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Thread poster: Mark Thompson
Dip Trans qualification from Chartered Institute of Linguists

Mark Thompson  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 18:30
Member
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Jun 30, 2009

Hello to all!

After 5 years translating various content topics in Portuguese > English, I'm currently researching the possibility of preparing for and sitting the U.K. IOL Diploma in Translation, if possible here in Brazil.

I've researched the IOL website of course, but has anyone out there sat this exam or is anyone preparing for it? I'd appreciate reading about any first hand experience of the exams, preparation etc.

Many thanks


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Peter Shortall  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:30
Member
French to English
+ ...
My experience Jun 30, 2009

Hi Mark,

First, I'd say that the fact that you already have five years' experience under your belt should stand you in good stead. Many people take the DipTrans when they are just starting out, and see it as a gateway to the profession; and while it can be, of course, I think it's preferable (though admittedly not always easy) to gain some professional experience before sitting the exam, if possible.

I sat the DipTrans twice - once before I started freelancing (French-English), and then a second time last year in another language pair (Russian-English), by which time I had also gained about 3-4 years' experience, so I had a good idea of what to expect.

On both occasions I sat all three papers on the same day, which is a pretty intense experience if you're not used to translating for seven hours in one day! When I did it the first time, I didn't have a lot of time to spare at the end to read through what I'd written, but when I sat the DipTrans last year I had plenty of time at the end, since by that time my speed had increased with experience. I also chose to word-process my translations the second time around, as my centre offered that option. If you decide to use IT facilities when sitting the exam, do check your work extra-carefully as it's easy to overlook errors that a spellchecker won't catch (I found one with only minutes to go before I had to hand in my work!)

Since you've already been translating for a few years, you'll probably already have an idea of which semi-specialised options you'd like to take. Read high-quality publications in both your source and target languages, especially in the relevant subject areas; you may wish to compile a glossary, which you'll be able to take into the exam with you. I'd advise you to pay particular attention to abbreviations/acronyms, since dictionaries are often of little help with those. A couple of examples: in the Russian General paper last year I came across the Russian abbreviation for the World Health Organisation (ВОЗ), which I had seen before, and an abbreviation for a public opinion polling organisation which I wasn't familiar with. Luckily I still passed without knowing that one; in any case, hopefully that will give you an idea of the kind of thing that can crop up.

I'd also advise you to check with the IOL as to which variety of Portuguese you'd have to translate. On another forum I remember seeing a posting from a woman who had expected one form of Portuguese only to be confronted with another variety in the exam itself (I can't remember whether she had wanted Brazilian or European Portuguese). I don't know whether the exam can be taken in Brazil; I know someone who sat it in Germany.

Also, have a read through the examiners' reports on the IOL's website, if you haven't done so already. They will give you a good idea of what the examiners look for.

Good luck!

[Edited at 2009-07-01 10:13 GMT]


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chica nueva
Local time: 09:30
Chinese to English
Quite a general thread IMO ... Jun 30, 2009


Mark Thompson wrote:

... has anyone out there sat this exam or is anyone preparing for it? I'd appreciate reading about any first hand experience of the exams, preparation etc.

Many thanks


Hello Mark

Yes ... some of the peers discussing the latest exam (time taken to get the results) here: http://www.proz.com/forum/professional_development/133249-iol_diptrans_results.html .

If you use 'forum search' I think there might be more discussion on the site. IMO your topic heading is quite general. http://www.proz.com/siterules/forum/2#2 ... If you (or anyone?) finds other relevant links on the site ... just add them on here ... Who knows, you might be receiving many messages on this topic for a very long time ...

Lesley


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Karen Stokes  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:30
Member (2003)
French to English
Preparation and stamina! Jul 1, 2009

Hi Mark,

I did my Dip Trans in 2001, before I started translating professionally. One of the most useful things I did to prepare was just one module of a distance learning course run by Cardiff University - basically you worked through a series of past papers and got really excellent, detailed feedback from a tutor, so it gave you a very clear idea of the standard. (It only covered the general paper, though, not the semi-specialised options). At the time they only offered the course in French to English but it might be worth asking around to see if you can find something similar.

Other than that, my main memory of the big day was just that it was a sheer test of stamina - 7 hours of working under exam conditions after lugging my dictionaries to the exam centre was much worse than taking finals!

One last point about semi-specialised options: however much you prepare, you can't predict what the paper will be like on the day. I had planned to do the social sciences option but when I looked at the text I decided it was so ghastly I chose one of the others instead. It's worth thinking through that scenario and how you might deal with it, anyway.

All the best,

Karen


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Tomás Cano Binder, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:30
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Can you choose on the fly? Jul 1, 2009


Karen Stokes wrote:
One last point about semi-specialised options: however much you prepare, you can't predict what the paper will be like on the day. I had planned to do the social sciences option but when I looked at the text I decided it was so ghastly I chose one of the others instead. It's worth thinking through that scenario and how you might deal with it, anyway.


As I am preparing for my first DipTrans in January, let me ask you this: when you get to the semi-specialised options, did you get all the texts and can choose one of them after checking them all, or did you have to choose the topic before you had a chance to see the text?


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Ioanna Orfanoudaki  Identity Verified
Belgium
Local time: 23:30
Member (2007)
French to Greek
+ ...
British Council Jul 1, 2009

Hello Mark,

I, too, took this exam after several years of experience, and I think it helped an awful lot, though if I had had the time (and cash), I probably would've gone for one of the various preparatory courses available, just to give me some confidence about the exam standard beforehand.
In terms of the possibility of sitting the exam abroad, I was in Brussels at the time and the British Council was the one handling the examinations for CIOL. In fact, the British Council, in Brussels and around the world, is often responsible for the organisation of exams for various British institutions (among others for Cambridge ESOLs), so you may want to check out the British Council website in your area or even contact them directly to check that possibility out.

HTH
Ioanna


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Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 22:30
Dutch to English
+ ...
All the texts Jul 1, 2009


Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:

As I am preparing for my first DipTrans in January, let me ask you this: when you get to the semi-specialised options, did you get all the texts and can choose one of them after checking them all, or did you have to choose the topic before you had a chance to see the text?


You can choose on the day. You are given all of them and have enough time to read through each quickly to decide.

Good luck with the preparation!
Debs


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Tomás Cano Binder, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:30
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Wow! Jul 1, 2009


Lawyer-Linguist wrote:
As I am preparing for my first DipTrans in January, let me ask you this: when you get to the semi-specialised options, did you get all the texts and can choose one of them after checking them all, or did you have to choose the topic before you had a chance to see the text?

You can choose on the day. You are given all of them and have enough time to read through each quickly to decide.[/quote]

Wow! That is a rare luxury indeed and it surely helps a lot. Although it will work in my favour, I don't quite agree that it is so: customers can send you all sorts of stuff and it's not always up to you to decide...

After the experience of the ATA certification and 14 years as a full-time (in the literal sense of the word) freelancer, I am not concerned about the translation itself, although I will work in that aspect in the preparation of course by doing similar tricky texts and have them reviewed by a colleague with far more know-how and an eagle eye. What I fear is messing up with the mechanics of the exam itself!


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Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 22:30
Dutch to English
+ ...
Just as a matter of interest ... Jul 1, 2009


Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:

I don't quite agree that it is so: customers can send you all sorts of stuff and it's not always up to you to decide...



Why not? Aren't you free to --- and, in fact, shouldn't you -- turn down anything that's not up your alley?


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Charlie Bavington  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:30
French to English
True and yet... Jul 1, 2009


Lawyer-Linguist wrote:


Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:

I don't quite agree that it is so: customers can send you all sorts of stuff and it's not always up to you to decide...



Why not? Aren't you free to --- and, in fact, shouldn't you -- turn down anything that's not up your alley?


In the exam you don't get the choice to do none of them
I was looking back at my file the other day for the purposes of another thread elsewhere, and looked at the papers I did (and passed, fwiw). One of the texts I translated is one I would definitely decline now - as was the other option for that paper.

I guess those who are doing the exam after a while working as a translator may need to be prepared to step outside their comfort zone.


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Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 22:30
Dutch to English
+ ...
LOL Jul 1, 2009


Charlie Bavington wrote:

In the exam you don't get the choice to do none of them



Nice one, I walked straight into that! .....


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Tomás Cano Binder, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:30
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
I would love to.... Jul 1, 2009


Lawyer-Linguist wrote:

Charlie Bavington wrote:
In the exam you don't get the choice to do none of them

Nice one, I walked straight into that! .....

I would love to continue this line of conversation, but unfortunately I must translate something I could not say no to!


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Mark Thompson  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 18:30
Member
Portuguese to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks so far Jul 1, 2009

Thank you all for your input. Yes, I deliberately left the question quite open and general to get a variety of responses. Am awaiting a reply from British Council in Brazil about taking the exam here, and also looking at the possibility of a version Brazilian Portuguese>English.
While I'm waiting, would love to hear more "war stories", so please don't be shy!


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Tomás Cano Binder, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:30
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
British Council Jul 1, 2009


Mark Thompson wrote:
Thank you all for your input. Yes, I deliberately left the question quite open and general to get a variety of responses. Am awaiting a reply from British Council in Brazil about taking the exam here, and also looking at the possibility of a version Brazilian Portuguese>English.
While I'm waiting, would love to hear more "war stories", so please don't be shy!

Please do not call war in these fora Mark! Or you really risk having it! We just enjoy slapping each other around with a big trout! (Neither swords nor swordfish are allowed.)

Now, about the British Council, I have registered for my exam at the British Council in Madrid. It will mean a pile of money in fees for the person sitting there just checking that I am who I claim to be and that I don't use electronic means... but I prefer to take the exam with a computer and a printer, as they are my usual translation tools and it will give me a big time advantage.

While you are at it, I think you have to ask the B.C.'s centre in Brazil for their examination centre number, which is required for IOL's entry card as it seems. "Without the number, entry cards are not accepted." Sounds strict to me!


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Michele Johnson  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 23:30
German to English
+ ...
You got to choose?! Jul 1, 2009


Lawyer-Linguist wrote:
You can choose on the day. You are given all of them and have enough time to read through each quickly to decide.


You lucky dog - are you serious?! I had to specify in advance and definitely didn't have a choice, although it worked out fine in the end. Maybe this has been introduced more recently - may I ask when you took the exam? I did mine in 2001. (And of course I had to walk uphill both ways in snow to get there. Barefoot.)

Michele


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