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I want formal training in my craft: Translation program WITH specialization?
Thread poster: Maria Riva

Maria Riva  Identity Verified
Canada
Spanish to English
+ ...
Dec 8, 2015

Hello everyone,
I know it has been the subject of a lot of discussion whether to do schooling in the field of translation or in the field in which we will be specializing.

My degree is in foreign languages, and I want to learn more about the process of translation and the different stylistics of my source and target languages. Essentially I want formal training in my craft: translation and writing. On the other hand, I also struggle because I don’t have a deep understanding of any one technical subject; Jack of all trades…and well you know how the rest goes.
I was hoping to ask if anyone knows of a program that offers a good mix of the two things: teaching translation and a specialized field. Is this realistic, or am I just asking for too much?

I definitely need an online program, priced reasonably (which is why I prefer diplomas or certificates), and since I have always had a love for legalese, I want to head down that path. So far I have enrolled in some free university law classes on coursera.com , and even taken some webinars on ProZ. What other formal legal training could you suggest?

I have to add that when my friends and family ask me what it is like to be part of a translator community, I cannot always describe how unbelievably generous and helpful almost all of you are. In a profession most times so withdrawn from human contact, you are undeniably warm-hearted and sincere. You were a big reason for my knowing this field was right for me.


Kudos to all of you, my translator colleagues!

[Subject edited by staff or moderator 2015-12-08 20:07 GMT]


 

Soonthon LUPKITARO(Ph.D.)  Identity Verified
Thailand
Local time: 02:07
Member (2004)
English to Thai
+ ...
Similar situation Dec 9, 2015

Maria Riva wrote:

Hello everyone,
I know it has been the subject of a lot of discussion whether to do schooling in the field of translation or in the field in which we will be specializing.

My degree is in foreign languages, and I want to learn more about the process of translation and the different stylistics of my source and target languages. Essentially I want formal training in my craft: translation and writing. On the other hand, I also struggle because I don’t have a deep understanding of any one technical subject; Jack of all trades…and well you know how the rest goes.
I was hoping to ask if anyone knows of a program that offers a good mix of the two things: teaching translation and a specialized field. Is this realistic, or am I just asking for too much?



In Thailand, we are serious about new translators without substantial training. I also seek the idea to manage and maintain quality of translation target language of Thai: we cannot standardize control of translation quality among many translators right now.

Soonthon L.


 

Elizabeth Tamblin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:07
Member (2012)
French to English
Hi! Dec 9, 2015

Maria Riva wrote:

Hello everyone,
I know it has been the subject of a lot of discussion whether to do schooling in the field of translation or in the field in which we will be specializing.

My degree is in foreign languages, and I want to learn more about the process of translation and the different stylistics of my source and target languages. Essentially I want formal training in my craft: translation and writing. On the other hand, I also struggle because I don’t have a deep understanding of any one technical subject; Jack of all trades…and well you know how the rest goes.
I was hoping to ask if anyone knows of a program that offers a good mix of the two things: teaching translation and a specialized field. Is this realistic, or am I just asking for too much?

I definitely need an online program, priced reasonably (which is why I prefer diplomas or certificates), and since I have always had a love for legalese, I want to head down that path. So far I have enrolled in some free university law classes on coursera.com , and even taken some webinars on ProZ. What other formal legal training could you suggest?

I have to add that when my friends and family ask me what it is like to be part of a translator community, I cannot always describe how unbelievably generous and helpful almost all of you are. In a profession most times so withdrawn from human contact, you are undeniably warm-hearted and sincere. You were a big reason for my knowing this field was right for me.


Kudos to all of you, my translator colleagues!

[Subject edited by staff or moderator 2015-12-08 20:07 GMT]


Hello Maria, and welcome to ProZ.com!

The only thing I can really suggest is to look at the online prospectuses for the universities and colleges that offer courses in translation. You will be able to find out which ones have the combination of modules you require.

In my case, I did a distance learning course at the University of Bristol (UK), which had modules in translation theory, the translation industry, CAT tools, general translation and semi-specialised translation. The general translation units taught us to formulate a suitable translation strategy based on an analysis of the source text. The semi-specialised units taught us how to research a subject area, e.g. law or business, with a view to developing a specialism. The distance learning environment means that you can fit the work around your other commitments instead of having to be in a lecture room at a set time.

I'm sure there are courses out there that will be suitable for you - you just have to do a bit of research. Good luck!


 

Richard Foulkes (X)  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:07
German to English
+ ...
My advice... Dec 9, 2015

Don't do a master's in translation, do one in the subject that interests you. That way, you'll have other career options and you'll have a sound understanding of your area of specialisation. This will give you a marketing edge over translators with no non-language qualifications, particularly when it comes to sourcing direct clients and niche agencies.

Perhaps there will be a master's available to you that combines languages and your area of interest (e.g. international law). Again, infinitely more useful than a translation degree IMO. I did a master's in translation after my first degree. Years later when I was looking at degrees in real estate for a career change, I came across a master's in European real estate at my old university and really wished I'd done it six years earlier!

If you do a master's in translation, you're probably going to get a book list and a handful of lectures for a few thousand dollars. If you're that interested in the mechanics of translation, just get the books and save yourself the bucks...


 

Domenico Trimboli  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 21:07
Member (2013)
English to Italian
Totally agree Dec 9, 2015

Richard Foulkes wrote:

Don't do a master's in translation, do one in the subject that interests you. That way, you'll have other career options and you'll have a sound understanding of your area of specialisation. This will give you a marketing edge over translators with no non-language qualifications, particularly when it comes to sourcing direct clients and niche agencies.

Perhaps there will be a master's available to you that combines languages and your area of interest (e.g. international law). Again, infinitely more useful than a translation degree IMO. I did a master's in translation after my first degree. Years later when I was looking at degrees in real estate for a career change, I came across a master's in European real estate at my old university and really wished I'd done it six years earlier!

If you do a master's in translation, you're probably going to get a book list and a handful of lectures for a few thousand dollars. If you're that interested in the mechanics of translation, just get the books and save yourself the bucks...


I totally agree with Richard.


 

Elizabeth Tamblin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:07
Member (2012)
French to English
Re: posters suggesting an MA in translation is a waste of time Dec 9, 2015

I don't agree that an MA in translation amounts to just a booklist and a handful of lectures. The one I did was a hell of a lot more than that.

No wonder people complain about translators not getting professional respect, if translators themselves consider an MA in their subject to be pointless.

Besides, couldn't the same be said of any other MA subject? What do they offer besides a booklist and a handful of lectures? You could argue that you could just get some books and save yourself the money on any subject.


 

Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
To MA or not to MA Dec 9, 2015

Elizabeth Tamblin wrote:

I don't agree that an MA in translation amounts to just a booklist and a handful of lectures. The one I did was a hell of a lot more than that.

No wonder people complain about translators not getting professional respect, if translators themselves consider an MA in their subject to be pointless.

Besides, couldn't the same be said of any other MA subject? What do they offer besides a booklist and a handful of lectures? You could argue that you could just get some books and save yourself the money on any subject.


The MA course I did (Surrey) was as Richard described, plus practical translation classes which were valuable but could easily be replaced by doing a series of short translations and getting feedback from an experienced translator. I don't know how much students pay for MA courses these days but I bet I could teach them more in a shorter space of time for a whole lot less... Certainly the rest of the MA course was an utter waste of time.

Doing a Master's in a relevant subject might be a better bet, but you'd have to pick carefully. Thing is, even the most vocational Master's programme has to include academic (in both senses) study as well as practical exercises, and if you've already done a first degree then you should already have done that whole brain-building thing and won't need to do it again.

The right person can probably learn most from self-study, with a little guidance from a suitable mentor.


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 20:07
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Good idea Dec 9, 2015

Elizabeth Tamblin wrote:
You could argue that you could just get some books and save yourself the money on any subject.

Except that nowadays, as long as you're careful about your choice of reading materials on the web, you don't really have to buy books. Nor do you have to buy training courses as there are some really good MOOCs out there (again, you have to be choosy).

Isn't there a whole raft of education in law in the two official languages of Canada? That would mean you could study the system and the terminology in two of your languages, from which point you could research the equivalent terms in Spanish yourself. Combine that with a study of international law (in any of your languages) and you should get a pretty useful basis for your specialisation, I'd have thought. As for translation techniques, there are distance courses that will provide them without taking vast amounts of time or money. I can't speak too highly of the one in my own profile.

The question is whether you want the training for your own purposes, or for your client. Any training of any sort, providing it works for you, will help give you confidence and will help you provide better translations faster. But if you want to impress clients with pieces of paper then you'd be better off doing a "proper" course. But my experience has always been that clients are more interested in their needs than your qualifications, and all you have to do is convince them you can satisfy their needs.


 

Elizabeth Tamblin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:07
Member (2012)
French to English
. Dec 9, 2015

I'm waiting for someone to suggest doing away with formal education entirely and replacing it with autodidacticism.

 

Domenico Trimboli  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 21:07
Member (2013)
English to Italian
. Dec 9, 2015

Elizabeth Tamblin wrote:

I don't agree that an MA in translation amounts to just a booklist and a handful of lectures. The one I did was a hell of a lot more than that.


Lucky you. Unfortunately, that was not the case for many other translators.


No wonder people complain about translators not getting professional respect, if translators themselves consider an MA in their subject to be pointless.


As a matter of fact, I consider most MAs in translation a huge waste of time and money. One would probably learn much more in a mentor-mentee relation of 3 months than in the 1/2 years it takes to complete an MA, and at a much lower cost.
I can't see how this would degrade our profession.


Besides, couldn't the same be said of any other MA subject? What do they offer besides a booklist and a handful of lectures? You could argue that you could just get some books and save yourself the money on any subject.


They offer help in gaining further knowledge about a certain subject. Sure one may be fine without the MA, but it'd take much longer to learn. I believe what one needs after a BA in translation is not further knowledge, but practice.


 

Elif Baykara Narbay  Identity Verified
Turkey
Local time: 22:07
German to Turkish
+ ...
I came across this article on Proz Dec 9, 2015

in case you didn't see it:

http://www.proz.com/translation-articles/articles/3931/1/An-MA-in-Translation-Studies:-To-have-or-not-to-have?


 

Elizabeth Tamblin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:07
Member (2012)
French to English
. Dec 9, 2015

Domenico Trimboli wrote:


As a matter of fact, I consider most MAs in translation a huge waste of time and money.


I find it quite offensive that someone would belittle another person's education in this way, especially on a professional translators' message board.


 

Richard Foulkes (X)  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:07
German to English
+ ...
Any examples? Dec 9, 2015

Elizabeth Tamblin wrote:

I don't agree that an MA in translation amounts to just a booklist and a handful of lectures. The one I did was a hell of a lot more than that.


I'm not going to sidetrack the OP's thread by getting into the wider debates here.

Perhaps you could help the OP and others facing a similar decision by listing some of the specific, indispensable things you learned on your MA and how you regularly use them in your translation work?


 

Domenico Trimboli  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 21:07
Member (2013)
English to Italian
Sorry about that Dec 9, 2015

Elizabeth Tamblin wrote:

Domenico Trimboli wrote:


As a matter of fact, I consider most MAs in translation a huge waste of time and money.


I find it quite offensive that someone would belittle another person's education in this way, especially on a professional translators' message board.


No offense meant - I (almost) have an MA in translation myself, and I believe I am entitled to have an opinion and free to talk about it. That said, I'm afraid we're going off topic.

[Edited at 2015-12-09 16:15 GMT]


 

Laura Messer  Identity Verified
Canada
Member (2014)
Spanish to English
Glendon College Dec 9, 2015

I just started the Certificate in Spanish-English Translation at the Glendon College campus of York University this fall. York offers a certificate program in Spanish-English or English-Spanish. It is not fully online but some of the courses are online. The on-campus classes are mostly offered at night. I was able to get credit toward some of the other required courses that are offered during the day from my previous studies. This might be a good option for you if you are in the Toronto area.

 
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