This guest post has been written by three former MACITS students at the University of Leeds and it forms part of the ongoing MA review series on this blog. If you would like to write a review of your MA, you’ll find more information and a complete list of all past guest posts here. This list includes two other reviews of MAs at Leeds.
Eleanor Regin, Lara Fasoli and Miruna Georgescu met during their MA course in Conference Interpreting and Translation Studies (MACITS) at the University of Leeds (2015–2016). Eleanor was enrolled on the ACC course (French and Italian into English), while Miruna and Lara were enrolled on the Bidirectional course (Italian-English). After graduating, we started freelancing and decided to start co-writing a blog (Apertis Verbis). Miruna is currently a translation trainee at the Council of the European Union, and both Eleanor and Lara are working as freelancers. The trio share their thoughts on the MA at the University of Leeds and discuss some of the main features of the course.
The course offers a highly balanced combination of interpreting and translation modules, and the structure is flexible enough to allow students to choose the focus they prefer. The two core modules, Methods and Approaches in Translation Studies and the Summer Project (either a Dissertation or two Extended Translations), are integrated with Interpreting Skills, Consecutive, and Simultaneous Interpreting. All the practical translation modules are elective modules, and they feature in a long list of interesting courses, ranging from International Institutions to Rhetoric and Public Speaking. In collaboration with the sister courses MAATS and MAAVTS, the course offers modules to get ‘a glimpse’ into the other ‘arts’ of the industry, and explore CAT-tools and the world of subtitling.
The three of us had practical translation modules that focused on technical, literary and journalistic translation, and we also attended a translation and interpreting theory module that gave us an overview of the main translation and interpreting theories and frameworks. The practical modules gave us the chance to interact both with our lecturers and course mates and cooperate to find translation solutions for tricky passages, while giving us the chance to explore a wide range of text types.
In addition to the practical translation modules, we also took an optional CAT-tools module (Computers and the Translator). During this course, we became acquainted with SDL Trados Studio 2015, MultiTerm, MemoQ, and OmegaT, we prepared quotes, terms and conditions, invoices and set up translation projects while also interacting with ‘PMs’ (aka our lecturer). This module not only showed us how to use these translation tools, but it also taught us how to be professional and interact with agencies.
As non-native English speakers, we (Lara and Miruna) attended the Bi-di pathway, focusing on the English<>Mother-tongue language direction. This meant that in addition to our regular interpreting classes we attended the retour interpreting module throughout the whole year where we were able to work on our English in general, and solve interpreting-related language issues that arise when actively using your second language in the constraining circumstances of an interpretation.
The first semester revolved around the acquisition of Interpreting Skills, aka active listening, analysing, memory building, public speaking and language use. The note-taking technique was introduced soon enough, and the students were guided through the creation of their own system and symbols.
The training got more intense in the second semester as both consecutive and simultaneous interpreting were taught. The students were responsible for preparing the material to be interpreted, familiarising themselves with the topics of the week as well as keeping on top of the latest news. The classes were mixed, with non-native and native speakers working together and giving feedback on performances and language.
As a native English speaker, the content of the classes was quite similar to the Bi-di students, except without the retour class. I (Eleanor) had consecutive classes for Italian to English and French to English in the first term, where we focused on developing our note-taking styles and learning the basics. This was also helped by the Interpreting Skills classes that included all students (Bi-di and ACC) where we bounced ideas off each other and learnt collaboratively.
In the second term we then added simultaneous interpreting as well as continuing to improve our consecutive technique. As the classes were mixed with Bi-di and EN native students we got a great mix of material to work with and it was also always useful to be able to explain any tricky phrases or colloquialisms to each other.
Something I also found very helpful, which was not only for ACC students, was the voice coaching seminars we had with a specialist who was fantastic. This gave us individual advice on our voices and how to use stress management techniques that I’m still putting into practice.
The mock conferences were a brilliant part of the MA in Leeds that gave us a taste of life interpreting for a real conference. Not only were we involved in the interpreting on the day but also in creating booth rotas, setting topics and finding willing speakers to come and speak their native languages! It was a great way to work on stamina and look at using documents and other tools in the booth as well as dealing with Q&A sessions and PowerPoints.
The Centre for Translation Studies organised Professionalisation Talks almost every Tuesday evening. These seminars and talks were invaluable, as they give the opportunity to gain insight into the translation industry and the ‘real world’ outside the lecture halls. We met experts from the localization and translation sector, public service interpreters, business-savvy conference interpreters, translators from EU institutions, project managers and translators focusing on volunteering for well-reputed charities, among (many) others.
These talks are one of the best features of the course and we all realised just how useful they actually were after graduating and starting out as freelancers, since we had a better understanding of the industry precisely because of these presentations. During these talks, we understood the importance of having an online presence, of getting business cards, and of volunteering but we also realised which fields we were passionate about, and which sectors were not really our cup of tea.
Miruna is an Italian-Romanian freelance conference interpreter and translator, with a retour in English and Spanish as a C language. She holds a BA in Intercultural and Linguistic Mediation from the University of Bologna (Forlì) and an MA in Conference Interpreting and Translation Studies from the University of Leeds. She is currently based in Brussels, where she is working as a translation trainee at the Council of the European Union.
Eleanor graduated from the MA in Conference Interpreting and Translation Studies at the University of Leeds in 2016 and is currently working as a freelancer with French and Italian to English. She is currently based in Leeds but plans to move abroad this year, attempt the EU accreditation test, and is working on making her French into a B.
Lara holds a BA in Interpreting (Milan) and she graduated from the MACITS course in 2016. She is now working as a freelance interpreter and translator with Italian, English, and Spanish. She is looking into adding a new language (suggestions are welcome!) and she plans to further expand her company FSL Language Solutions in the coming year.