Transdisciplinarity / cross-disciplinarity / multidisciplinarity in language teaching projects for future translators

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The article discusses the role of transdisciplinary, cross-disciplinary, multidisciplinary approach in translators' training. The paper provides an overview of this cluster of terms, underlining, on the one hand, their problematic ambiguity and, on the other, their conceptual similarity – a better match either between a professional environment and academia or borrowing from (lending to) the knowledge and skills from different disciplines to solve a problem. The paper dwells on the educational potential of transdisciplinary education and the direction it has taken in recent decades. The authors claim the academic translator training can benefit from a suchlike approach. The transdisciplinary / cross-disciplinary project is outlined as the way by which a better practice-oriented and practice-based cumulative knowledge and learning can be formed. Specifically, the paper focuses on some academic translator projects aimed at students' dealing with audiovisual translation of video, infographics and multimedia resources for academic purposes and international events support. The paper illustrates how these projects can be implemented. The authors have stepped up their efforts towards including more transdisciplinary / cross-disciplinary / multidisciplinary projects in their curricula to show how the constructive correlations between educational and professional environment can be built providing more practice-focused knowledge and skills integration for students.

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Introduction: The state of the Matter

In modern society, solving complex multi-factor problems successfully and facing recurrent challenges largely depends not only on the knowledge we have in certain scientific and practical fields, but also on our willingness to adapt our work forms to new reality, integrate our professional knowledge with knowledge and, more important, skills and experience gained in related educational spheres, businesses and industries. he concept of transdisciplinary approach, presented in the works of Bass M., K.-A. B. Dompierre & M. McAlister, A.H. Elvis, Gibbons, K. Limoges, H. Novotny, S. Schwartzman, P. Scott & M. Trow, J. Fawcett, E. Mora-Flores & S. N. Kaplan, D.D. Olds & E. Rees [3; 6; 9; 7, 20; 21] and widely supported in the works of Russian researchers Gavrilenko N.N. E.G. Grebenshchikova, S.R. Dinaburg, V.S. Mokiy & T.A. Lukyanova [8; 10; 5, 19] proved a key to many doors.

Transdisciplinary approach in education is still on the way of its formation. The variety of terms: transdisciplinary, cross-disciplinary, interdisciplinary, multidisciplinary proves this fact [13]. The ambiguity of the term ‘transdisciplinary’ causes the necessity of a more accurate definition of it in each research, as it can be referred to such options as an encouragement to business faculty in their efforts to create a better match between what business schools offer and what professional environments need, i.e. teaching empathy to business students [16]; cross-disciplinary differences in the use of instructional tools surveyed (e.g. online group projects, group tools like wikis, and specialized software) and in teaching methods (didactic, dialectic dialogic, dialectic collaborative and heuristic) [1], or cross-disciplinary learning model which explicitly aims to develop creative thinking skills across and through the disciplines [23].

According to J. Mennes, ‘A project is considered to be cross-disciplinary when it combines knowledge and know-how from different disciplines to answer a question or solve a problem’ [17, p. 57].

  1. Klein writes that ‘transdisciplinarity’ refers to the integration of knowledge from academic disciplines and practitioners [12].

Though scientific communication on transdisciplinary, interdisciplinary, cross-disciplinary and multidisciplinary projects is frequently challenged by problematic ambiguity of these terms, in our research we shall refer to these terms as close synonyms because, when applied to educational practices, they are largely based on and derived from similar principles and concepts.

Transdisciplinary approach as a new model of scientific research and educational practices is reasonably becoming popular because:

  1. it is critically important to all the needs for practice-oriented and practice-based cumulative knowledge and learning in the “here and now” operation mode;
  2. its focus on the output of integrated dynamic knowledge ready to evolve and adapt to functionally applicable context;
  3. its successful addition to and adds-on the traditional disciplinary model of education; availability of means and ways to overcome the limitations of this model;
  4. better visualized incentives and measurable goals for students, a highly structured goal implementation;
  5. self-organization and social responsibility development of the project participants.

According to Professor L.A. Kozlova, transdisciplinary / cross-disciplinary approaches in linguistics and learning theory have shaped the educational linguistics concepts which focus on the knowledge integration from a wide range of linguistic and non-linguistic subjects [14].

Most researches also highlight authentic student engagement, clear transcending perspectives, collective responsibility evolution, and cultivating curiosity as undoubtedly positive powers of transdisciplinary projects [8; 22; 3].

The researches provide examples of the transdisciplinary projects that emerged naturally from the need to go beyond disciplinary boundaries and move towards integrative collaborative work. In their opinion, by going this way the students learn the value of incorporating perspectives beyond strictly disciplinary views [4; 15; 16; 18].

Some go beyond and suggest designing curriculum in such a way it can be used to encourage a transdisciplinary perspective that helps students think about their knowledge and skills in the context of what is known about what they need in other disciplines and how it’s done. It is claimed, these complex matters are possible to teach in a way that students find accessible and useful [2; 6; 15; 16; 23].

Problem analysis. What are looking at and what are thriving at?

Translator academic education has endured quite some negative criticism from both scholars and practitioners in recent years. While the concerns that have been postulated over time vary widely, the most frequented focus on 1) criticism about the narrowness of single-disciplinary approach, 2) dissatisfaction with practice-focused and practice-based education, and 3) concerns regarding translator students' perceived lack of interest and appeal in their academic studies. After a brief elaboration of each area some positive observations and suggestions can be forwarded to create a better match between what academic schools offer and what professional translators’ environments need.

In our research we’ll turn not so much to the theoretical aspects of transdisciplinary / cross-disciplinary approaches but more specifically try to highlight the educational potential of such integration in the framework of translation projects on audiovisual translation and / or organization and translation support of international events.

It should be noted that such projects are carried out by the Department of Philology, Linguodidactics and Translation of the NVSU on a regular basis. Among the most successful projects are the audiovisual translation of the video lecture “Language Typology. Word Classes” (, the audiovisual translation of the multimedia infographic “Japan – The strange country” (Japan – The Strange country Infographic Video, Kenichi. See more:, “Human Rights” (, audio-visual translation of fragments of the animated film “First Squad. The moment of Truth” (Russia, Canada, Japan, 2009), commercial “#VisitYugra” (, COVID vaccination video (, Erasmus Mundus international conferences language support, translation projects on linguistic subjects and translation practical work. Pic. 1 illustrates the resulting version (subtitling) of the commercial “#VisitYugra”.


Picture 1. Screenshot of the #VisitUgra subtitling



In terms of creating the project environment, content and implementation requirements, developing assessment criteria, etc., the basic methodological and didactic concepts of project learning can be successfully relied on since the transdisciplinary project design and implementation demonstrates no difference to any suchlike project technology [11]. The following criteria and requirements seem to be crucial.

  1. Compatibility of the purpose or objective of a transdisciplinary / cross-disciplinary to the curriculum and/or instructional objective or goal, readiness of learners, availability of resources, and allocation of time for teaching and learning. Moreover, teachers and students need to value open-ended learning and the value of inquiry [20].
  1. The project content is presented in a logical and easy-to-understand manner. The students' independent researches illustrate and reflect the goals and objectives set. The goals and objectives of the project correspond to the educational minimums of the subjects/ technologies integrated.
  2. The ideas forwarded are authentic and original, the students refer to a wide range of primary resources. All the data and materials are collected, processed and recorded using various multimedia tools and software in compliance with copyright.
  3. The project is fully aimed at individual student or group learning, independent or group teacher guided research.
  4. Project assessment is consistently done at all the stages. Holistic and analytic assessment criteria clearly reflect the objectives. Assessment tools contain specific thematic criteria that serve as starting points for completing the assignments.
  5. Groups assess the contribution of each student and other groups through peer review. The teacher appraises the work of all groups as a whole. The performance and participation of every individual acts here as the foundation for the research scheme and the project results within the group.
  6. All the parts of a transdisciplinary / cross-disciplinary translation projects are well structured and can be easily modified and integrated in the future at different levels of education (bachelor's, master's).

In what follows, we describe the “Linguistic Typology. Word Classes” project as a part of resulting activity for two courses (Language Typology and Translation Techniques). The project was supposed to train a cluster of transdisciplinary translation skills: language skills, specialization skills, computer skills, time management skills.

At the initial preparatory stage, the teacher set the project goals, specified the tasks, framed objectives and shaped working groups of students. At this stage, the technologies and agenda were outlined, the deadlines for individual tasks and the entire project as a whole were negotiated and determined. Students were provided with assessment criteria. As a result, the project task planning schedule and resource bank were specified including the project name, the major research topics, short-time tasks, etc.) The project maintenance and monitoring were carried out online through the Google+ apps and Trello Kanban board (Atlassius+Trello. At the project implementation stage, the tasks and responsibilities were distributed within the groups, the progress was registered and monitored in the Kanban board app. The project presentation included individual and group presentations (Google presentations, Prezi, PowerPoint), peer and teacher assessment and appraisal; findings discussions and the feedback on the results of the project as a whole. Assessment criteria appraised written translation, dubbing and voice-over language quality and design, terminology compliance, genre and style authenticity, range of technologies employed, video and sound synchronization, compliance with deadlines, etc.

The project task list included:

  • composing terminology glossaries in Microsoft Excel, Google Sheets, etc.;
  • viewing the video, video segmentation for further work, video editing (if necessary), writing script in Google doc;
  • performing pre-translation analysis of the text;
  • doing a full written translation;
  • processing text for subtitles or audiovisual overlay in Movavi Video Editor, Jumbler or Open Subtitle Editors;
  • making dubbing or voice-over in Movavi Video Editor, Animoto, Murf Text to Speech, etc.;
  • submitting the recorded work to, for e.g., the Translators-Mega board on;
  • peer assessing;
  • writing feedback for peers and teachers.

As a result of the project the students created a Russia subtitled voice-over version of the English video lecture “Language Typology. Word Classes” ( Pic. 2 illustrates the resulting version of the video lecture.


Picture 2. Screenshot of the video lecture subtitling



The implemented projects and their review revealed a strong desire among both academic and practicing professionals to reinvent translator education through the inclusion of effective transdisciplinary/cross-disciplinary practices – not just theories – in order to better prepare future translator performers for the iterated challenges they will face. Transdisciplinary approaches are not only realistic, engaging, and appealing but also shape the students’ minds towards gaining constructive cumulative knowledge and advancing their integrated skills, rather than staying within the narrowing brackets of traditional academic disciplines.

The framework of the research has no claim of being pervasive, on the contrary, it serves as an initial step in circulating the transdisciplinary/cross-disciplinary approach in the translators’ academic education.


About the authors

Nina A. Plastinina

Nizhnevartovsk State University

ORCID iD: 0000-0002-7658-890X
ResearcherId: GSO-3432-2022

Candidate of Philological Sciences

Russian Federation, Nizhnevartovsk

Marina A. Stepanova

Nizhnevartovsk State University

ORCID iD: 0000-0002-6351-408X
ResearcherId: GSO-2809-2022

Candidate of Philological Sciences

Russian Federation, Nizhnevartovsk

Svetlana Y. Bogdanova

Irkutsk State University

Author for correspondence.

Doctor of Philological Sciences

Russian Federation, Irkutsk


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Supplementary files

Supplementary Files
1. Picture 1. Screenshot of the #VisitUgra subtitling

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2. Picture 2. Screenshot of the video lecture subtitling

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