Best BA programs in translation that include CAT tool training - suggestions needed
Thread poster: Mariam Abdullah
Apr 15, 2013


I'm looking for bachelor degree programs in Translation that teach CAT or that has technology related courses that cover CAT tools. I’m comparing courses and trying to see what is best. A course that also discusses Machine translation is preferable. I don’t have criteria for what I consider best so if you present one course as “best” or even good please specify your reasons for choosing it. Thank you for your help.



Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:56
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
My opinion Apr 16, 2013

Mariam Abdullah wrote:
I'm looking for bachelor degree programs in Translation that teach CAT or that has technology related courses that cover CAT tools.

In my opinion, CAT tools are tools that make good translators better, but bad translators worse.

It may be good to let translation students know about what is available, but I don't think they should get any CAT training, because:

1. By the time the student gets out of college, the tools will have changed. Unless his university has the latest tools available and certified trainers for those tools, the student will always get outdated information, unless he is taught general principles.

2. CAT tools make translators who can already translate, faster. Yes, CAT tools also make translations more consistent, but that consistency is on top of the consistency that a translator naturally achieves without the tool, and student translators don't have that skill yet. This may lead to a false sense of consistency and quality because the CAT tool says so.

There was a time when I lamented the lack of CAT training in translation studies, but that was before I saw the translations of new generation translators who did have it. There is an artificiality to such translations that you sometimes even can't put your finger on. These are translators who learnt how to paint a house through a letterbox.



Rolf Keller
Local time: 15:56
English to German
CAT ma ybe oh Apr 16, 2013

Samuel Murray wrote:

CAT tools are tools that make good translators better, but bad translators worse.


CAT tools also make translations more consistent

Sometimes. But what about the TMs you get from clients or – even worse – from agencies? Often such TMs include lots of inconsistencies because several people inserted entries for years.

Simplified example: "Create a directory" but "Enter a folder name".

If you receive such a TM plus an unstruction like "Please keep strictly to the TM", you could feel attempted thtrow your PC out of the window and change your profession.icon_frown.gif


Stuart Whittingham (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:56
German to English
+ ...
Principles of translation tools Apr 16, 2013

I agree with much of what Samuel says.

What I found extremely useful in my MA course, however, was an overview of the principles behind CAT tools, along with machine translation, pre- and post-editing, how certain companies have their own MT systems, when the various tools are particularly useful etc. This gives a good basis for decision-making when becoming a professional later on.

Another danger of giving CAT training is that it is highly unlikely that comprehensive training will be given in a wide range of tools, so students will inevitably be drawn to purchase the particular tool that was covered in the course, rather than considering other options. Having said that, a demonstration of a tool in action, showing the fundamentals of a TM, segmentation, termbases etc. would clearly be useful in understanding how these things work.

By far the most useful area that I covered, however, was internet research skills. A CAT tool only helps you translate if you have a decent TM (slight over-simplification, but you know what I mean), whereas an awareness of the different types of resources available online, as well as when and where they are most effective, will always stand a translator in good stead.



Stuart Whittingham (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:56
German to English
+ ...
Demand for CAT in degree courses Apr 16, 2013

I forgot to mention - the main criticism of everyone on my course was the lack of training in Trados, as this is apparently seen as crucial to anyone wanting to move into the profession.

As far as I know, however, I am the only person from the course now translating professionally - and I use a different CAT tool, so not sure what that tells us....


LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:56
Russian to English
+ ...
I haven't hear about any BA programs in translation -- translation is usually a graduate degree -- M Apr 16, 2013

There are courses that teach how to use CAT tools, but not degree university programs. Learning the principles of translation has not that much to do with CAT tools, not to say Machine Translation. I don't think any serious linguistic department would teach Machine Translation -- this is the IT people's pipe dream.


Daina Jauntirans  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:56
German to English
+ ...
U of C, MIIS Apr 16, 2013

I believe University of Chicago's translation certificate includes a CAT course, and MIIS offers CAT training, but that's a master's degree. Also, I see that you are in Saudi Arabia, so it's likely that neither of those are suitable. Why not pursue a translation degree from a high-quality program appropriate to your language pairs and then fill in the CAT gaps with webinars on CAT in general or particular tools?


Mariam Abdullah
Thank you all Apr 16, 2013

Thank you Samuel Murray, Rolf Keller, and Stuart Whittingham

You have stimulated me to think further about wither it is really useful to teach college students how to use CAT tools. I teach a CAT course and I was asked by the department to give suggestions to improve the course. As you have pointed out, whatever we teach them is going to be outdated when they graduate, or they might prefer to use another program so I agree on that we should keep the teaching to the main principles of CAT. I also think it is important that students have a background about MT. So I think that my students should learn about CAT and MT, but not necessarily be extensively trained to use them.


My BA was in Translation, but I agree that there aren’t that many BA programs in Translation. At least not as much as MAs. As for machine translation, I think that a BA in translation should have a course about MT, so as to give students some sort of a background about MT and CAT. I took a course about Machine Translation but no CAT training. So it was all theoretical. However, in the university where I work now, students take one course where they learn about MT (theoretical) and learn something about CAT tools and are fairly trained to use one tool as an example.

Daina Jauntirans

I thank you for your suggestions. I know about MIIS. It seems to me as one of the best programs that teach CAT, but I’m going to have to check out the University of Chicago's program.

Thank you all for your replies.


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:

You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

Best BA programs in translation that include CAT tool training - suggestions needed

Advanced search

BaccS – Business Accounting Software
Modern desktop project management for freelance translators

BaccS makes it easy for translators to manage their projects, schedule tasks, create invoices, and view highly customizable reports. User-friendly, integration, community-driven development – a few reasons BaccS is trusted by translators!

More info »
Wordfast Pro
Translation Memory Software for Any Platform

Exclusive discount for users! Save over 13% when purchasing Wordfast Pro through Wordfast is the world's #1 provider of platform-independent Translation Memory software. Consistently ranked the most user-friendly and highest value

More info »

  • All of
  • Term search
  • Jobs
  • Forums
  • Multiple search