ATISDA Blog (Association of Translators and Interpreters in the San Diego Area)

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International Translation Day


*Translator’s Note: A message to everyone around the globe working in the translation and interpreting industry.

Celebrate International Translation Day:

Tuesday, September 30, is International Translation Day and I suspect many of us in the field will be marking this special day just like any other workday: by working. Although that’s certainly a fitting way to honor St. Jerome, the patron saint of translators, there are many other ways to celebrate the occasion and our profession. Here are a few ideas:

1. Take part in an International Translation Day event:

2. Register for an upcoming industry conference or event, before it’s too late:

3.  Enjoy some translation-related humor:

4. Take advantage of special promotions on leading CAT tools:

5. Send good wishes to your fellow translators and interpreters around the globe, especially those who are so busy working they might not realize what day it is.


Back to School: Part II


Online Education

The last blog was devoted to classes in San Diego that can help interpreters and translators sharpen their business skills. Now it’s time to turn to free online resources that can help you develop various language skills and learn about career-related topics. There are many sites out there, but for now we will focus on just one type: MOOCs.

What’s a MOOC?

Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs, are free online courses. Many are streamlined versions of classes that professors teach to tuition-paying students who earn college credit. MOOCs generally won’t earn you credit, although many offer “completion certificates” for a fee. Although they can be fun and educational, there are limitations. The biggest criticism is that they aren’t as effective as traditional education because the instructors, in most cases, simply release a video of their lectures and have little or no direct contact with students. Instead, students take computer-graded quizzes and are instructed to interact on message boards with teacher assistants and other students, which can be unwieldy when tens of thousands of students are enrolled in one class (that’s why they’re called “massive”). Still, I think most criticism comes from people who have never enrolled in a MOOC, much less completed one.

Muchos MOOCs

The biggest MOOC sites are Coursera and edX, although there are plenty of others, including novoEd, Canvas, Open2Study (Australia), Future Learn (UK), and iversity (Germany). The number of subject fields and classes they offer is growing every day. Although you can start some courses whenever you want and go at your own pace, most have specific start and end dates and deadlines for completing assignments. If you find a class you’d like to take but it’s already or almost over, check back later as many are repeated—and refined.

Writing & Grammar Skills

While T&I-specific MOOCs do exist (more on that in a minute), there are many more that are related to the field, and this is where I think MOOCs can really benefit translators and interpreters. Take grammar and writing classes, for example. Whether we’re translators or interpreters, or native or non-native speakers of English, I bet we could all learn something from the following courses: English Composition, Writing II: Rhetorical ComposingWriting in the SciencesEnglish Grammar and StyleWriting for the Web, Fundamentals of Structured Writing for Technical Documentation, and Writing for a Global Market. Sign up for a few to try them out and then stick with the one(s) you like. Don’t worry, the MOOC police won’t come after you if you bail after a few weeks.

Culture, anyone?

As translators and interpreters, we don’t just work with words, we deal with different cultures. And often it’s our lack of cultural knowledge, not our linguistic abilities, that leads to epic fails. I trust we can all think of a few examples. With MOOCs, we can learn about another culture without ever stepping foot on foreign soil. For those of us that translate from Spanish, we’re in luck because we have not one ¡but two! courses to choose from: Latino Popular Culture for the Clueless and Latin American Culture. And for our colleagues translating and interpreting German, there’s Communicating in German Across Cultures. (Bitte schön.) For those of you still trying to figure out American culture, just keep reading this blog.

Non-English Instruction

Although most MOOCs are conducted in English, more and more are available in other languages. For all you lucky Mandarin translators out there, you actually have a MOOC designed specifically for translators: Principles and Practice of Computer Aided Translation. For those of us that don’t speak Mandarin, we’ll have to keep paying for CAT tool classes or learn them on our own. In the meantime, though, we can learn about other topics of interest in languages we do know—or start learning a new language!

Decision Time

With the growing number of MOOCs, choosing one can be daunting. If you want to narrow your options, this link breaks down some English-language classes by subject matter. If you speak Spanish, this link lists 240 online classes in Spanish and English starting this month. If you’re still finding it difficult picking a MOOC, perhaps you need this class: Decision Skills: Power Tools to Build Your Life. I’m just saying.