'We need to reflect on what makes us human translators': Meet Dr Yu Hao, Translation Studies lecturer at the University of Melbourne

A portrait of Dr Yu Hao.

Dr Yu Hao is a lecturer in Translation Studies at the University of Melbourne. Yu is a graduate of the Master of Translation program (now the Master of Translation and Interpreting), and her research focuses on translator education and cross-cultural crisis communication – so she’s in the perfect position to advocate for the value of human perspective in an increasingly automated field.

Yu spoke to us about her research, the industry and the Master of Translation and Interpreting.

Machine translation, with its ever-improving quality and ease of access, promises to automate aspects of the translation process. Contemporary research looks not only at new ways of translating and how technology is integrated into these, but also at topics such as job automation, translators' anxiety, and ethical and environmental concerns about the use of machine translation.

With this rapid development of technology, we need to reflect on what makes us human translators – to be creative and critical with translation problems and to be empathic towards those we work with.

It takes more than bilingual competence to translate. Outstanding translators can grasp nuanced cultural differences and, more importantly, the nuances of humanity.

As a bridge between the English and Chinese-speaking worlds, open-mindedness allows a translator/interpreter to truly understand both sides. This helps overcome any language and cultural barriers.

Developing our understanding of the world and learning foreign languages is a lifelong journey. I hope our graduates are open-minded, empathic, and creative, and choose to make learning and understanding different languages and cultures their lifelong pursuit.

My passion for translation and interpreting was first sparked while studying in the Master of Translation program here at Melbourne. That’s how I learned about different branches within this field and how broad it is.

It was through the experience of working on a minor thesis project that I realized how intellectually fun doing research in translation studies can be. With my commitment to excellence in teaching, I hope to pass on this passion to current and future students.

What I research is close to the content of my teaching, so I’m able to bring cutting-edge research and the newest ideas into our classroom discussions. At the same time, the chance to observe how my students learn and respond to my feedback also provides me with valuable insights that further inspire my research in training and education.

Our degree offers a diverse curriculum so students can dive deep into what interests them most.

The program is designed for several groups: students who want to gain professional skills to mediate cross-cultural communication between Chinese and English-speaking communities; those who are interested in learning both languages;and those who are interested in doing empirical research in translation and interpreting studies.

During their coursework study, all our students are exposed to both languages and cultures, work with translation technologies, and cultivate vital human skills such as teamwork, communication, and leadership.

For students who want to become professional translators, we offer training in several specialised fields of English-Chinese translation, and the chance to build professional experience and networks through an internship with a translation company. Students in the research stream can work on a research project in translation studies or a related discipline under individual supervision – they’ll gain a systematic overview of translation theory paradigms and research methods used in the field.

Life is short. Put your time and energy into what you are truly passionate about. To be honest, I feel happiest when my papers are published in international peer-reviewed journals in my field. It’s the greatest recognition and encouragement for an early career academic.

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Jarrod Strauch