Advanced Translation Course Review

Last updated Jan 30, 2024
By Lucy Williams

I was a tester on the Advanced Translation Course with DipTrans preparation while Gwenydd Jones was developing it in 2014. I did it to help me prepare for the Diploma in Translation (DipTrans) 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.

Letters spelling out feedback for an advanced Spanish-to-English translation course
When you’re choosing a translation course, feedback from former students can help you make a decision.

Why did I choose this course?

I have been working as a translator for about seven years now but I didn’t come translation the traditional way, I didn’t study languages past the age of 16 and I don’t have a master’s in translation. I came to Seville to teach English, 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. I decided that in order to move my career on and get more and better-paid work, I would need a qualification. I decided on the DipTrans as it didn’t require a year full-time or three years part-time out of my life.

This course is designed for someone like me, who has a high level of Spanish and some experience of translating and wants a recognised translation qualification, without doing a master’s.

What I liked about the advanced translation course

It’s more comprehensive than other 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) and then provide you with around 6 texts to translate and have marked. Gwen provides ten modules which each include a translation assignment, 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 secret Facebook Community.

Ten modules covering all options in the DipTrans

Other courses I have taken or read about often only offer six marked assignments, whereas 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 courses I looked into were mostly concerned with providing you with past papers which you could 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.

Translation feedback

All courses provide feedback, and at first glance, the feedback was similarly structured to other courses: corrected assignments and 2 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, for instance 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, and gave me a path to follow to get there. The Skype sessions were properly structured beforehand, meaning 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 course in comparison to others makes it really excellent value for money.

What would I change about this 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 Community as I would have liked as there weren’t many other students participating at that time. However, this is something that will improve as more people sign up and I was able to interact on the community with my tutor. I think the Facebook Community will be a great resource.

Would you recommend it?

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 translation skills in general.

Read more about our CIOL DipTrans preparation course.

Written by Lucy Williams

Lucy Williams is a subtitler and a Spanish-English translator for fashion, tourism and luxury goods/services. She holds the CIOL Diploma in Translation and is a native English copywriter specialising in SEO-optimised long-form content. Connect with Lucy on LinkedIn.

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