Review of CI3M Distance Course in Translation Studies (French to English)

ci3m-fr-to-en-courseLiving and working in France for the past 26 years, when it came to choosing a training programme to acquire qualifications in translation I was faced with two criteria:

  • to be able to continue my job as I worked towards getting a qualification
  • to find a higher-education diploma on the French list of national professional qualifications (RNCP)

My research led me to CI3M*, which met both my criteria. As I contacted them, I discussed the possibility of what is called VAE in France (validation des acquis de l’expérience). This is a system which allows you, based on your experience in a domain, to pass tests to obtain an official qualification. I did not have the three years’ professional activity required to follow this programme. This represents a solution to be looked into for anyone who has been a professional translator in France for more than three years and is looking to obtain a qualification.

The option which fitted my profile was to take the course in translation via CI3M’s online learning platform.

Step 1:  Pass the test. As this is an adult training course for people who are looking for a career change or who want to validate their skills, candidates must pass a translation test to begin studying.

Course requisites are to have a command of:

source and target languages

office software

search engines

Step 2: Check out the financial feasibility. In France, continuous professional training and personal development schemes are part of a major financing programme. I was very lucky to have enough credit with my personal training account to have the whole financial cost of this course paid for by what is called in France an OPCA (Organisme Paritaire Collecteur Agréé) which collects and distributes contributions for training.

Step 3: Sign the contract. An official document is signed binding the student and the service provider for the duration of the training scheme.

Step 4: Start studying. The French to English e-learning course was recorded by Daniel Toudic with a programme composed of eight modules:

Introduction: Getting to know different translation types and modes

The translation process

The translator’s tools and techniques

The translator’s resources


Quality in translations

Professional practice

End of programme assessment

The programme is given to represent 400 hours of work. As we all know, some of us are faster than others…

The time allotted to complete the course is one year. This is not negotiable… Sorry it is, but it will cost. Be sure you can do it in the given time! If you work at the same time, it will take a lot of personal investment on weekends, nights, holidays, etc. Be ready to work hard.

modules are accessible according to your course plan dates which must be respected

On the platform, you have access to lectures which you can watch whenever you choose (online access), within limits. The modules are accessible according to your course plan dates which must be respected. Time sheets are filled in every month and the time spent must correspond at least to the minimum required. More is possible (and often necessary in my case).

A very thorough and true presentation is given of the difficulties a translator needs to overcome. A translator’s job is understanding the differences between the two language styles, knowing what translating means, analysing source documents, estimating work time, spotting mistakes, asking questions, making choices, finding appropriate resources, using references, identifying terminology and choosing the right terms and terminology tools.

a large part of the course is dedicated to translating

A large part of the course is dedicated to translating where general translation techniques, types, strategies and glossaries are dealt with. The course entails translating a range of agricultural, scientific, economic and commercial, legal and judicial documents which are carefully analysed by the corrector. Correction is given to help students improve their techniques.

Quality awareness and control are very well explained in a module to bring to mind the importance of delivering quality on-time translations and the processes involved in doing so. Proofreading, editing and quality control to provide professional work, checking for completeness, consistency, spelling, grammar, punctuation, localisation, etc., are all part of the programme.

The module which deals with professional identity, behaviour and tools prepares students to deal with the reality of translating as a profession. Many references are made to interesting books to read and the professional options students can choose from are explained. The course goes on to expose the business side of the profession with its golden rules. Reflection is encouraged on strategy, getting to know your daily average speed, examining available technology to augment productivity and a fair price to charge. French law and business operating practice as a freelancer are explained. Translation tools are also presented.

a distance-learning course can distance you from others

A distance-learning course can distance you from others also. So be careful to get out there and meet other translators. In France, the SFT is a great place for meeting other translators, in Bordeaux we are very lucky to have an active Hungarian translator who organises an open office every month where we can meet and exchange experiences on translator-related topics.

CI3M also organised a meeting in Paris, where reputed translators and professors spoke about translation-related topics. With over 470 trained translators, CI3M has just announced a plan to develop training sessions throughout French cities in 2017 based on our requirements.

I would most definitely recommend CI3M to anybody in search of a challenging and professional distance-learning qualification.

andrea-mcgibneyAndrea McGibney is a French to English translator based in France. After many years as a Montessori English teacher, she is passionate about education and looking for ways to intertwine her translating skills, love for words and education. Please visit her website for more information about her services.

In her second guest post, Andrea reviews the next course she completed entitled Formation à l’installation du traducteur indépendant (taken in French).

* CI3M has changed its name to Edvenn

If you would like to write a guest post for My Words for a Change, please read this page and get in touch. You can gain an idea of the topics explored on this blog by looking at the categories page.

2 thoughts on “Review of CI3M Distance Course in Translation Studies (French to English)

  1. I can totally agree with you about remote learning. The biggest issue I am facing as a freelance English to Hungarian translator is working alone and hardly ever meeting anyone in person with whom I could talk about my work.


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