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.
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.
I studied a BA in Translation and Interpreting in Spain and I loved interpreting. However, after university, I got a full-time job and never worked as an interpreter. A few years later I still wanted to give it a go and become a professional interpreter so I decided to move to the UK to brush up on my English. I worked in PR for two years and then I started looking for MAs in Conference Interpreting. I was already living in London and the MA at London Metropolitan University offered the possibility to work into your B language, which caught my attention. Not all MAs offer this option and I thought working into a B language would be crucial for the private market.
According to the back cover of Don’t Trust Your Spell Check, “Everybody makes mistakes”. Unfortunately, its author, Dean Evans, is no exception. In a book that promises “pro proofreading tactics and tests to eliminate embarrassing writing errors”, nothing could me more disappointing than finding some of the latter in the body of the text and the tests. Given that this is an independently published book, I guess there was no money for a copy editor and/or proofreader, which is a shame.
Having said that, as an experienced editor and content writer, Evans describes strategies and gives explanations that are well worth noting. And the many tests in the second half of the book are extremely helpful as a training exercise. Although it would be more useful to discuss differences of opinion in person with an experienced tutor, tackling the tests is far better than doing no practice at all.
This is the Bristol MA’s USP. For a start, it’s entirely based on distance learning. All teaching is on-line: there’s never any need to visit the campus. This is of course invaluable for anyone who has other commitments to juggle, as I did at the time (I graduated in 2015). What’s more, the course can be completed either in one year full-time, or over two to three years part-time, starting in either September or January.
I received my M.A. in Translation (Spanish concentration) from Kent State University’s Institute for Applied Linguistics in 2013, and I have been working as a freelance translator and editor since graduation. I entered the master’s program directly from my undergraduate studies with significant interest in translation but very little knowledge of the industry, and right away I recognized that the program was exactly what I was looking for. I was selected for a graduate assistantship, which involves teaching undergraduate language or translation-related courses. I taught two undergraduate Spanish courses per semester my first year, and I taught a hybrid Spanish course and worked in the language lab my second year. Since I did not have another job while being enrolled in the program, this allowed me to pay for my degree, and it also created opportunities for teaching after graduation.