Helena Gao

Bionote of Prof. Helena Hong Gao






Dr .Gao received her PhD in general linguistics from Lund University, Sweden and post­doctoral training in psycholinguistics at the Department of Psychology of the University of Toronto, Canada. She was Research Director of the Cognitive Development Lab/Child Study Centre at the University of Toronto before she joined NTU in 2006. She is now a Senior Lecturer in linguistics, a Faculty Fellow of the University Scholars Programme, Director of the Master of Arts in Translation and Interpretation Programme, and Director of the Bilingual Development Lab at NTU. Her current research focuses on bilingual development, bilingual competence versus translation competence, psycholinguistics, and sociolinguistics.                       




Plenary Speech by Prof. Helena Hong Gao


Title: Effect of Teaching on Translation Competence of Young Bilingual Future Professionals in Singapore


Abstract: Translation competence is commonly viewed as bilingual competence.A competent bilingual is often thought to be a competent translator. This studyquestions this common understanding and aims to examine the effect of teachingof translation and academic subject knowledge on the translation competence offuture young bilingual professionals in the business context in Singapore. Aquestionnaire and a translation test comprising of 40 phrases and sentencesadapted from the local English newspaper TheStraits Times and the local Chinese newspaper LianheZaobao were designed for this study. Two groups of students, onemajoring in business and the other majoring in business and minoring intranslation were invited to translate the 40 phrases and sentences into Chineseor English. The participants were given sufficient time and allowed to usedictionaries in the test. Features of the participantstranslation results that show their levels of translationcompetence, bilingual competence and academic subject knowledge, as well asstyles and qualities of their translation were categorically identified andanalyzed. The results show that the 25 participants translated an average of75.8% of the phrases and sentences correctly from Chinese to English and anaverage of 72.7% from English to Chinese. On average, the participants pursuinga major in business and a minor in translation performed 23.8% better inChinese-to-English translations and 31.7% better in English-to-Chinesetranslations than the participants majoring in business only. The resultsindicate that both academic subject knowledge and learned translation skillscontributed to the participants, translation competence, which in turn ensured translation quality.These findings support our argument that bilingual competence itself is notsufficient for conducting professional translation. The results can also beused as references for the curriculum design of translation programmes with afocus on integrating specialized academic subject knowledge into the teachingof translation.