Profile of Éric Dupont: Winner of the Award for Distinguished Teaching

2011-2012 Issue 1

Éric Dupont with McGill Principal Heather Munroe-Blum

Éric Dupont with McGill Principal Heather Munroe-Blum

YOU ARE ALSO A NOVELIST AND A TRANSLATOR, WHICH ARE SOLITARY ACTIVITIES QUITE DIFFERENT FROM TEACHING. WHAT MOTIVATES YOU TO ENTER A CLASSROOM?

I’m actually a very sociable person. While I do need long hours of solitude, there is a part of me that wants to share knowledge, tell stories and interact with people.

HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN TEACHING AT MCGILL AND WHAT DO YOU TEACH?

I’ve taught here since 2003. There are four levels of Translation courses and I usually teach levels 2 and 3, as well as the Précis-Writing course and theory courses at the graduate diploma level.

HOW DO YOU ENGAGE YOUR STUDENTS TO FACILITATE LEARNING?

In the classroom I use the computer a lot – my projector’s always on. I put up summaries of their work and go over the issues – what works, what doesn’t. While I am very strict in my mark ing, I’m also conscious that you have to be tactful. I also like to tell amusing stories – my students laugh a lot.

In terms of class structure, I use a mix of independent, group and class activities. That’s essential because when they arrive after a hard day’s work or a big meal, you have to keep them awake! [Laughs] So, I’m very well prepared and entertaining.

HOW DO STUDENTS RESPOND TO YOUR SELF-DESCRIBED “STRICT” APPROACH TO MARKING?

When you teach translation, you touch something very sensitive. Language goes to the heart of our identity: not only our national identity but our personal identity. Every sentence that we utter, every word that we use, every text that we write is a mirror of who we are – the sum of our experiences. So I warn my students: “I may tell you things about the way you speak and write that you will find difficult to accept. Think of this as an opportunity to explore all the dimensions and possibilities of our language.”

WHAT DO YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT TEACHING AND WHY?

How motivated the students are – and their thirst for knowledge. Also, I love it when they find jobs in translation, which is often the point of their studies. That’s especially true when it’s someone from abroad – a little victory over adversity because many of them find that their foreign degrees are not recognized in Canada.

WHAT DO STUDENTS LIKE ABOUT YOUR COURSES?

I have a very good memory for each student’s progress. It’s a gift really, and it impresses them. I remember their work from one assignment to the next over many weeks, so I might say, “Well, Joanne, I see you’re still forgetting to add that second ‘r’ to ‘embarras.’” Some people can sing – but at least I can do that! Also, I bring lots of recent articles and texts into the classroom. They love it when I show them some of my own translations and discuss the nuts and bolts of the translation business – to give them insight into the life of a freelance translator.

DO YOU DO ANYTHING WITH YOUR STUDENTS OUTSIDE THE CLASSROOM?

Since I’m well connected in the local literature and theatre communities, I’ve been able to draw on that. For example, a local theatre troupe – Théâtre de l’Opsis – was putting on Une Maison propre [A Clean House by Sarah Ruhl]. I invited the translator, Fanny Britt, into the classroom. So, we studied the play and Fanny’s translation, then we went to see the play at Place des Arts. They really loved that.

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT RECEIVING THIS AWARD?

I’m very happy about it. I like to think that it’s an award for me and my students because teaching is a communion among many people – we learn a lot and become different together.

Speak Your Mind

This blog is kept spam free by WP-SpamFree.