A Day in the Life: Bellevue College

This week we continue with our “A Day in the Life” series featuring an article written in collaboration by two current students from the Bellevue College Translation and Interpretation Certificate Program. We find it very interesting to hear the unique perspectives of students from completely different backgrounds who share a common goal: Applying their language skills to work through a new career path.

by Angelique Giachetti-HalmBellevue

About two years ago I decided to leave Paris, France to start a new life with my husband in Seattle, Washington. Soon after we got settled I found a job at a bilingual school.

Living and working in a bilingual environment has been a fascinating and eye-opening experience. It really made me realize that it takes much more than language skills to communicate efficiently and help people understand each other. Through daily interactions with teachers, students and parents I´ve become very interested in becoming a culture broker to help others bridge the gap of different worlds and mindsets.

Right after college, I briefly worked as a technical translator and an escort interpreter. At the time, I had faced the same communication challenges but only had a limited ability to efficiently address them. So I decided it was now time to look for professional training that would help me develop these specific skills.

I looked up online training and that is when I stumbled upon the Bellevue College Translation and Interpretation Certificate Program.

Bellevue College Translation and Interpretation Certificate Program

The BC T&I Certificate Program immediately caught my attention. Not only is the content of the program attractive, the main advantage is that it is designed for people who are working and want to gain skills at their own pace -just like me!

Two tracks are available: Translation and Interpretation (24 credits each). However, since both tracks share most of the core courses, you can pursue them simultaneously and get a certificate for both by just adding 4 classes (36 credits).

Classes meet in the evening (6 to 9pm) and you can choose if you want to sign up for 1, 2 or 3 classes a week, which allows you to manage your workload. They are taught by outstanding working professionals.

Language-specific classes begin the second year but you need to wait until there are enough students in your language pair to start. It takes about two years to complete the program.


Taking TRANS 101 is a great way to get started.

It is a mandatory 10-week class that covers the essentials of the translation and interpretation courses (5 sessions each).

You quickly gain skills through practice and carefully-selected reading materials. The small size of the group – there were 20 of us – and the amazing diversity of the students – 9 languages spoken!- allow you to learn in a comfortable and enriching environment.

Classes are taught by highly regarded professionals.

In my case, the interpretation part was taught by Martha Cohen, who is a certified Washington State Court Spanish>English Interpreter and also the manager of the Office of Interpreter Services at King County Superior Court House.

The translation part was taught by Teresa Ramón Joffré who is a certified English>Spanish biomedical translator with extensive knowledge and experience in the translation field.

Being taught by such professionals is a priceless opportunity. Not only do they share their precious knowledge and experience, but they also get involved personally and help you connect with people, resources or even jobs.

I am already looking forward to taking classes in the fall after a well-deserved summer vacation in France, Spain and Portugal! I will be taking Ethics and Business Practices of Translation and Interpretation. I really enjoy the fact that I can adjust my schedule to my needs, especially since I will be working more hours in the coming year.

by Taylor Elaine Allen

The Bellevue College Translation and Interpretation Certificate Program is attractive for many reasons: the caliber and cost of the program, the intimate classroom setting that promotes camaraderie with peers and teachers alike, and a flexible schedule that allows each individual to move at his or her own pace.

The program boasts a wide variety of languages offered. Initially you start with mixed classes, as the 100-level courses are not language-specific. I’ve worked with people from many different language backgrounds including individuals from Japan, Brazil, Portugal, Mexico, China, France, Russia, El Salvador and Spain, just to name a few. Each class meets once a week for three hours, accompanied by readings and individual and group work outside of class. Comparatively, some classes require more reading than others, but the content of the journals, articles and information that we are given access to is outstanding.

As Angélique mentions, one aspect of this program that differs from others is that you can pursue a certificate in both translation and interpretation at the same time. The majority of the 100-level classes are split into two parts: five sessions focusing on translation and the other five regarding interpretation. For those who are not sure which direction they would like to go, this is a fantastic opportunity to get a taste of what both sides of the industry have to offer. Additionally, the teachers in our program are exceptional individuals with an abundance of experience and knowledge in the T&I industry. I have been lucky enough to take two classes from one of our many top-notch teachers, Caitilin Walsh. Caitilin has been professionally translating since ’89, is an ATA-Certified French>English translator and is also the President of the American Translators Association (not to mention, a fellow Willamette University alumna, Go Bearcats!). As a student pursuing a career in translation, it is highly motivating and encouraging to be educated by such an array of awesome individuals who provide you with a multitude of support and want to see you succeed.

As of now, I have taken three of the eight required courses, the introductory class, Terminology and Research Management, and Ethics and Business Practices of Translation and Interpretation. Through these classes the students gain a number of practical skills, tools, documents and knowledge that we will surely find useful in our careers in the T & I industry.

Next up, Fundamentals of Translation along with Technology for Translators and Interpreters. I’m eager to get some hands-on experience with a few translation tools out there. And in November I hope to see many of you at the ATA 55th Annual Conference in Chicago, and I am looking forward to meeting those of you in the Spanish Language Division for some tasty tapas!

About the authors:

Angélique Giachetti-Halm graduated in Psychology with an M.A in Work, Organizational and Personnel Psychology – in 2011 (Erasmus Mundus Program – University of Paris Descartes / Universitat de Barcelona / Portland State University). She is originally from France and has lived in Seattle since 2012 where she married a local. She works at the French American School of Puget Sound as a Social Emotional Learning Program Coordinator. Ms. Giachetti-Halm speaks French, English, Spanish and a little Italian.

Taylor Allen graduated from Willamette University with a BA in Spanish and has a passion for learning languages, including Galician and French. She worked as a language and cultural ambassador through the North American Conversation Auxiliars grant program in La Coruña, Galicia, in Northern Spain for two years after college. Through Bellevue College, she is now pursuing a translation certificate with the intent of focusing on the well-established wine industry and the fast growing craft beer industry in Spanish-speaking countries around the world.

2 thoughts on “A Day in the Life: Bellevue College

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