Community-service learning

A few months ago I came across two very interesting articles in University Affairs. The first described community-service learning, a teaching method in which volunteer service is combined with academic work to help students apply what they’re learning in the classroom to real-world projects, and the second offered advice on integrating service learning into your courses.

The introductory translation courses I teach at Glendon are already very practical: together, we translate and comment on texts I’ve culled from newspapers, magazines, and Internet sources, but these translations are exercises and nothing more. The final product never leaves the classroom. The two University Affairs articles got me thinking about how our in-class translation activities could have more of an impact on a Canadian community. I had already been contemplating adding a group project to my course, as I discussed in a previous post, so I’ve now decided to have students translate texts for a non-profit organization in groups, using Google Documents to collaborate.

This winter, students will be working in groups of four to five to translate material provided to us by Action contre la faim / Action Against Hunger an international network that works to save the lives of malnourished children and their families. I’m teaching two sections of the Introduction to Translation course, which means I have over thirty students who can work together on this translation project. Since each group of four to five students will be able to translate 1000-1500 words, we’ll be able to translate over 10,000 words for ACF.

I’ll be posting more about this project over the course of the semester.