LIFELONG LEARNING: HOW DO I KEEP UP TO DATE TO PROVIDE CUTTING-EDGE QUALITY LANGUAGE SERVICES
You never stop learning – that is certainly true in general, and especially for a professional translator and interpreter. Translation and interpreting, when done right, are crafts that require a solid technique and on-going fine-tuning: every new project comes with new terminology to learn and ever-evolving technology brings new opportunities and challenges to our profession – if 2020 taught us anything, is that we are ever more reliant on technology and embracing it fast enough can make all the difference to our business.
This is why, since the very beginning of my career as a freelance Italian translator and Italian interpreter in the UK, I have constantly looked for ways to refine my translation and interpreting skills along with resources to stay up to date with the latest trends of the sector in order to provide consistent high-quality Italian translation and Italian interpreting services. Here are four ways I have selected to offer cutting-edge professional language services in London and the rest of the UK.
I. Becoming a member of professional associations
I am an affiliate member of the Institute of Translation and Interpreting and between 2017 and 2020 I sat on the committee of the Yorkshire Translators and Interpreters regional group. This allows me to regularly receive the association’s bulletin with articles written by the leading experts of our profession on the latest trends and new technologies, but most importantly ITI and YTI provide webinars, live events and CPD courses focussed on various aspects of the profession; some of the most enriching in which I took part can be found further below so keep reading!
II. Attending a minimum of 40 hours of CPD a year
This is the minimum requirement of the association I belong to and I have fulfilled it every year since I started offering my Italian translation and interpreting services in London and around the country. I have attended seminars and workshops on marketing translation, interpreting technologies and editing techniques, but I also take matter in my own hands: since 2017, I have co-organised the Leeds EN/IT practice week, where interpreters from all over Europe meet and practice interpreting together for an entire week, exchanging best practices and tricks of the trade. Some of the most enriching CPD courses and webinar I attended include:
Interpreting for Football: as one of my main specialisms is European football, I really could miss this one! Organised by Playall in Rome, this day-long course gave the attendees a behind-the-curtain look at what interpreting for football entails: the preparation and prior knowledge needed, the various settings where the interpreter is needed as well as how to work side-to-side with football stars and managers – there was even time for some football-focused interpreting practice!
The Write Stuff: organised by the Cymru Wales regional group, this three-session course allowed me to focus on my written English. Working alongside English native colleagues, we analysed how to make our writing ‘sing’ and how to produce a faithful translation that goes beyond simply relaying the meaning of the original. An invaluable experience that made me reflect on my writing skills and how to leverage them to offer a top quality translation service.
Revision and Editing workshop: organised by the YTI, this half-day course confirmed what I had suspected for a while – revision, of one’s or someone else’s work, is a crucial and often overlooked part of the translation workflow. We talked about strategies to revise efficiently with a final hands-on collaborative revision exercise. It definitely helped me honing my revision skills and work on a revision to-do list, which I now always implement to anything I revise: my own Italian translations and copywritten articles, other colleagues’ works, and all my social media content.
Understanding your voice: as an Italian interpreter in the UK, looking after my voice is one of my main priorities. Working long hours in the booth at a live event or interpreting at hybrid events over Zoom and other platforms directly from my home office desk can take a toll on the voice, which has to be properly taken care of with exercises and the right breathing techniques. Technical aspect aside, the voice is a powerful tool that interpreters have to master in order to convey the message they’re interpreting: it’s not just about words – tone and intonation are key elements a professional interpreter has to master to be effective and provide an excellent language service. I’ve double up on this attending the ‘Meeting the vocal challenges of online interpreting with Ailsa Gudgeon’ session at the beginning of 2021 and I am looking forward to address this more in depth in the coming months: stay tuned for more!
III. Attending at least a professional conference a year
Conferences are the best opportunity for professional interpreters and translators to widen their understanding of the profession, learning from colleagues and getting an insight of the latest trends in interpreting and translation – that is exactly why I try to attend as many as possible, and I have found the Conference on Quality in Simultaneous Interpreting in Granada (201) and the ITI Conference in Sheffield (2019) especially important for my professional development. Thanks to the TerpSummit online event I have already ticked off 12 hours of CPD for 2021, attending three half-days of presentations and CPD opportunities ranging from remote simultaneous tech and best practices to yoga and pilates for interpreters.
IV. Practicing with colleagues and personal study
This might sound odd to those outside the field, but we translators and interpreters take deliberate time to sit down and practice our skills. I personally find this extremely important, especially for interpreting: like a good colleague of mine put it, interpreting is like riding a bike – if you have not done it for a while, you start to get rusty. As conferences don’t happen every single day, interpreters use a host of resources to practice with speeches and keep their interpreting technique in tip-top shape, oftentimes practicing with colleagues to receive feedback on their performance; now that the world has moved online, I attend the IBPG and PIPS sessions on a weekly basis, which allows me to fine-tune my skills in all my working languages (Italian, English and Spanish), as well as practicing with French to add it to my combination – after attending a French course for three years, I have recently switched to 1-2-1 lessons tailored to adding vocabulary, strengthening my listening skills with a bit of French-Italian translation thrown in the mix.
Regularly listening to the news in Italian, English, Spanish and French, as well as specialist podcasts in my areas of expertise are other ways I stay on top of current affairs and new trends I need to be aware to offer well informed and factually accurate translations, but I don't shy away from reading specialised publications either.
It’s not plain sailing, but looking after my on-going training and professional development allows me to offer the best quality possible when it comes to my Italian translation, interpreting and copywriting services: I know how to handle projects in the best way possible, from finding (or knowing already) the appropriate terminology to formatting the document according to client’s or publication’s need. This also allows me to build a 360° professional profile, adding services enabled by new technological development, such as remote interpreting, or new skills I developed, such as copywriting.
Ultimately, this also helps me to better pinpoint my flaws – let’s be honest, nobody is perfect – and act accordingly during the revision process or deliberately practicing to overcome the issue(s) in the long run, relying on expert advice from colleagues and professionals.