Choosing an online MA/translation course - Help!
Thread poster: Rodrigues72

Rodrigues72  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 12:59
French to English
+ ...
Apr 15, 2014

I'm brand new to the world of translation and to this site, so apologies if I've posted in the wrong place. I'm hoping that some of you who are more experienced might be kind enough to give a total newbie some adviceicon_smile.gif

In a nutshell, I'm trying to choose a course to get started as a translator. As I live in France and have two small children, my options are entirely limited to online courses. My experience to date briefly is this - 2.2 degree in French and Irish in 1994. Post-grad in Applied Communications (Broadcasting) 1996. 6 years working as a TV reporter in Irish and in English. 10 years working in PR (including a substantial amount of English to Irish translation). Living in France since 2009 - married to a French man and therefore living in an almost exclusively French-speaking environment. Experience in professional translation - nil!

I have been in touch with the Irish Translators' and Interpreters' Association and they pointed me in the direction of three online MAs - Bristol, Portsmouth and Birmingham. I have also been in touch with an IOL centre in Dublin (Words Language Services) who run their own course and/or the IOL Diploma course.

I have researched all four courses and now I'm a bit lost. The WLS course combined with the IOL course looks very practical and it's by far the cheapest of the four (not including examination fees for the IOL). Their course structure is very clear and gives a very good idea of what to expect. As for the MAs, apart from the fact that the fees range from €5440 (Portsmouth) to €17,000 (Bristol), I'm finding it very difficult to figure out which of them would be the most practical course. In my heart of hearts, I suppose that I would like the security of an MA, but having done a degree in French and Irish I'm only too well aware that a University qualification doesn't necessarily equip a person to work in the real world!

If anyone has any advice to give me I would be so grateful. Your thoughts on the courses mentioned would be particularly useful, but also any words of advice on the reality of working as a freelance translator, how easy it is to get work, the value of an MA as opposed to an IOL qualification etc.

Thanks in advanceicon_smile.gif


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:59
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
You've come to the right place for help Apr 15, 2014

Hello and welcome to ProZ.com!

I don't have an MA though I'm sure it's the best thing to have nowadays. I only have the WLS Certificate but I feel that it was adequate for someone with loads of life experience under their belt. I do find myself automatically excluded from some jobs, but you can tick the magic "degree" box.

Can we assume that with the two little ones you're aiming to ease you way back into professional life, not hoping for full-time work from day one? If so, it may be enough to get a basic qualification under your belt and then look for jobs best suited to your background. The course will give clients a little confidence in you but the main advantage would be the self-confidence it would give you. As you probably know, there are no minimum requirements and this is of course a double-edged sword. You need to be able to present a professional image to set yourself apart from those who aren't serious competitors.

You seem to have a perfect background for the job, assuming that you have good English writing skills. Just make sure you keep your English up to date in all areas, not just baby talkicon_smile.gif.


 

Rodrigues72  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 12:59
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Apr 15, 2014

Thanks for the quick reply Sheila. You did the WLS Dublin course? It looks very practical and as you say, it would certainly give me the confidence to get started. Did you also do the IOL course?

You say that you are excluded from some jobs because you don't have an MA - is there a particular type of job that automatically requires an MA?

Re the kiddies, yes, I'm hoping to work part-time from home, so I'm not under any illusion about getting 40 hours work a week right at the outset. I am thinking that maybe the WLS/IOL combined course might be the best thing to do to get started and then if I manage to make a living from translating, I could think about doing a Masters. I don't even know how much work is out there... I have read some posts that are pretty discouraging about it being a very hard business to break into.


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:59
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Every business is difficult to break into Apr 15, 2014

Freelancing at anything takes not only time to get established, you also have to stay focused and concentrate on providing quality. There's loads of work in your main pair, but there are loads of good and wannabe translators, too.

I only did the Cert. If I'd started younger, I'd have done the DipTrans but it's never been important to me. I don't think you should rush into doing that. It's meant for experienced translators and there's a very low pass rate - hence the value of getting it.

All EU jobs specify a degree as minimum - but that won't affect you as you have one. Otherwise, it's a bit like "must have Trados": occasionally there's a good reason but most times the client doesn't really know how to choose the right translator, and that means they probably aren't the right client for meicon_smile.gif.


 

Irene McClure
Local time: 12:59
Member (2008)
French to English
+ ...
Uni Portsmouth Apr 15, 2014

Hi Rodrigues72

Just a quick reply to say that you might want to consider doing part of the MA Portsmouth course - you don't need to complete the entire MA, you can graduate after a certain number of modules with a Post-Graduate Certificate (PG Cert.) or with a Post-Graduate Diploma (PG Dip.) in Translation Studies. You follow exactly the same modules as for the MA, just complete fewer of them. As well as the time commitment, this has the advantage of cutting the cost significantly.

I did the Post-Grad Cert by distance learning in 2012, having been in much the same situation as yourself, with other degrees under my belt but no translation degree as such.

I found the Portsmouth course really enjoyable, and although you have to take certain core modules on translation theory, you can make sure that the options you choose are more practically focussed (I took one on computer-aided translation tools, for example).

It took me around 18 months to complete the PG Cert while working almost full time at the same time - it's a fair bit of work (around 8-12 hours a week) but I certainly found it met my expectations in terms of giving me greater confidence in my translation abilities and giving me the all-important qualification to add to the list ...

Feel free to send me a private message if you'd like to know any moreicon_smile.gif

Good luck whatever you choose to do!

Irene


 

Helen Hagon  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:59
Member (2011)
Russian to English
+ ...
Portsmouth and IoL Apr 15, 2014

Hi,
I have done both the IoL preparation course from City University in London and the MA from Portsmouth (Irene, your name sounds familiar - we probably 'met' on discussion boards at some point!). I have two children and so distance learning was the best option for me, too. The IoL course was specifically designed to prepare you for the exam and involved translating lots of sample papers with regular feedback from the tutor. It must have been effective because I passed the exam in the end!

Afterwards, though, I felt the need to study translation in more depth and decided to go on to do the MA through Portsmouth University. It was certainly not an easy ride, and required some careful time management, but I enjoyed it very much and found it incredibly interesting. It took me nearly three years to complete the full MA but I am very glad I did it.

Which course you choose depends, I think, on what you are hoping to achieve from it. The IoL course was much more practical and designed to 'polish' your skills as a translator. Although there is a practical component within the MA, it also encourages you to look at the wider picture and consider the issues around the translation industry in the past, present and future. There is also an element of choice so you can opt for modules which suit your personal interests.

Good luck!

Helen


 

Rodrigues72  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 12:59
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Why the need to go on to do the MA? Apr 15, 2014

Hi Helen,

Thanks for your reply. Can you tell me a little more about why you felt the need to study translation in more depth? Your comment makes me wonder what you felt you didn't learn on the IoL course.

Regarding what I am hoping to achieve from my chosen course, as a newcomer to the business, I feel that I should learn the basics. In that context, the IoL course sounds more practical than an MA, at least to start with. Although I speak and read French fluently, I have no actual experience translating, so what I'm looking for (I think!) is a course that entails lots of supervised translation, coupled with information/training on using CAT tools and/or other relevant software and information on how to actually get work as a translator. My problem is that as an absolute beginner, I don't really know what I need to know!

I would opt for the Portsmouth MA in a heartbeat if I thought that I would get that kind of training, but I'm afraid that it might be more academic than practical...


 

Flora Iacoponi, MCIL  Identity Verified
Ireland
Local time: 11:59
English to Italian
+ ...
WLS Dublin course + DipTrans IOL Apr 16, 2014

That's what I did to get a translation qualification as I already had an MA in Italian. I found the WLS course practical and useful and it equipped me with the basic skills to sit and pass the DipTrans exam.
I did it in 2003. However, now I'm considering to go also for the MA from Portsmouth. In my case this is due to the fact that I'm working in a very competitive language pair where most translators come from a specific background in translation studies.
I also feel that I'd enjoy studying translation in more depth and, last but not least, that an MA in translation studies would give me the confidence to write about translation or to undertake literary translation projects (but that's a long term plan). I'm still debating whether to go for it or not as studying at academic level and working at the same time is no small endeavour.
As your previous professional experience and qualifications are all very valuable probably the IOL preparation course (WLS or London City University) and the IOL diploma would be sufficient to get you started as a translator in a relatively short time while the MA in translation studies is a much more long-term commitment.


[Edited at 2014-04-16 20:33 GMT]


 

Rodrigues72  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 12:59
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Decision made May 13, 2014

Hello all. Well I've finally managed to make a decision and I thought I would update here in case the information below is of use to any future ditherers like meicon_smile.gif So, I spoke yesterday to a very helpful lady in the Uni in Portsmouth and talking to her clinched the fact that I'm going to do the WLS combined IOL course. The reason is that once I have the IOL certificate, I can actually use it as 30 credits against the Portsmouth MA. What that means is that when I go on to do the MA, I still have to do all the modules in the first year, but in the second year I only do half the modules and I can do the dissertation at the same time. With a bit of luck, I would be able to do the MA in 2 years instead of 3 - bearing in mind that I will already have spent at least one year on the WLS combined course.

So that's it. Sending off the application tomorrow and starting the course asap.

Thank's everybody for your inputicon_smile.gif


 


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