Study resources for translation certification

Study resources for translation certificationOur team leader Helen has been a busy bee compiling a list of resources to help translators interested in taking the ATA certification exam. Even if you are not seeking certification, we felt there are many useful resources here we would like to share with you—from exam guidelines & translation tips to English & Spanish language, technology and copyediting resources. Use them to hone your craft and please let us know if you found them useful.

This list was reblogged with permission from Gaucha Translations blog.

From the ATA Certification program

From the WA DSHS Certification program

ATA Computerized exam

What is translation?

Articles on how to approach translation

English resources

Bilingual references

  • Word Reference
  • Linguee
  • Word Magic
  • Google Translate and Proz are not approved resources for the ATA computerized exam. No interactive resource (where you can ask a live question on a forum) is approved. The resources listed above are OK.
  • Click here to see the official ATA guidelines for computerized exams.

Plain Language

English copy editing training

Canada copy editing (includes certification)

Medical copy editing (AMWA has a certification program)

Resources from other translation certification programs

Copy editing tools to produce clean documents

Other training on translation, technology and other

Readers, would you add anything to this list of resources? Have you used any of these resources and found them useful?

Header image credit: tookapic

What I Care About

By Helen Eby

hand-577777_1280What have I learned over the last few months?

I care about people.

María Díaz. Wow! She was one of my students in a class in Woodburn. She was a nurse in Mexico, and came to the US because her son needed medical treatment. She knew no English when she came, but she had been managing five clinics in Mexico. She went from being in charge of the medical treatment of many people to having no understanding of the world around her while her son was in and out of doctor appointments. However, she never gave up. Almost thirty years later, she showed up in my medical interpreting class. She had worked in the kitchen at a restaurant and at a paintbrush factory, had taken ESL, and was now a case manager at a clinic. Read her story here: http://blog.gauchati.com/story-of-immigrant-interpreter/

Emerlinda. She grew up in rural Mexico. Her parents only let her go to school up until 6th grade. She was working at a childcare center, and I was using space in the center to teach interpreters how to write better. She jumped in and joined us, despite the fact that she hadn’t written anything for a class in over 40 years. In my class, I teach people by getting them to read good literature and write paragraphs based on what they think about the readings, and then we discuss grammar topics based on what they’ve written. Before I knew it, Emerlinda was explaining to the class what her “Teacher Chola” had told her in 4th grade, and was telling one of the other students how to understand stories by Cortázar, one of the great Argentine authors. Dictionaries don’t really help us understand certain things. Emerlinda had the cultural background to understand this, which John was lacking. I would have loved to take her into a college Spanish literature class to explain this story! In a few months, she had improved her writing significantly based on what we were doing. She was telling others how important it was to read. When her husband made it difficult for her to attend our sessions, I left a suitcase full of books at the center so she could read during lunch breaks. Nothing could stop Emerlinda once she had been bitten by the reading bug!

Emily. She just got back from getting her Masters in Interpreting in Spain and she signed up for my medical interpreting class in Woodburn. By the luck of the draw, she also asked the ATA for a mentor, and they assigned her to me! Wow! She’s awesome. We are working on how to help her to launch. Just helping her connect with local people, local needs and opportunities, and having lunch for a few hours once in a while is a privilege. And it sure is weird to teach someone else a class about what I learned by experience, while she studied it in a Master’s program, and one of her professors is the author of the book I’m teaching from! Emily and I have become friends. She wrote a document based on her Master’s research for a group of members of the Oregon Society of Translators and Interpreters (OSTI) to take to Washington DC in April (read more here).

Cynthia. She just graduated from college. She has a major in Linguistics and a minor in Spanish. She has so much to offer, and I have so much to learn from her! She’s my daughter, and I want to support her as she starts on her own path – it’s her path. She is already starting to tell me what I should be doing better… and she is right, almost all the time.

The Savvy Newcomer team. This team is amazing. I’m not going to go down the list (except for Cynthia), but each person is truly amazing and has taught me something special. Together, we work together and make great things come together for the benefit of others.

There is always something special in everyone around us. Every job we do is for someone who deserves our respect. If we do our jobs with that in mind, thinking of María and of Emerlinda, who still remembers what Teacher Chola taught her, we will do our jobs differently.

And then… I did something totally insane.

This summer, I organized a Training of Trainers for The Community® International here in Oregon. Twenty highly qualified interpreters came, fifteen of them from Oregon. After that, I walked with a lighter step. Now, if anything happens, I rest assured in the knowledge that we can work as partners and we can work together to solve problems. If a health issue comes up, one of my colleagues can teach my class. As a trainer, that is a huge relief! Knowing that others also care about training interpreters in Oregon is wonderful, too.

This training event would never have happened without support. It was, again, a team effort. Who helped out?

  • Western Oregon University. They wanted to reach out, and help ASL interpreters and spoken language interpreters to reach out to medical interpreters in Oregon together.
  • An organization that coordinates quite a few healthcare providers scattered throughout Oregon contacted me to offer support. The medical providers told us they needed us to be available to train staff and interpreters throughout Oregon, and Western Oregon University gave us a significant break in the cost of the space.

It seemed impossible. But with these partners, the impossible happened. We brought the training down to a cost that interpreters could afford, and they came to a retreat. It was awesome, and now we have a team that cares about others. We’ll see where it goes from here: http://blog.gauchati.com/tcitot-agenda/

Interpreting is teamwork. Even when we interpret, we are a team with the person we interpret for. When I say, “The interpreter requests a clarification,” it means, “I need your help to get your message across clearly. You and I are on the same team.” In simultaneous interpreting, of course, we have a partner in the booth who is tremendously supportive. We also are a team with the person who helps set up the project.

Translation is teamwork. I usually send a list of queries to my client: “Where you said this, I thought you should have said this, and translated it this way for now. Is that OK, or should I change it to something else? Please let me know. And you have a typo here. Please clarify.” The clients love it. Of course, there is also the reviser – a translator who is just as qualified as I am and who can tell me, “Helen, this is a better way to say it.” Or, “Helen, your translation is too literal; I think you’ve traveling into Calque-Land here. You may want to travel back to the land of good writing.”

We don’t ever work alone. We are a team. But, back to the original issue: people matter. The people I work with and work for really matter. When I train interpreters, blog about my work, and lead The Savvy Newcomer, I keep people in mind and I do it all with their support.

MIIS: A Day in the Life

By Erin Teske

MIIS Branding Identity Change logoMy first glimpse of what it would be like to be a student at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, formerly the Monterey Institute of International Studies (MIIS), came when I received the results of my Early Diagnostic Test (EDT), which is an essential part of the application process. The Spanish program coordinator suggested that I spend a few more months improving my language skills in a Spanish-speaking country before enrolling in the program. When I told her that I was already living in Argentina, she promptly sent me a list of Spanish grammar classes offered in Buenos Aires and even put me in touch with a former MIIS professor who happened to be living around the corner from me at the time. Continue reading

Century College Translating and Interpreting Certificate/AA: A Day in the Life

By Kristen Mages

Century_college_logo_lrgIf you fall into the vast majority of the population, you may never have heard of Century College in White Bear Lake, Minnesota. I hadn’t either until I recently moved back to the Twin Cities and was looking into options for studying interpretation as a career. That’s when I stumbled upon Century College’s Translating and Interpreting (TRIN) program, which came highly recommended to me by my new boss at a large pediatric hospital in the area.

Upon further investigation, I discovered that the TRIN program at Century College has been around since the fall of 2009, when it was created to help meet the increasing demand for professionally-trained interpreters in Minnesota. As one of two such programs in MN, the Century program is unique in that it offers two tracks of study. There is a 30-credit certificate program and a 60-credit Associate in Applied Sciences Degree. All of the classes are language-neutral, meaning that any language pairs are acceptable for students, and all classes are taught in English. Language reviewers are brought in periodically each semester to give feedback to students on language specific elements of their work.

Classes are offered in a variety of formats. Some, such as Beginning, Intermediate and Advanced Skills of Interpreting, are evening classes held on campus. For these, you must be either physically present at Century or at one of its partner schools, located in more remote areas of MN, where an ITV (Interactive Television) system is used. Other classes are entirely online, and yet others are a hybrid of the two formats. By offering a variety of options, Century College enables students to study in the TRIN program while holding down a day job or raising a family.

As I already have a Bachelor’s degree, I opted for the certificate program. The first step was to take the introductory courses and get to know my classmates and professors. From the onset, I knew I had made an excellent decision in choosing Century. Classes were small, ranging from 7-20 students, which allowed for us to develop close relationships witheach other. One of the best parts of the program was getting to know the other students since we all came from such different walks of life. We were pretty evenly split between students born in the United States and students born in other countries, and the languages among us included Spanish, Arabic, Hmong, Russian, and Korean. Some of us had previous university education, even master’s degrees, while others had never attended college. Some of us had chosen translation and interpretingas our first career while many others were coming back to school after working in other fields or raising a family. And finally, some of us had already been working in the field as freelancers while others had never interpreted a single encounter. Despite all of these differences, we were united in one common goal: developing ourselves professionally so as to become trained interpreters ready to take on the challenges of a rapidly evolving field.

At the end of the first semester, each student is required to take the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI) in both of their working languages. We were required to score an Advanced High or Superior on both in order to continue in the program. Admittedly, we were all a little nervous about this. But in addition to working on interpreting and translation techniques in our first semester, we had also learned how to be confident in our abilities.

As students advance through the program, they are able to personalize their courses to their particular areas of interest, whether that be inthe medical field, legal field, educational arena, or all of the above. In each higher-level class, the Century College language lab is utilized, and we quickly became proficient in using both recording programs such as Audacity and Sanako. Additionally, a frequent assignment is to go out, observe and interview working interpreters in the courtroom, classroom or another setting. We would then write reflection papers on what we learned and share it with our classmates.

Toward the end of the program, students are placed in internships according to what setting they plan to work in. This is an opportunity to gain some real-world experience and of course, a great way to connect with potential employers. Another wonderful networking opportunity for students is the Student Success Day TRIN panel that takes place every semester. For this event, the TRIN program brings in a panel of speakers to answer students’ questions and share the triumphs and challenges of being an active interpreter or translator in the field. These panelists include interpreter services managers at hospitals, hiring personnel from translation agencies, freelance interpreters running their own businesses, etc. Oftentimes this panel features Century TRIN program alumni who share their firsthand experiences of transitioning from being students to full-fledged professionals.

Besides the diversity in in the classroom, another excellent part of the program is the TRIN potluck at the end of the semester. You have never seen such a spread of food as everyone proudly brings a dish that represents the culture they most identify with! Plus it’s a great opportunity for all of the different levels of students to meet up and chat in a relaxed setting.

Overall, the Century TRIN program has been exactly what I wanted! It has enabled me to take my career to the next level by equipping me with the necessary tools to do my work well and connecting me with many valuable resources in the area. I feel more than prepared to fully enter the field after I finish my last semester this fall!

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About the author: Kristen Mages is a TRIN student and freelance interpreter based in St. Paul, Minnesota. She graduated from Concordia College in Moorhead, MN, with a B.A. in Honors Spanish and Communications. She then went on to live and work in the Dominican Republic for two years. Upon returning to the United States, she began the TRIN certificate program at Century College. She has completed two semesters of the program and will take her final classes as well as complete her internship in the fall of 2014. When not studying, she works as a freelance interpreter in various medical and educational settings. She is a member of the Upper Midwest Interpreters and Translators Association (UMTIA) and NAJIT.

An Invitation: “A Day in the Life”

megaphone-297467_640As you may have noticed, the ATA Savvy Newcomer blog will be running a series in the coming months on the many options for education in translation and interpreting that exist in the U.S. We have had posts by NYU and Kent State students, and we are in the process of reaching out to other institutions that have certificate and/or degree programs in T&I to have their students write a “Day in the Life” post about their school. Ideally, we would like to feature traditional programs, as well as language-neutral programs and/or those focusing on languages of lesser diffusion.

Although we realize that posts of this nature may provide an advertising opportunity for each school, the primary goal of the series is to serve as an impartial source of information. We like to keep posts on The Savvy Newcomer short and sweet—as close to 900 words as possible. The article can come from one single student author or multiple authors covering different aspects of life at the school, and each contributor is asked to provide a bio of approximately 100 words.

If you are a student or a staff or faculty member at a school that has a translation and/or interpreting program, and are interested in helping to coordinate a post for your institution, please contact atasavvynewcomer@atanet.org. From there, a member of our team will connect with you to provide more information about submission specifications and deadlines. We look forward to hearing from you!