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Note #36: Gearing up (2009.2.26)

Next week is the beginning of the new semester, my third here at HUFS. I will be teaching four classes this semester, a step down from the five classes I taught last semester (which was a step down from the six classes I taught my first semester here). This is good, because I’ve got a lot of other things I need to get done in the next few months.

This semester will also be the first semester I won’t be teaching any Advanced Discourse (i.e., English) classes. We have a new professor coming in who will be taking over some of the English classes, so my translation-oriented colleague and I will be able to focus entirely on translation. This is nice, because I didn’t come here to teach English, I came here to teach translation. I was told coming in that I might have to teach a few English classes, so it didn’t come as a surprise, but it’s nice to be out from under that now.

It may seem odd, but English classes require more effort than translation classes for me. They’re not necessarily harder to teach—in fact, the translation classes involve a good deal more technical work—but I do find myself feeling more spent after an English class. I suppose it has something to do with the fact that the English classes I taught last year were the first I’ve taught in quite some time, maybe even a decade. Translation, on the other hand, is something that I’ve been doing continuously. Granted, I haven’t been teaching translation, but it hasn’t turned out to be as difficult as I feared it might be.

The basic structure of the translation classes is fairly simple: I assign a brief translation, the students complete it and submit it to me before the following week’s class, and in that class we discuss the issues, strategies, and techniques involved. Sometimes it’s as simple as pointing out that a certain phrase isn’t used as often as another, but a lot of the time it involves subtle nuances and things that aren’t so cut-and-dried. That may sound like a nightmare, but I thrive on that stuff—I was an English lit major as an undergrad, after all.

This semester I’ll be teaching two Science & Technology Translation classes—a second-year class that I taught my first semester here—and two General Translation classes—a first-year class that I will be teaching for the first time. The latter will allow me more freedom to explore various genres and types of texts, as the goal is to familiarize first-year students with translation in general. The former, of course, focuses on a specific field, and thus is more limited, but there’s a lot of room for variety when the specific field is “Science & Technology.” Last year, we translated articles on cell phones, solar panels, ways to keep your brain young, and various other subjects. Being a minor tech geek myself, I enjoyed the class, and I think my students enjoyed it as well. I’m looking forward to another semester of some interesting translation with these classes.

The festivities begin next Tuesday for me, and I’ll be drawing up my final plans and schedules over the weekend. The beginning of the semester usually starts out slowly, which is good, as I’ve got three major deadlines for other projects that fall within the first two weeks of March. Then things open up a bit, but I will remain busy through the rest of the semester. Beginning in April, I will be teaching another class at the KLTI once every other week, and I will also be working on a bunch of on-going projects: finishing up the proofreading for one long-overdue project, translating a novel, working on a presentation I will be making as part of a panel at a conference this summer... oh, and there’s that little matter of my dissertation as well.

If I manage my time well, I should be at a healthy level of busy-ness throughout the semester. If I do not manage my time well (which, if history is any indicator, is not unlikely), the end of the semester is going to be chaos. I’m working on the time management thing, though, so with luck I’ll be able to keep things on an even keel. I have been working throughout the semester break, but now it is time to kick things up a notch and keep them there for a while. As strange as it may sound, I think I’m actually looking forward to this.

I must be losing my mind.

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