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MA in Translation by distance course - what is your experience?
Thread poster: Sonja Tomaskovic
Sonja Tomaskovic  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 19:10
English to German
+ ...
Oct 8, 2004

Hello,

I was wondering if anyone out there is/has been enrolled in a distance program to obtain an MA in Translation.

If so, at which university do you/did you study and what is/was your experience with this particular program (in terms of support, quality of learning material, course structure, time management, etc.)?


Thanks for your feedback.

Sonja


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Almir Comor MITI  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 19:10
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English to Croatian
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MA distance mode Oct 11, 2004

Hi Sonja!

It seems that no one has taken a distance course in translation.

I have been doing some reserach on UK universities for some time now and have discovered two MA's in Translation Studies in distance mode. There is one offered by Imperial College, London (a top university), MSc in Scientific, Technical and Medical Translation with Translation Technology. The other one is offered by the University of Birmingham.

The department addresses are:
http://www.hu.ic.ac.uk/translation/wlcm.html
http://www.cels.bham.ac.uk/prospectus/ODL/odltransinfo.htm


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Sonja Tomaskovic  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 19:10
English to German
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TOPIC STARTER
Not in distance mode, so far. Oct 12, 2004


There is one offered by Imperial College, London (a top university), MSc in Scientific, Technical and Medical Translation with Translation Technology.


Well, according to their webpage, the distance program is not available yet.

It seems that so far, only Birmingham is offering a distance MA course in translation.


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
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Spanish to English
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There are undergraduate courses Oct 12, 2004

and, of course, the IoL.

The problem began when you said "MA". It's hard enough to get a conventional presence course past any university's curriculum committee. Not unless (as with Translation Studies), the course can be given a heavy base in research or in terms of independent study. Otherwise, the distance mode can compromise results to an extent that no one seems to be in a position of solving.

Perhaps one way around this would be to look for continued training programs.


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Almir Comor MITI  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 19:10
Member (2004)
English to Croatian
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Another distance course in UK Oct 24, 2004

Hi Sonja,

I just came accross another distance court in translation studies in a UK university:


http://info.uwe.ac.uk/courses/viewCourse.asp?URN=11474&stream


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Sonja Tomaskovic  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 19:10
English to German
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TOPIC STARTER
Thanks. Oct 24, 2004

I came across that one myself some time ago.

Yet, no one seems to have taken any of these courses. Which makes me wonder why.

Any thoughts on this?

Kindly,

Sonja


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Almir Comor MITI  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 19:10
Member (2004)
English to Croatian
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MA Transl Oct 25, 2004

Funny you should mention that

A couple of days ago, my former literature professor and I were discussing Translation Studies MAs and he told me that a guy originally from Bosnia who has lived in Canada since he was five enrolled this distance mode MA in Birmingham this year. He seemed to know this guy personally as he knew the reasons why he chose distance mode (small child, work, etc).

I understand that Birmingham's Translation Studies dept has a tradition because quite a few people who are now teaching in other Universities were doing their doctoral research in Birmingham (COBUILD) some 15 years ago.

Checking Community/Translator's Organizations on Proz.com, I noticed that there are no Prozians who graduated from some other universities whose Translation Studies depts are well-known (Manchester, Warwick, Bradford). The only thing I can think of is that their students come from very different backgrounds due to the fact that they don't require specific language combinations (i.e. more students from other parts of the world than Europe and the US).

HTH

[Edited at 2004-10-25 19:45]


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N.M. Eklund  Identity Verified
France
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Member (2005)
French to English
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Suspicious of school credibility, MA a necessary evil? Oct 28, 2004

Well...not quite evil...

First let me thank you all so far for supplying this list of schools. I've been looking for a real distance program (ex. MA)for a long time, but I never know if these are not just some profit based 'schools'.

It's the strangest thing, ever since I became freelance, I'm suspicious of everyone and everything, but I trust what the other 'prozians' have to say.

Maybe it's just a knee-jerk reaction, but unless I can have assurances that these schools have some kind of established reputation I hesitate in applying, but we as translators are limited in choices.

Am I the only one not quite so willing to put a lot of money and effort in an MA that nobody may recognize? Or, for translation, does any kind of MA notation do the job (ie certify my level of commitment and training in translation)?
Our sector is still not very defined (no set rates, education, unions, etc) and evolves constantly, so I feel these are valid questions.

This subject is hazy for me, I have experience, but no 'official certification' such as a diploma or accredited tests. It is true that for the moment, I value an MA as only a way to assure prospective clients of my dedication. But in the future (20 years or so), I find it titilating to consider a translation/language studies phD and do research and teaching.

However, I firmly believe that the best way to become a good translator is to get in there and do it. Periodic 3-day seminars seem to be the best way to supplement what we can't learn easily through working. There are plenty of excellent seminars out there which are some of the best investments we can make for ouselves.

It just seems a pity that prospective clients very often 'require' some kind of certification before even considering your application, or letting you quote. I wonder if any of you feel the same way. But, in the end, if I had to get a more official certification, I'd prefer to be reassured by my peers as to its quality and reputation.

Thanks everyone!


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
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It's really very much up to you Oct 28, 2004

Although translation seems to have been around as far as commerce itself, we're still pretty much pioneers in the sense that formal training is very recent, modern-day recognition for the profession AFAIK dates from the last (20th) century (although note that there is sporadic evidence of feverish activity from time to time in history), and it tends to be a minority within the profession itself that reflects on translation and interpretation sufficiently in order to pursue it as an academic discipline.

The question is not, is it worth studying (because I'm sure we all agree it is), but rather, are you, as a practitioner, willing to study it; i.e., at what level of involvement you want to be in the field. In this sense, motivation is pretty much internal, and you will derive the best benefit out of further study if you see it this way. But if you look at the educational system as a machine for producing producers of [the discipline involved], then translation courses are not the only academic offers that would seem dismal failures.

How many guys studied law or accounting with a view to working stability and ended up practising something else? Considering the development of formal T&I training, I think it would be safe to say that a great deal of our members above 45 moved into translation from another field (few or no chances of studying it having existed during their university days). And yet, they would know about it. Some of them might even be in a position to write PhD dissertations on the matter.

I guess what I'm really trying to say is that further study should ideally be, first of all, self-fulfilment. If you're getting into it just because of what others (outsourcers?) will think of your credentials, it's bound to be discouraging. (For that matter, this will happen in any field).

[Edited at 2004-10-28 15:48]


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N.M. Eklund  Identity Verified
France
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Not quite so superficial... Oct 28, 2004

Parrot,
Thank you for your feedback. It's always difficult seeing the profession from both points of view. I think I am not the only one who battles with the love of the profession and the everyday logistics of surviving.

As I mentioned before, I am not against further education, higher studies being quite fulfilling in deepening and exploring our knowledge of an area that passions us. This is one of the reasons I like attending these professional seminars. I can very well see myself one day writing dissertations galore on particular facets of our profession and its process. But to arrive at this point, I don't think I would have taken some 'buy-a-diploma' type certification. I want to be certain that what I do and dedicate my time to (such as a degree) has value, firstly for me and secondly for others.

With today's marketplace, I feel pushed into getting this kind of certification as soon as possible just to continue surviving. Where normally I would wait and enroll at the right time in my life and at the right institution, it seems that the better thing to do is to find something as good as possible for my immediate needs. I'm sure I would get at least a minimum of self-fulfillment since I love translating and languages.

However, my purpose in writing before was to ensure more than a minimum of self-fulfillment by inquiring into the quality of these distance MA's and their subsequent reputation in the marketplace and other institutions (ie, If I wanted to continue later with a PhD, would the MA be considered valid in the eyes of another University).

Distance MA's are a dream come true for people like me, whose schedule can never be set due to all manner of different job types. I would like to believe that this relatively new possibility is not just some kind of fool's gold. And perhaps some proof (through others' testimonials) that enrolling now in a budding institution promises more than just a piece of paper.


[Edited at 2004-10-28 16:50]


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 19:10
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Opt for some kind of official programme Oct 28, 2004

If you have to go into distance learning, it makes sense to seek some kind of official sponsorship. Organisers will be less inclined to 'take you in' on taxpayers' money. Quite a few countries have decided to invest in the distance learning mode (note that under the condition of periodic face-to-face meetings, even when these may only be quarterly). Failing that, careful planners do exist in certain prestigious universities who have seriously studied how to optimise distance courses. (This may also depend on the course. Research-based programmes with a lot of independent study credits tend to have an advantage.)

Many things may also be learned from short "focus" seminars, as translator organisations can assure you.

PS: On distance learning, if it's of any help, I'm watching out for when the ETI's (Université de Genève) continuous training programme gets off the ground...

[Edited at 2004-10-28 16:59]


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xxxlaurin
English to German
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alternatives? Apr 8, 2005

Hi, like Sonja I have been thinking about taking part in a distance learning programme in order to attain a Masters in translation (just to please potential employers here in Germany...).

Therefore I checked out the possibilities mentioned here and enquired at other universities in the UK, Germany and Austria.

I found out that only the universities in Bristol (http://info.uwe.ac.uk/courses/viewCourse.asp?URN=11474&stre am) and Birmingham
(http://www.cels.bham.ac.uk/prospectus/ODL/odltransinfo.htm) seem to be offering a mode which allows you to study from abroad. (The one in London,
http://www.hu.ic.ac.uk/translation/wlcm.html requires you to attend classes at least one day/week). The programme in Birmingham is very expensive (approx. 10000 €) and is not related to any particular language, teaching mainly translation theory from what it seems. The other one in Bristol is less expensive (approx. 6000 €), but as a non-English native speaker you can only study one foreign language which is still not sufficient in some respects.

The distance course at ETI in Geneva, Parrot mentioned, is still non-existant.

Does anyone know of more alternatives?


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mckinnc  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:10
French to English
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Dip Trans route is often taken if distance learning only option Apr 19, 2005

One route often taken by people already in the workplace and therefore not able to take time out is to prepare for the Diploma in Translation from the Institute of Linguists. This is what I did through the distance learning programme with the University of Cardiff. I then sat the French-English exam (though they do meany other language combinations) at teh British Council offices in Bern.

To be honest with you, there is probbly no substitute for following a normal residential postgrad (MA) type programme if you want to really get the most out of it. I understand that excellent courses are available at Heriot Watt Uni in Edinburgh and Leeds Uni. Heriot Watt is one of the longest standing and most respected translation departments in the UK. Also, the demands of a proper full-time MA course would be such as to make it difficult to hold down a job at the same time.

In doing the Dip Trans course by distance learning I personally found that where I lost out was in the ability to have proper interaction with fellow students. Although we communicated by online forum and email it did not replace the kind of communication that goes on in a classroom. However, I chose this route because I could not afford to interrupt my working life (yet again) to work full-time on another qualification.


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