This guest post written by Charlotte Matoussowsky is part of this blog’s series on MA courses in Translation and Interpreting (currently divided into European and Non-European sections). If you have done an MA relatively recently and would be interested in writing about your experience to help future students, then please get in touch. You’ll find more information about writing for this blog and a list of all guest posts here.
As a former student of ISIT (whose Translation MA was thoroughly described by Maëlys De Santis here) in France, I spent my last year (2013-2014) within the framework of the METS programme (Master Européen de Traduction Spécialisée), much as Julie Zabinski did, who described her own experience here. I spent one semester in Swansea (Wales, UK) and one semester in Forlì (University of Bologna, Italy). Since my experience overlaps the others’, I will try to focus on what has not been said yet.
Applying for the METS while in France
ISIT was able to send 5 out of the 6 candidates to the METS in 2013, so don’t be afraid to apply! The lack of candidates is partly due to the other interesting options available in France (gap year, apprentissage…) and partly the cost of studying abroad. But you can ask for an Erasmus grant (provided you have not done so in the past) and it will probably be cheaper than UK university fees anyway. Since a French MA lasts two years (four semesters), only students from the participating universities and school who are in their first MA year can apply for the programme.
METS in Swansea
The courses you can join are mostly drawn from the MA in Professional Translation (formerly known as the MA in Translation with Language Technology), described by David García Ruiz here, and from the MA in Translation and Interpreting, which he covers too. I’ll focus on a few things that drew my attention and on some advice for students.
The MA is, in my humble opinion, incredibly ambitious given the few hours we spend in class, particularly in the Interpreting module, which covers simultaneous and consecutive interpreting; but the first-class professors are absolutely dedicated to their students’ success. The modern, fully equipped language labs and the library are open almost around the clock. There is not much theoretical teaching, but the professors make sure we use it in our daily practice (the skopos theory will stay in my mind forever!). You’re expected to learn the rest during the research you do for your essays. The teaching is overall very practical and team-work oriented.
Be prepared though: in the UK, a full-time MA usually lasts one year (two semesters). So if you’re from a country where an MA last two years, you may find that some modules overlap what you have already learned. I would recommend, in this case, to try to go to Swansea in the second semester, since the modules may be more advanced. But my main recommendation is to enrol in as many classes as you can: the workload can be heavy, but there are far fewer hours sitting in class than in France, so seize the opportunity to learn a lot (keep the essay deadlines in mind though!).
METS in Forlì
The MA in Specialized Translation of the Scuola di Lingue e Letterature, Traduzione e Interpretazione (SLLTI) of the university of Bologna, which takes place on the Forlì campus, is a very reputable MA in Europe, and for good reason. Students acquire a solid knowledge of linguistics and translation theory, which they use in their daily translation practice. Every class takes place twice a week, which means you will have a heavy workload to cope with to pass the five modules (especially if, like me, you had a 6-hour week in Swansea!).
The school covers a large number of language combinations (usually into Italian), including Slavic languages, such as Russian and Bulgarian. Among the classes offered, I particular liked the multimedia translation ones, which cover (depending on the tutors and language combination) comics translation, video games localisation, dubbing, and, of course, subtitling. Technical translation classes were excellent too. Be prepared for some heavy theory classes as well. Homework is mostly individual, with occasional work in pairs or small groups. The teachers are highly skilled specialists and excellent teachers: kudos in particularly to the professor who managed to get me interested in textual linguistics! As an ISIT student, I sometimes felt I lacked some of the theoretical knowledge expected in an MA of this kind, but being very familiar with my working languages compensated for this.
Should you do it?
I definitely recommend the METS programme to anyone who has decided to start a career in translation and can afford it. It’s a unique, intercultural and academic life experience and it certainly attracts an employer’s eye! Before applying and choosing your universities, look carefully at the courses offered, keeping in mind your working languages, but also collect as much information as you can on the teaching style, the assessment methods, the general atmosphere, the non-translation classes you may be interested in… Once there, just dive in and make the most of it!
At the end of the programme, you are required to write a report and give a presentation on your experience. I would be happy to send my report (in French) to whoever would like more detailed information on Swansea and Forlì universities.
After a few in-house experiences, Charlotte Matoussowsky now works as a freelance translator from English, Italian and Russian into French. She is based in Orléans (France). A keen traveller, she is specially interested in social sciences. For further details about her services, please see her LinkedIn profile. You can also follow her on Twitter.
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