Flow in translation: Exploring optimal experience for translation trainees

Mehdi Mirlohi, Joy Egbert and Behzad Ghonsooly
Sheikhbahaee University, Esfahan | Washington State University | Ferdowsi University Of Mashhad

The study reported here examined the amount and quality of flow experienced by trainee translators while translating different text genres. Flow (Csikszentmihalyi 1975) is an optimal experience, characterized by intense focus, control, interest and skills-challenge balance that leads to enhanced performance on a task. Although investigated in areas such as professional sports, surgery, and music, Flow Theory has not yet been tested in the area of translation. This study aimed at identifying which discourse genre would induce most flow in trainee translators while translating. Fifty-six Iranian English Translation majors studying at the University of Kashan translated three 180-word texts of narrative, expository, and descriptive genres. After each translation, they responded to a Flow Perceptions Questionnaire (Egbert, 2003) in the Likert format to report their perceptions of flow. Using repeated measures ANOVA, the researchers investigated flow differences among genres. The results indicated that flow existed in the translation classroom and that there were significant differences in the flow scores engendered by different genres. To support the findings drawn from the numerical analysis, four participants, selected from the population of subjects from the first phase, were interviewed, and the analysis of the interviews generally corroborated the statistical findings.

Table of contents

Since the last quarter of the previous century, researchers have probed environmental conditions and learner characteristics that may lead to optimal learning, and some have suggested that when a learner has a strong will to learn, he might overcome barriers in the way of learning (Csikszentmihalyi, 1990, 2008; Gardner [ p. 252 ]& Lambert, 1972). As a result, learner skills would incrementally improve and the learner would seek to tackle more challenging tasks in keeping with the increasing skills, experiencing such enjoyment in learning that it would become its own reward. The concept of flow was proposed to account for these phenomena.

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