In 2014, I was an Alpha Tester on the Advanced Spanish-to-English Translation Course with DipTrans Preparation while Gwenydd Jones was developing it. I did it to help me prepare for the Diploma in Translation exam offered by the Chartered Institute of Linguists. Part of my brief was to report back on how I found the course and whether I would recommend it to other translators.
Disclaimer: since writing this review in 2016, Lucy Williams has joined the team at The Translator’s Studio and is now a tutor on this course. The review was written before she joined us.
Why did I choose this Advanced Spanish-to-English translation course?
I have been working as a translator for about seven years, but I didn’t come to translation the traditional way. I didn’t study languages past the age of 16 and I don’t have an MA in translation. Having gone to Seville to teach English, I married a Spaniard, learnt Spanish to a high level and gradually moved sideways into translation. I built up a good client list and CV but felt there was a gap on it. To move my career forward and get more and better-paid work, I needed a qualification. So, I decided on the DipTrans as it didn’t require a year full-time or two years part-time out of my life.
This advanced Spanish-to-English translation course is designed for someone like me. That is, a linguist with a high level of Spanish and some experience of translating. Someone who wants a recognised translation qualification, without doing an MA in translation studies.
What I liked about the course run by Gwenydd Jones of the Translator’s Studio
It’s more comprehensive than other advanced Spanish-to-English translation courses on the market. I’ve done courses before, but they are all very much of a muchness. Other courses tend to offer some information about translating to read (which you could find yourself easily enough). They then provide you with around six texts to translate and have marked, with a limited amount of feedback. The Translator’s Studio course comprises 10 modules. Each includes a translation assignment, a practice translation, a manual discussing aspects of translation theory and an optional task. There is also the possibility of discussing aspects of the course or the tasks in the private Facebook group.
Ten modules covering all options in the DipTrans
Other courses I have taken or read about often only offer six marked assignments. Gwen provides ten modules, covering not only the different options in the three exams (general, business, science, technology, social science, literature and law) but also exam technique and proofreading. This means that even if you ultimately don’t sit the DipTrans, you’ll find your general level of translation and the standard of your work greatly improved. If you do sit the DipTrans, you’ll have produced at least one translation under timed conditions for all the possible options you could be faced with in the exam.
Didactic element of learning how to translate
As I mentioned before, other advanced diploma in translation courses I looked into were mostly concerned with providing you with past papers to do and receive feedback on. Gwen’s course teaches you to be a better translator. The first eight modules come with their own manual discussing different aspects of translation theory and relating it to the practice text. So, I have learnt about decoding, encoding, skopos, domestication and foreignization, microtext and macrotext, among other things. This then relates to your own translation. I have learnt that I am a macrotext translator and to improve I have to work harder and be more aware of the microtext.
All courses provide feedback. At first glance, the feedback was similarly structured to other courses: corrected assignments and two Skype sessions. Where the Translator’s Studio differed was that Gwen was excellent at picking up on exactly what my bad translation habits were, the things I was doing without even realising. These included straying too far from the source and being too creative or overusing nominalisation (which sounded stilted). This, combined with the aspects of translation theory, meant I really began to see where I needed to improve and why. Better still, I had a path to follow and a coach to help me get there. The tutorials were properly structured beforehand. This meant I really got something out of them, as opposed to it just turning into a bit of a chat.
Great value for money
I also think that the amount of input and taught material on this advanced translation course in comparison to others makes it really excellent value for money.
What would I change about this advanced Spanish-to-English translation course?
Well, I have to say nothing really. It was exactly what I was looking for and surpassed my expectations. As it had only just been launched and I was one of the first students, I didn’t get as much use out of the Facebook group as I would have liked. This was because there weren’t many other students in 2014. However, this is something that will improve as more people sign up. I was able to interact on the community with my tutor. I think the Facebook group will be a great resource.
Would I recommend the course?
Yes, definitely. I think it’s a great course to prepare for the DipTrans. But I also think it’s a great option for anyone wanting to improve their Spanish-to-English translation skills in general.