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Short course student translates learning into success

As the course progressed, I learned to refine my skills to become a creative, inventive translator – when you only have paper resources to refer to and no Google, you are forced to analyse the roots and stems of words to derive the meanings that are not listed in any of your dictionaries. The course helped me gain confidence in these areas.

I’d had a passion for translation since studying French and Spanish at Leeds University between 1999 and 2003, and after graduation I volunteered as a translator for the Institute of Race Relations. My dream was to become a successful freelance translator and to have a professional career with flexible working hours, which allowed me to pursue my other various interests.

I was looking for a distance learning course that met my needs: to be able to study part-time alongside my employment as a support worker for the Equality Service at Leeds University, working closely with a disabled student during her BA in French and Spanish followed by the MA in Applied Translation Studies. I was sure that the Diploma in Translation was the best route for me and so the City course was perfect for my career plan.

I was very impressed with the course content and delivery: the tasks were clear and straightforward. It was, however, a steep learning curve and a step up from undergraduate-level translation – including contracts, technical and scientific documents – especially as internet access was not permitted. There was lots of scouring through dictionaries!

I had a very receptive tutor who gave constructive feedback and clear advice on best translating strategies and exam techniques in preparation for the arduous task of sitting the Diploma in Translation exam! Quite literally a strenuous task involving carting a suitcase of dictionaries on the train from Leeds and through the London Underground to my exam venue!

As the course progressed, I learned to refine my skills to become a creative, inventive translator – when you only have paper resources to refer to and no Google, you are forced to analyse the roots and stems of words to derive the meanings that are not listed in any of your dictionaries. The course helped me gain confidence in these areas.

I currently specialise in life sciences and technical translation and am highly focused on my career, but as a creative type at heart, I may decide to specialise in other domains of translation. Thus, the MA in Translating Popular Culture at City sounds intriguing…

It is six years since I studied at City and since then I’ve had such an interesting time building up my translation career! Starting in-house as a Translation Checker at a small UK-based translation company, I was promoted to Translator after six months and gained experience of meeting clients’ demands with a smile. I then took some time out from office-based work and went to live in Dakar, Senegal for a year, teaching English and giving workshops on translation and business practices I’d learned to students and staff there at the school. I even helped to implement a Quality Control procedure in their Translation Unit. During all of this time I was busy building up freelance contacts. Upon my return to the UK I was selected for an in-house Translator position at a large translation and localisation firm, specialising in life sciences. A relevant Open University module helped me build up my knowledge of the pharmaceutical industry and as a result, I was promoted to Life Sciences Lead, before leaving this position to pursue my freelance dream. Soon an opportunity came up to teach the Advanced Spanish-English module on the MA in Translation Studies at Sheffield University, a part-time post that I’ve held for the past 18 months. I’m very proud to say that my students are giving me great feedback.

My entire varied career so far has been built on the solid foundation of my postgraduate studies at City, University of London, and for this I’m very grateful.

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City, University of London is an independent member institution of the University of London. Established by Royal Charter in 1836, the University of London consists of 18 independent member institutions with outstanding global reputations and several prestigious central academic bodies and activities.