Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

Translation and Interpretation Careers for Spanish Students

Hi everyone! If you were around last week, today’s post is the English translation of Carmen’s response to studying and working in the translation and interpretation sector.  We’re expanding the discussion to give all of our English readers a chance to participate, so don’t forget to let us know what you think!

A cartoon image of a bee flying between two flowers, one representing Spanish, the other English, depicting translation.

As I read the article that Eugenia recommended to us last week, it was almost like going back in time. Coincidentally, I also started a degree in Translation and Interpreting Studies in autumn 2005 and could have been one of the students surveyed in Professor Calvo’s study, in which she asked various first year students from different universities in Spain about their choice to study translation and interpretation.

Had I been asked prior to my reading the article, I would not have remembered the reasons why I chose to study Translation and Interpreting Studies in the first place. As I read through the article, though, all those memories came back to me. I can completely identify with those first-year students who are unsure of what they want but are attracted to the prospect of traveling abroad, meeting people from around the world, and getting a degree that might lead to a prestigious job, such as working for the UN.

As the article mentioned, designing a Translation and Interpreting Studies curriculum is not an easy task. This particular program attracts people with very different expectations and fluency levels in various foreign languages. Meeting all those expectations and providing the appropriate training requirements to each individual is almost impossible.

In my opinion, designing an approach that is attentive to students’ conceptions of what exactly a Translation and Interpreting Studies degree should entail would definitely help create a more realistic and attractive curriculum. Not to say that this should be the main focus of the curriculum, but a component that is at least recognized and considered. More attention should also be given to vocational guidance and providing counseling services to students. Just like the students mentioned in the article, my friends and I lowered our career expectations over the academic years, and by the end of our studies, we felt as if we were facing a very uncertain future. We were finished with four years of studying and training, without an idea of what exactly we wanted or, even worse, what we could offer to the labor market.

The article Eugenia co-wrote is a huge and necessary step towards understanding the interests, hesitations, and uncertainty of students within Translation and Interpreting Studies. From the many conclusions drawn at the end of the article, I would like to focus on one: the need for diversification in degrees that focus on foreign language acquisition. Perhaps the solution lies in creating Applied Languages Studies that specialize in different fields (economics, law, science, etc.) with Translation and Interpreting Studies offered exclusively as a postgraduate program. With this structure, students would enter the Translation and Interpreting postgraduate program with a specialized background, increasing their chances of integrating more smoothly into the labor market.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank both professors for writing this article, for their efforts in trying to understand the expectations of Translation and Interpreting Studies students, and for drawing attention to the challenges—and also the potential!—that Translation and Interpreting Studies programs face by the way they are designed today.

To see the Spanish version, please click here. To see the original post that inspired this discussion, please see here (comments section).

As always, we’d love to hear about your experience. Are you a young translator? What were your thoughts as you entered the translation industry, fresh out of the academic world? What were some of the challenges you faced, and how did you overcome them?

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