When I’m in my 50s and game localization is too much for me, I want to become a lecturer in translation studies. I would love to create a post-graduate equivalent translation course that teaches aspiring translators effective and useful translation methods and help them make their own way in the world.

Even though it’s a long way off, I thought it might be fun to come up with my dream translation course.

 

Translation Skills

When I was studying at Bellevue College (Washington, USA), the basic translation skills classes were all mono-lingual. Meaning that no matter our language pair, all the students were in the same class working on translation skills only in English. I thought this was a great idea! Before we even touched translation we were given the skills we needed to be able to translate.

If I had my own translation course, I would have mono-lingual translation skills be required as the very first class.

This class would teach the students different translation schedules, how to research, edit, and proofread.

It would also act as a vocational translation theory class, going over various translation techniques, the pros and cons of them, and when and where you can use them. Basically getting the students to realise there’s no one way to handle a translation, and they need to make a decision based on numerous factors about how they want to approach a translation.

 

Language Training

I am of the mind that aspiring translators (even professional translators) should continue studying their second language. There’s always something new to learn!

So I would have the translation students take classes in their source language while they’re taking the mono-lingual translation skills class.

As part of that I would also encourage them to read books in other languages. Could be fiction or non-fiction, but at least three to four books in a year in another language to help boost reading comprehension skills.

 

Writing Classes in Target Language

Strong writing skills in your target language* is also incredibly important for translation. So if I had my own translation class I would make sure they were enrolled in writing classes.

Basic understanding of creative writing, copywriting, and technical writing in their target language would be a must.

(*I say “target language” and not “native language” because there are some people who want to translate into their non-native language. It’s difficult but some people are good enough and a class like this would better equip them to working in their non-native language.)

 

Translation Technology

This was my favourite class when I did my MA at SOAS (London, UK). The translation technology lessons taught us how to use CAT tools (computer aided translation tools), TMs (translation memories), and subtitling software. As well as the history and limitations of machine translation.

If I was teaching this class I would also include glossary management, and the use of other tools like dictation software, and any other legitimate translation tools that arise in the next two decades.

 

Translation

I envision my course to be two-years long, with the first year focusing on a strong foundation in translation skills, language comprehension, and technology, and the second year bringing it all together. This way they can apply what they learned with CAT tools, glossary management, editing, etc. and apply that to real translation work.

Students would only work from their source into their target language. (It’s easy to miss things when you’re translating into a language you’re not proficient in on a native-level.)

 

I would have two translation classes running concurrently: creative and technical translation. We would go over the different translation techniques they learned in the skills class and how they can be used in different situations.

I would have creative and technical translation run alongside one-another because that makes it easier to see the differences and similarities between the two. It would also help students get a good idea of what kinds of translation they feel better suited for.

We’d also go over topics like, translating into a pivot language, writing translation comments for translators and editors, the importance of style and term consistency, and cultural and physical limitations in various mediums.

Students would also learn how to edit and give constructive feedback on each other’s work. It would be tough, but learning how to give and take feedback is incredibly important for being successful.

 

Project Management

A class in project management would also be a must. Students need to learn good time management, finance management, how to correspond in different languages, how to market themselves, how to stay healthy, etc.

This would be a great course because by the end of the year all the students would already be involved in professional groups and have a website or portfolio in a field of their choice that they can use to market themselves once they graduate.

 

Final Project

The final project would be a dissertation equivalent translation where each student would choose something long to translate (about 12,000-13,000 words) and write an in-depth essay about it.

I did this for my MA final project and it was a great experience. A lot of translation projects are long-form, so it’s important to learn how to manage time, be consistent in terms, wording, tone, and style, etc. for longer translations.

 

Additional Talks

It would be fun to organize additional professional and academic talks in various fields that students and teachers of all fields can attend.

When I was at SOAS I was very annoyed that I missed out on a lot of interesting Japanese language talks because I was in the linguistics department and not the Japanese department. Translation overlaps with a number of fields and it’s important to give students as many opportunities to learn new things as possible.

As I said, I think being able to cater my own post-graduate level translation course is a pipe dream right now. But this is basically my dream translation studies course. If something like this had been available when I was doing my MA, I would have jumped on it. So if you’re a university lecturer in translation studies, I hope you consider some of these and incorporate them into your own classes!

 

If you’re interested in building a translation course, this is a great article from the ATA: Teaching Localization in the 21st Century: Six Practices That Make a Difference.

If you’re interested in my MA in translation experience then check out Review of MA Theory and Practice of Translation at SOAS, University of London and What an MA in Translation Doesn’t Teach You.

 

My Dream Translation Course
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