Translation technology usage in university translation courses: beyond word processors

May 23, 2017 10:00 am

Technology and translation have evolved together in the last years, challenging translators to be constantly updating their software together with their IT skills to keep up to the market’s expectations. But is this evolution integrated in Translation university courses? Heriot-Watt University lecturer Ramón Inglada shares with us his views on the matter.

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When I was a Translation student in the late 90s/early 2000s, Translation classes at university were decidedly low-tech. Most students would complete their assignments at home using word processing software and in class we would implement changes on hardcopies using a pen.

hacker-1569744_1280Ten years later, as a Translation lecturer I saw that Translation classes were still markedly low-tech. Although many students now come to class equipped with their laptops or tablets and enter any corrections directly into their files, that is the only major difference.

Being fully aware as a translator of how technified our profession has become over the last 20 years, I found this quite remarkable. If we take the example of CAT tools, we will see that a majority of professionals use these tools to complete their translation projects (actual uptake varies between 60% and 90% in most studies).

If this is the professional reality for a large number of professional translators today, why are translation courses at most universities still so distinctly low-tech? Could students benefit from a more high-tech approach? Should CAT tools (and other technologies) be used in actual translation courses, instead of only being included in specific, language-independent translation technology courses?

Some of the advantages of this approach could be:

  • Students would have a much more realistic experience.
  • They would learn translation and technology skills at the same time.
  • Translation courses would provide a rich set of transferable skills for the workplace.

There might also be some disadvantages:

  • Some students might struggle with the technology and this could have a negative impact on their acquisition of translation skills.
  • Some universities might not have enough staff with the required technical skills.
  • The potential costs associated with a technology-based approach (computer labs, software licences).

What do you think? Do you believe students would benefit from using CAT tools in translation courses? Do you know any university that has already implemented this approach?

Ramon Inglada_Profile PicWritten by Ramón Inglada, Translator and Lecturer at Heriot-Watt University (Scotland). Ramón Inglada has been a professional translator since 2002. He has also been working as a university lecturer since 2012, teaching a wide range of courses, including English into Spanish Translation, Translation Technologies and Software Localisation.

Post prepared by Doris Fernandes del Pozo – Journalist, Translator-Interpreter and Communication Trainee at the Terminology Coordination Unit of the European Parliament. She is pursuing a PhD as part of the Communication and Contemporary Information Programme of the University of Santiago de Compostela (Spain)

Disclaimer_External contributions to blog


  • Eckl, Michael and Haselbeck, Sebastian (2014) Global Translators Survey 2014: A study publication by LingoIO. Available at: (Accessed 17 May 2017)
  • Metatexis (n.d.) “Why translate with a CAT tool?”. Available at: (Accessed 17 May 2017)
  • Scuk Bego, Alena (2016) Top Three Free CAT Tools. Available at: (Accessed 16 May 2017)
  • Tabor, Jared (2013) CAT tool use by translators: who is using? Available at: (Accessed 17 May 2017)
  • The Economist (2015) “Technology may not replace human translators, but it will help them work better”. Available at: (Accessed 16 May 2017)


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