Let’s be honest, after completing a four-year undergraduate language degree (and spending the previous 15ish years in education), the last thing you probably want to do is go back into education.
That’s how I felt at least. I had just graduated from the University of Nottingham with a degree in German with Dutch and decided I wanted to be a translator. I started to look for jobs in translation, but it seemed as though they all required an MA, so I did some research into Translation MA courses.
After an overview of the initial results in part 1, in parts 2 and 3 we focused on comments made about the main survey questions.
Specifically in part 2 we examined whether the respondents were thinking of doing any of the four surveyed qualifications (MA/MSc, Diploma in Translation, ATA certification and ITI exam) and which of these four they thought was better.
In part 3 we looked at responses to three questions: Which of the four qualifications are more highly regarded by translators (1), by agencies (2) and by direct clients (3).
This fourth and final part of the results includes some general comments made at the end of the survey and also some insights given under the specific questions that I didn’t manage to fit into the previous three parts of the results as they are more wide-ranging.
This article by Gwenydd Jones looks at the pros and cons of doing an MA in Translation Studies. It’ll help you think ahead and figure out whether doing an MA is the right choice for you.
With the cost of university study continually rising, you’re probably asking yourself whether doing an MA in translation studies is worth the investment. The answer will depend on your own circumstances and goals, as this article will explain. By the end, you should have a better idea of whether or not doing an MA in translation studies is worth it for you.
You’ve probably found your way to this article by googling to find the pros and cons of doing an MA in translation studies compared to the other options available for training and qualifying as a translator.
This is the third and penultimate part of the results of the translation qualifications survey, which focused on the DipTrans, MA/MSc, MITI exam and ATA certification.
In Part 1, we looked at the graphs and pie charts resulting from the survey. However, as I decided to reopen the survey to gain more responses, you’ll find all the definitive graphs and pie charts in Part 2 and in this post.
In Part 2, we examined the results of the first survey questions in more detail as well as some of the comments made to explain respondents’ choices.
In this Part 3, we’ll look at the comments for the last three questions: Which of the four qualifications surveyed are more highly regarded by translators (1), by agencies (2) and by direct clients (3).
Back in February last year, I asked you all to answer some questions about translation qualifications in a survey. I kept extending the deadline because I was hoping for more responses. And then when I should have being doing a write-up of the results, Brexit and the UK general election, family issues and the ever-present threat of the climate emergency filled my head and my spare time leaving me with no energy or enthusiasm for the blog.
Now that we’re in the midst of a global pandemic, my work has all but come to a halt so at least I can finally get around to thanking everyone who took part in the survey and giving you the results.
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”.
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!
The course is delivered solely online. Each module has its own website and all of the teaching materials are on the website and easily accessible. There is a forum, dedicated to each study block and language combination, but you can access all forum posts, so you’re not confined to just your language combination. Tutors are available via the forum and email and don’t worry – the forums are checked regularly. All assignments are submitted and returned electronically through the OU’s TMA online service. It’s very easy to use, click the submit button, attach your assignment, check the boxes to agree that you haven’t copied someone else’s work and then it will submit, and you can also download a copy of what you’ve submitted. You also receive a confirmation email.
During L801, we learned more about the theory of translation, from the beginnings where it was linguistics based, all the way through to the cultural turn in the 1990s and 2000s. Then we looked at how technology has come into the profession and the different types of CAT Tools. Three assignments throughout the module and one final assignment (EMA – End of Module Assignment) followed.
The next module (L802) started in October 2017 and finished in May 2018. This was my favourite as we had the opportunity to practise translations. The website for L802 functioned the same way as L801. We could put the theory into practice. We translated many specialisations, e.g. subtitling, finance, legal, tourism, news, literature, humour, marketing, technical and medical. Again, we had 3 assignments throughout the course and one final assignment. To pass the module you need to get over 40% in both the overall score on the 3 assignments and above 40% on the EMA.
In June 2018 to January 2019, we completed our dissertations (L803). This module was slightly different, we had to choose a source text of our choice and then had to choose what we wanted to analyse and research. There are two options: complete a translation with a commentary or conduct translation research. I chose the extended translation with commentary. The first two assignments are plans for the dissertation, which the tutor marks, and they tally up to 30% of the module. The dissertation itself is worth 70% of the module. I chose an excerpt from an autobiography of a former German footballer and analysed the translation of football terminology and player/manager discourse – I won’t bore you any further!
Hearing from the other students about their projects has really shown how far we’d all come and how much we’d all learned from the course. The way the course was structured meant that by understanding the theory behind translation we could then apply it and see it used in practice during L802 and in our dissertations in L803.
I think that this MA has been particularly useful as I haven’t just learned about translation itself but also about the wider scope of things, e.g. what to expect as a freelancer and what potential clients and employers will expect from us. Studying with a distance-learning provider has also proved that with dedication and motivation, you can achieve anything as this course is mainly self-taught. You have the module team and tutors for guidance, but you go through the module materials by yourself at your own pace. Added to this, you can fit this course around your life. On our course we’ve had people who work full time, some work part time with families and children. One of our students attended a webinar with her child asleep on her lap! You can take what you want from the course and adapt it to your requirements. The main piece of advice is, use the forum and ask any questions you may have. Even though you’re studying alone and may feel like no one else is in the same boat, trust me they are. We have our own Facebook group and we’ve all bonded on the forum, I feel like I really know some of the people on the course and we haven’t met. However, we are trying to arrange a gathering. This MA is great value for money and I don’t regret a single penny of it!
What’s more MAs in Translation are important as institutions like ITI and CIOL do like their members to be qualified in translation or interpreting. The Open University is a member of ITI so becoming a student member is straightforward and being a student member of CIOL is free. Lastly, having an MA in Translation can help you stand out from the ‘supposed’ translators who aren’t qualified. It proves to employees, institutions and clients that you are dedicated and understand your profession.
The Open University’s recent advert had the tagline, ‘Life-changing learning.’ This MA has certainly been life-changing for me, as I can now enter my dream profession with a qualification.
This blog post was written by Luke Hubbard, a translator and copywriter based in Surrey, UK. He translates marketing and football texts from both German and Spanish into English, combining both interests and hobbies with his work. He recently finished his MA in Translation with the Open University and holds a Level 4 Diploma in Copywriting. He’s also an affiliate member of the Institute of Translation and Interpreting and full member of ProCopywriters. You can find out more about his services on his LinkedIn and ProZ.com profiles.
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.
Today’s MA course review has been written by my fellow ITI Wessex member Sue Fortescue. For more information on MA courses and links to other reviews, see the European MA and the non-European MA pages on this blog.
Please get in touch if you completed your MA recently and would like to take part in this series. You’ll find more information about writing for this blog here.
If you would like to help with me this MA review project, please read this post.
I came to translation quite late in life, and was 67 when I started the MA. I spent the first part of my career as an English Language teacher (in Italy, Nepal and the UK) and the second part as an IT Manager (in Belgium and the US). My first degree was in Italian & French, and I also have an MA in Linguistics & English Language Teaching (from the University of Leeds) and an MSc in Knowledge-Based Systems from Heriot-Watt University.