Studying Spanish Translation Through a Canadian Program

24 Jan 2018 11:40 AM | Elise Kruidenier (Administrator)

Written by: Heidi Schmaltz, 2017 NOTIS Scholarship Recipient

Although there are legal requirements in the United States to provide linguistic access in courts, hospitals, and schools, many professionals working in the field of translation and interpretation lack the theoretical orientation that can be gained through formal study. We may be proficient in the languages we use in our profession, but we are not necessarily proficient in the language of our profession itself. A recent NOTIS blog post entitled “Our Neighbo(u)rs to the North” encouraged members to look north for training opportunities, thus addressing this lack of proficiency. I did just that: allow me to share my experience with the Spanish Translation Certificate through UBC Extended Learning.

The certificate program through the University of British Columbia consists of three required online or in-person courses (students in the online program can take one of the three courses in person during the summer). After completing the three required courses, students complete a final translation project. The courses cover a wide variety of topics from literary, medical and legal translation to Spanish writing conventions for specializations such as advertising, marketing and online publications. The first two courses focus on different theoretical approaches to translation, such as dynamic vs. formal equivalence, as well as possible translation strategies based the different approaches. Rather than arguing over which approach is best, students are given the opportunity to explore the pros and cons of each. This was refreshing and transformative. Students view translation through Amaro Hurtado Albir’s categories (2001), which label interpreting and its various modes as a modality of translation. The translation strategies learned are extremely relevant to interpreting and I would suggest similar training for anyone who works as an interpreter.

After completing the three courses, and now being in the process of finishing my final project, I feel I have obtained a solid level of proficiency in the language of translation. I also discovered many free online glossaries and journals. Here are a few gems that Spanish translators may find useful:

In addition to the helpful new online resources, I was able to learn more about the field of translation and interpretation in Canada. Unlike here in the U.S., working as a translator in Canada often requires credentials beyond a short certificate program. A degree in T&I, certification, and/or at least five years of full-time work experience is often needed for employment. The UBC program meets partial requirements to apply for associate membership on dossier in the Society of Translators and Interpreters of British Columbia. Members are then allowed to sit for the certification exam which is offered yearly. 

While the certificate program covers both translation and interpretation and is strong on theory, I found it to be weaker in the area of ethics and standards for interpreters, specifically. My classmates enjoyed learning about my work as a certified court and medical interpreter in the states. As often happens when borders are crossed, in the case of Canada we have just as much to share from here down south as to learn from our neighbo(u)rs to the north. 


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