An interview at the University of Bath kicked off my experience as a student on the Masters in Interpreting and Translating (MAIT). I had two interviews (one for each of my working languages, French and Spanish): the interviews involved on-sight translation, memory exercises, discussions on current events in France and Spain and a general interview. Following the interview, I did two written tests consisting of a translation test and a short essay. The interview process lasted a day and was a fairly relaxed affair.
The course structure consisted of core modules that lasted throughout the year, these were: simultaneous interpreting, consecutive interpreting and translation. The teachers were experienced interpreters and translators who worked for institutions such as the EU and UN and also on the private market. The classes for interpreting typically had six people per class, and feedback was constructed in a way where you received comments from your peers as well as your teachers. I gained a lot from the group feedback, as I learnt a lot from my peers and it also enabled me to really focus on the performance aspect of my interpreting. Students have access to the labs outside of teaching hours, meaning that we were free to get together after classes to practice. It’s worth noting that the labs were of an extremely high quality and there were several booths. I have heard of some programmes where there are a limited amount of booths, and not everyone can interpret in the class but this is not the case at Bath. What is more, students could practice from recorded speeches that were available in the labs out of class hours and there were mock conferences organised fortnightly, meaning that we had a lot of opportunities to practice.
You then choose from modules such as Public Speaking, Public Service Interpreting and tools for translation. I personally chose Public Speaking and Public Service Interpreting to and from French. Public Speaking really helped me sound more confident and definitely improved my delivery when interpreting. Public Service Interpreting was a particularly enjoyable module, since you work to and from your working languages and work with a native French speaker who gave helpful feedback. Optional modules were offered throughout the year covering a variety of topics, such as English Law, Economics and working for EU institutions. Students also can attend free language classes at the University’s language centre.
The Bath course also allows you to sit in on other classes, many students chose to go to other classes such as editing and proofreading from the TPLS course. I chose to sit in on Spanish Public Service interpreting and also tried Précis-Writing.
A number of visitors came to Bath to talk to students about the profession and offer industry insights. Visitors included interpreters and translators from the European Commission, International Court of Justice and from the private market. I found these talks incredibly inspiring and useful, as it gave you a real flavour of the industry and provided to be the perfect opportunity to ask questions. We also had a few virtual consecutive interpreting classes with the Council of Europe and the European Parliament.
Each student could undertake a placement that usually involved either visiting an institution, dummy-boothing or working in a translation department. I spent a week dummy-boothing at the United Nations Office in Geneva, which was an excellent opportunity to put the skills I had learnt into practice and seek advice from experienced interpreters. I was also extremely lucky to have the opportunity to volunteer as an interpreter in the ancillary meetings for the Thirteenth United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice in Doha. This was organised through Bath and was a wonderful experience to rack up precious interpreting hours, see how interpretation was used in meetings and network with other interpreters. Teachers would also look out for any opportunities for students to volunteer and gain experience, such as subtitling for NGOs. I was fortunate enough to have the chance to interpret for a Nicaraguan producer for Bristol Fairtrade. These experiences as a student motivated me more than ever, and confirmed my aspirations of working as a translator and interpreter once the course had finished. I also believe that these experiences put me in good stead when I was just starting out, not only because I already had something on my CV, but also because I felt more confident.
The course finished in June, and over the summer students wrote a dissertation, which could either be a 10,000-word translation project with a 5,000-word commentary or a 15,000-word research essay on something related to the interpreting or translation field.
Overall I am extremely satisfied with my experience doing the MAIT course at the University of Bath. I am grateful for my tutors, the support they gave me and the work experience I had as a student. Of course, the work was demanding and there was indeed a steep learning curve but the teachers were behind you every step of the way. I would recommend anyone who wishes to work as a translator or interpreter to undertake this programme.
Emily Bailey translates from French and Spanish into English. After completing an MA in Interpreting and Translating in September 2015, she worked as a freelance interpreter and translator working in the fields of journalism, marketing, education, agriculture and politics and has picked up a City and Guilds level 3 diploma in Social Media and Digital Marketing. Currently she is a translation trainee at the European Parliament in Luxembourg. For more information about Emily, please see her Linkedin page, follow her on Twitter or visit her website.