FR-EN IoL DipTrans long distance preparation courses
Thread poster: Carolyn Brice

Carolyn Brice  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:48
French to English
+ ...
Jan 26, 2007

Hi all,

I know this topic has come up several times, but I would really like some feedback from people who have taken one of the following courses:

Susanne James Association
WLS (Ireland)
Cardiff University
Bracknell and Wokingham College

As concerns City University, I have already read lots of information in the forum, ranging from very positive to very negative feedback. Basically, I would like to know whether these courses are worth the money they charge, informaiton on the quality of tuition, and whether it helped them pass the DipTrans.

[Edited at 2007-01-26 13:43]

[Edited at 2007-01-26 13:43]


Charlotte Allen  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:48
French to English
WLS Combined Course Jan 27, 2007

I did the WLS Combined Course, getting the certificate first, then the preparation for the IoL diploma. The certificate was no walk in the park - my tutor was tough but fair, and gave really good suggestions for how to improve my translations - but I managed to pass it within a few months, at the same time as looking after three small children. The preparation for the diploma was also quite useful, although, maddeningly, my tutor would never tell me whether she thought my translations of past papers were of the standard the IoL was looking for. She just gave lots of feedback/suggested alternative translations where needed. I passed 2/3 papers the first time I sat, and got the third (the General paper - by far the hardest, IMO) the next year.

It's at least as important to do wider reading (the course itself recommends books on translation theory, which it's really important to read, absorb, put into practice, and later forget completely - if you know what I mean) as to read the WLS 'potted history of translation theory'. Knowing about translation theory gives you a solid understanding of some of the issues of translation, and acts as a sort of foundation underpinning your work when you actually get started professionally. Even though after you've been working for a while, practical experience more or less takes over, and you translate documents without really analysing them in accordance with the theories, you need that foundation, which I think still operates at an instinctive level, and kicks in when you face an issue or problem.

I would also say that contrary to what the IoL would like us to believe you don't NEED the diptrans to be able to work in translation. Experience is much more important, IMO. However, you DO need to understand translation and have a feel for language, so you can't dispense with the studying, even if you decide not to go in for the diploma (or at least not straight away). None of the agencies which regularly gave me work in the early days cared at all when I passed the diploma - they were judging me on the quality of my translations, not on a piece of paper. On the other hand, having the diptrans maybe affects whether new agencies (and particularly specialised ones which pay well) will approach you to offer work, as it indicates that you have reached a certain standard of quality in your translations.

Hope this is helpful. Charlotte.


Kitty Brooks
Portuguese to English
WLS Translation Course Excellent Feb 21, 2007

Hi Charlotte and Carolyn

I would just like to agree with Charlotte about the WLS course - excellent in my experience, though it was in a different language combination - Portuguese-English - and for the Certificate only. I did consider doing their IOL Diploma Course and their Combined Course - the one Charlotte took - doing the Cert. programme first and then the Diploma course. However, having examined the sample materials they make available, I could see the WLS Certificate course was much more geared to the type of work I was doing in my job (technical/legal). It also seemed to focus more on the "nuts and bolts" of translation than the Diploma course.

I was not disappointed. It was tough going initially - there was a lot of feedback from the tutor who I would also describe as tough but fair. She always explained her corrections ( a lot for the first few assignments!) in considerable detail - she never just substituted one word for another. By the end, my work had improved a lot and most importantly, I had gained the confidence to handle specialised texts - used a lot in the course. In addition, the coursework has a strong focus on solving practical translation problems, researching terminology etc, so while my tutor was excellent, I think my positive experience was also due to the course design itself and the materials supplied - basically the same across language pairs, as far as I know. The course notes are a type of "potted translation theory" as Charlotte has said, but I'm not sure if that description fully does them justice. What they do is present translation theory, which can be very prone to jargon and obfuscation, in a palatable way for the beginner, showing you how it relates to actual practice - something many books on theory don't manage very well!

As for their IOL Diploma course - you also get the main WLS notes (the Certificate course has additional notes specific to each assignment’s subject area) but the course itself seems to be mainly feedback on past IOL papers, as most courses seem to be. I would think that's fine if you already have the basics, but if you want to learn more about "realworld” translating and also have the IOL diploma, I would think the WLS Combined Course is worth the money. As for Charlotte’s point about the IOL diploma not being really necessary from the point of view of getting work , I would tend to think that’s often the case, but I’m not a freelancer so I can’t offer an opinion on what agencies might be looking for. In my own line of work, if recruiting suitable translators for projects, any translation qualification is an advantage, but relevant experience is a better advantage, followed by “hands-on” qualifications such as the WLS programme or certain university courses.

Hope my “tuppenceworth” was useful!

Kitty Brooks


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FR-EN IoL DipTrans long distance preparation courses

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