The Professional Learning Community for Translation and Interpretation convenes for first In Person Meeting

Working together to Professionalize Translation and Interpretation Services in Sri Lanka

The long-awaited first in person Professional Learning Community (PLC) Meeting was held on the 10th & 11th June 2022 at Sigiriya Jungle, Sigiriya. The two-day residential programme was attended by Academics from the four partner universities that offer the four-year Bachelor of Arts Translation Degree Programme.  From the outset the establishment of the PLC had two clear objectives. Firstly, to create opportunity for likeminded academics to particularly discuss BA Translation Studies in the already established forum of academics. Secondly, to also create a space for translation professionals to focus on specific challenges relating to translation, interpretation and promotion of languages.

Professor Manoj Ariyaratne (Chairman, PLC), welcoming his fellow academics noted his appreciation for the opportunity that such a forum creates for academics and professionals to focus on specific challenges relating to the multilingual nature of Sri Lanka and gender-based barriers. In his speech Mr. Don Brownell (Director, NLEAP) noted the vital role the professionalization of translation and interpretation services would play in promoting the effective implementation of the Official Languages Policy. Mr. Niyas Raskin (NLEAP) read out a message from Dr. Premakumara warmly welcoming the representative Universities and thanking NLEAP for facilitating a platform for Translation Academics to discuss opportunities and challenges in implementing Translation and Interpretation programmes. He also noted his appreciation of the invaluable links established by NLEAP to Canadian Translation and Interpretation Academia.

The first session on ‘Engendering Translation Teaching Methodologies and Syllabi’ led by  Prof. N. Selvakkumaran (Head of the School of Law,  SLIIT) along with Saama Rajakaruna (Gender Equality Specialist, NLEAP) paved the way for candid and fruitful discussion amongst the participants.  This was followed up by a virtual discussion on ‘The Role of PLC, Internships in Translation Degree Program’. The panelists Prof. Luise von Flotow (School of Translation and Interpretation, University of Ottawa),  Prof. Malcom Williams  (Associate Professor, School of Translation and Interpretation, University of Ottawa) and  Hilaire Lemoine (International Language Policy Advisor, NLEAP) were no strangers to the PLC members who highly regard them as veterans in the Translation field. The easy familiarity and mutual respect contributed to the open and enthusiastic discussion on the active role that the PLC could take in creating meaningful internship opportunities for students following the Translation Degree Programme.

The sessions on the second day began with Mr M. Thirunavukarasu, (Deputy Director, NLEAP & Attorney -at-Law) sharing a presentation on the Official Languages Policy. Which was followed by presentations about the present status of BA Translation Degree by the individual universities. The latter half of the day saw discussions on suggested amendments to the PLC Constitution, its progress and next steps, which included incorporating the suggestion by Professor Selvakkumaran to change the name from ‘Professional Learning Community’ to ‘The Professional Translation and Interpretation Learning Community (PTILC)’ to better hone in on the focus of the Learning Community. In his vote of thanks Dr K Kannathas (Secretary, PTILC) thanked all the PTILC members for their participation and the Government of Canada for the technical assistance provided to the Universities, through NLEAP, to continually update and enhance the ongoing Degree Programmes. In his closing remarks Mr Niyas Raskin (Language Policy and Teaching Specialist, NLEAP) expressed appreciation to all the PTILC members for their continued support and assured them of NLEAP’s continued commitment to work alongside them to professionalize Translation and Interpretation Services in Sri Lanka.