in the form of translation software ad space. By beginning to plan earlier next year, Quirion hopes sponsorships and other funding sources could make the trip free for students.

“I think it will be a very good introduction to the professional world as well as to terminology as it is practised today,” said Quirion, adding that the trip aims to prove that “teaching terminology in translation can be innovative and, for students, it can be fun.”

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