Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2018


The term border can mean many things. It implies a boundary of some sort. Take political borders. The world is filled with them. They delineate the boundaries of states. These boundaries often serve as a line of demarcation that separates us from them. Political borders tend to be seen as the outer edges, the periphery, of political entities which are often defined by traits such a shared history, culture, and language. At least that is how they are usually understood from the center. But at the border, standing in the periphery, this space that serves as a boundary is perceived differently. It is not a sharp line of demarcation in the sand but a place of transition. It is a place where elements from two histories, cultures, and languages blend together to create a third option, one which may be situated in either side of the border but that borrows freely from both. Institutions of higher education located on such borders can use this feature to their advantage. They can take the particular skills that students on such borders possess and build upon them. A clear example of this is to be found in The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley’s (UTRGV) Spanish/English translation program. Students walk into UTRGV’s translation courses with key assets, including their bilingualism, and are trained to become translators and interpreters. They are trained to stand at the border and look to one side and then look to the other side, away from the periphery, from the third option. This becomes especially evident as they learn to expand and perfect their writing in two languages. Translators are, after all, in the business of producing texts for individuals who either want to or, more often, need to access certain information through translation. This requires that students learn to write like monolingual professionals in not one but two languages, and then in not one but countless varieties of those languages. This paper will explore that process. First it will comment on the role of translation in the classroom. Then it will consider the profile of students in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, a political and linguistic border, who choose to study translation at UTRGV. And finally it will describe how UTRGV’s translation program builds upon the skills brought by said students and trains them to become professional writers in both English and Spanish.

Publication Title

Crosspool: A Journal of Transitions for High School + College Writing Teachers



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