It’s not really like me at all. I’m generally a doer, rather than a talker. But when I graduated with my French Studies BA in July 2007, I applied to do a comparative literature masters at UCL the following year and then, when that came around, I deferred another year, then eventually pulled out completely. Then I signed up for the DipTrans preparation course at Westminster, went to a couple of classes, got scared out of my wits at how inexperienced I was, and gave up. Then I just talked about my longing to do a translation MA for years. The problem was, it was never “the right time”.
It’s survey time again on My Words for a Change. Back in 2015 I ran my first survey on adverts on translation blogs (TLDR: don’t have any adverts on your blogs!). The following year I ran one on revisions (thus combining two of my favourite subjects). I spared you all my intrusive questions in 2017 and last year I ran a survey on whether blogging is dead (TLDR: no, it isn’t yet, but it really depends on the blog).
This year I want to quizz you about qualifications. As you probably know if you’re a regular reader, lots of guest posters have written about their experiences of MAs and MScs in translation for this blog, and the vast majority of them have been positive. But taking out a year or two to study a degree at university, even if it’s a distance-learning course, isn’t an option for all of us.
After completing my BA degree in German & Spanish with the Open University, I had an idea that I wanted to be a translator but didn’t really know how to become one. I looked online and saw that anyone can call themselves a translator, so ideally a qualification would benefit me. I began hunting online at universities that offer MAs in Translation. Lo and behold, my old university was just about to start an MA in Translation and it would be their first intake of students.
I read about the course on the website – full time study would take just short of 2 years and part time study, up to 6 years. The course was split into 3 modules (more on this later). I knew how the OU worked and so I took the plunge and registered for the first module L801 starting February 2017 ending September 2017. The language combinations are German, Spanish, French, Italian, Mandarin Chinese or Arabic combined with English. You don’t have to be a native English speaker to be on the course!
You have until 4 November to take advantage of special discounts to watch BP conference videos. You can decide to watch just one, all of the BP18 videos, the current library (BP16 to BP18) or everything plus lifetime access to future videos. Your purchase (except buying just one video) will also give you chances to win a ticket to the next conference, BP19 in Bologna, at the beginning of May.
After being made redundant in the summer of 2016 from a non-language-based role with the Home Office, I decided that I finally wanted to return to using my languages regularly, rather than merely on holiday or for the occasional rendition. Translation, in particular, had always held an attraction and not just involving Modern Languages, as my Latin A level testifies. Translation had seemed a dream job and more realistic than my other illusion of becoming a professional snooker player.
Having been based in Sheffield since 2002, I was fortunate that there were still vacancies on the popular MA in Translation Studies (worth 180 credits) in the University’s School of Languages and Cultures and I was duly accepted. I was also confident that my languages were still pretty good and my 2.1 from Bradford undoubtedly helped.
The Careers in Translation and Interpreting Conference in May 2013 at Aston University in Birmingham organised by Routes into Languages inspired me to apply for the MA Translation Theory & Practice at UCL as part of a career change. The application process was straightforward: BA (Hon) results of at least 2:1, IELTS (Academic) result of at least 7.6 and a written personal statement.
Last week, after trying to attend one for ages, I finally managed to go to my first ever translation slam. If you don’t know what that is, you’re not alone. Although they’ve been happening for several years, they seem to have focused firstly on literary texts (which not many of us actually translate for a living) and/or been held at conferences that target a particular language pair (French and English in the “Translate in…” series) or that sell out quickly (MET, ITI).
However, Bath and Bristol universities are now holding regular translation slams in conjunction with the ITI WRG (Western Regional Group). And I hope that more ITI groups and other associations and universities will get on board as slams are a great way to delve into the minds of our colleagues, explore translation choices and improve our own craft.