Kent State University: A Day in the Life

student-149643_640The Program

Kent State University’s Department of Department of Modern and Classical Language Studies is home to an active and vibrant translation department boasting bachelor’s, master’s, and PhD programs in translation and translation studies. Five languages are currently offered in the master’s program (French, German, Japanese, Russian, and Spanish), and one more will be added in Fall 2014 (Arabic). The master’s program, a part of the Institute for Applied Linguistics, is a four-semester degree consisting of several core language-specific classes that target three basic domains in translation (Scientific/Technical/Medical, Legal/Commercial, and Literary/Cultural). It also includes a variety of courses that are not specific to the student’s language but which are targeted at increasing other translator competencies, including skills with CAT tools, software localization, terminology management, and project management. All master’s students are required to complete a case study (thesis) during their final semester in order to bring together the skills they have learned.

Below you will find an overview from three current Kent State MA students of some of the main aspects of study, work, and life at Kent State. Enjoy!

Teaching Assistantships
Written by: Meredith Cannella

One of the aspects that makes Kent State University particularly attractive to prospective students is that it offers applicants the opportunity to fund their graduate education through teaching assistantships. The MCLS department currently employs 28 graduate teaching assistants who provide instruction for elementary through advanced foreign language classes. Assistants are expected to dedicate 20 hours of work per week to service in their departments, and the award provides them with full tuition and fees as well as a living stipend.

Kent State graduate assistants gain valuable experience in a variety of teaching strategies and approaches. As language courses are commonly given in the target language, assistants must quickly adapt to the challenges of teaching exclusively in their respective languages of study.  Not only do assistants learn how to conduct these types of courses effectively, but they are also exposed to the educational research behind specific teaching methods. Depending on the needs of each academic department, assistants can opt to be involved with more than just traditional classroom instruction and may be responsible for conducting conversation courses, extra help or laboratory sessions, blended learning courses or even online, distance classes.

Both the university and the foreign language department offer support for graduate assistants throughout the course of the academic year. Prior to the start of classes, all assistants are required to attend workshops that deal with the challenges unique to college teaching at Graduate Student Orientation and must also complete a rigorous orientation program within their respective language departments. Both faculty and staff are used to working with graduate assistants and are sensitive to the needs of new teachers, especially those who may be teaching in the American college setting for the first time. With the help of this extended support network, assistants often report that they are able to effectively combine their teaching and graduate studies.

International Students
Written by: Laura Gasca Jiménez

One of the characteristics that makes Kent State University unique is its richly diverse student population. Kent State has more than 2,000 international students from over 100 countries around the world. The opportunities for international students at Kent State are endless. The International Student & Scholar Services (ISSS) office offers many opportunities for international students to meet other international and domestic students through various programs and events, from trips to Washington D.C. and Canada, to shopping trips, to country-specific cultural events. The ISSS advisors also help with cultural adjustments and other issues that international students may face living in a new country and being exposed to a new language and culture.

In addition to the ISSS office, the MCLS department, a comprehensive foreign language department providing a wide range of programs in foreign languages, offers the ideal working and studying environment for international students, which make up 40% of the school’s translation students. The MCLS department is well known for its Master of Arts in Translation degree as well as for its PhD in Translation Studies.

The courses given in the MA and PhD programs include both domestic and international students. As an international student you find that you become the voice and representative of your culture within the department, which is treated as a treasure by your professors and peers. In addition to its cosmopolitan classes, the MCLS department offers a variety of diverse cultural events. In the 2013-2014 academic year, for instance, it hosted two film series: the French and the Spanish and Latin American film series. These two film series provided students–both international and domestic–teachers, and the broader community unique opportunities to watch and discuss foreign films rarely available in the U.S.

Written by: Christopher Merkel

It goes without saying that the graduate programs in translation and translation studies at Kent State are top notch, but another unique aspect of the Kent State experience is the MCLS graduate student organization KentLingua. I was personally attracted to Kent State because it provides unrivaled instruction in technical translation and in the application of computer translation tools. But I assumed that I would simply spend a couple of years in Kent, Ohio learning what I’d gone to learn and then leave it behind me. As it’s turned out, however, I’ve become very involved with and invested in KentLingua, which has made my graduate studies at Kent State all the richer.

KentLingua supports Kent State translation students from before incoming students even arrive at the program through a peer mentor system geared toward easing new students’ transitions into graduate studies and to life in Kent. Once the academic year begins, the officers of KentLingua continue to act as liaisons between new students, faculty, other translation students, and the greater graduate student body. As the year moves on, KentLingua organizes a variety of social and professional events designed to foster community, collaboration, and the success of Kent State students both within and beyond our coursework and our programs. In addition to emails on upcoming events, KentLingua also sends out a regular newsletter that keeps students, faculty, and alumni abreast of MCLS-related activity. Its officers work to maintain and grow a collection of translation resources available to all translation students and works to organize discounts on computer tools. The organization also represents the department in the Kent State Graduate Student Senate, which provides students opportunities for domestic and international travel funding, whether for summer internships or for attendance or presentations at conferences, including the ATA conference in the fall.

About the authors:

Meredith Cannella is a first year master’s student in Spanish Translation and a graduate teaching assistant. She is simultaneously pursuing a MA in Audiovisual Translation from the Universidade de Vigo in northern Spain, where she worked as an English instructor within the Translation and Interpreting and Philology departments. Originally from New York City and a dual citizen of Ireland, she works from Spanish and Galician into American and European English.

Laura Gasca Jiménez is a second-year MA student in Spanish translation at Kent State University, where she also works as a Spanish instructor of two undergraduate courses. She is a native speaker of Spanish and Basque. She was born and raised in the Basque Country, in the north of Spain, and she completed a five-year BA degree in English with a minor in translation at Complutense University in Madrid. She is specialized in linguistics and education, and has experience in legal and literary translation. She will be starting a PhD program in Spanish Linguistics at the University of Houston this coming August.

Christopher Merkel is a first year master’s student in Japanese-English translation and the current president of KentLingua. He holds a BA in Japanese and a BA in International Studies from The Ohio State University and has worked as a copywriter, a copyeditor, a book reviewer, and a freelance translator. He likes to ride his bicycle and will be serving as a Japanese-English technical translation fellow at the World Intellectual Property Organization this summer.