Sunday, 20 May 2012

How early should you start Continuing Professional Development (CPD, PD, CE)?

My young friend Fraser, aged 11, has just won his STRIPE award. On investigation I found that this is an award given by his school to the pupil in the class who has demonstrated the highest level of personal, learning and thinking skills.

The acronym STRIPE stands for Self-management, Teamworker, Reflective learner, Innovative thinker, Participator, Enquiring learner.

At age 11, Fraser is already well on the road to maintaining his continuing professional development, whatever his career may be in the future – at present  he wants to be an inventor.

Many of the points in the STRIPE programme apply equally well to us in the translation business.

As freelancers it is essential that we manage our time effectively: negotiating with clients, marketing ourselves, carrying out administrative work. And then there’s the little matter of actually doing the translating that earns our fees. Those who manage their time well will emerge the winners.

At eCPD Webinars we have worked with several well-known speakers on these topics. See eCPD Webinars Shop for details.

Translating can be quite lonely. Certainly when I first started I felt very isolated and unsure of myself. Gradually over the years, and as the Internet developed, I was able to join groups of translators in my particular languages and specialist areas. We discuss terminology and cultural issues and the groups are an excellent source of peer support. If you do not already belong to a professional institute (in the UK these would principally be CIoL and ITI) do consider doing so. Not only does it add to your credibility as a translator, but the benefits of membership are endless – including the above-mentioned egroups.

Reflective Learning
Learning should be a lot more than just looking something up for the translation of the moment, or watching a TV documentary out of mild interest.  Last year Janet Fraser gave a wonderful talk on the importance of reflecting on the learning we undertake. From it I developed a new way of presenting my CPD activities.  Rather than simply list what I’ve done, I now categorise the activities, and add a short paragraph about what I gained from them and how they fit in with my plan for the year.

Innovative Thinker
I sometimes find it difficult to move away from my known method of working. I have a way of doing things and I tend to stick to certain areas of knowledge.  But it’s never a bad thing to look at things a little bit differently. Perhaps you might consider introducing a new technique such as post-editing machine translation to your quiver of skills, or entering a new area in which to translate. At eCPD Webinars we have run several “Specialising in …” webinars, including financial and medical.

My young friend Fraser joins in many school and group activities. The pupils raise money for charity, bake cakes, dig the garden. Fraser is often charged with organising many of the activities.  Translators can participate too by volunteering to do something for their professional organisation. It may be as simple as contributing to a discussion on an egroup, or as altruistic as offering to act as a mentor to new translators, standing for election onto the governing body of your professional association, serving on a committee, or organising events, however informal these might be. I currently am organising a lunch for translators in Sussex and in the past have served on the CIoL Translating Division Committee. There are plans afoot for me to become a mentor with ITI.

Enquiring learner
Translators by definition have enquiring minds. We need to know how the machine for which we are translating an application story for the press actually works. We need to know about the latest business news from the multi-national whose reports have just landed on our desk to translate.
To help with Internet searching, eCPD is running a webinar on 29 May 2012 giving plenty of tips as to how to improve your Internetsearching. (Link will expire after 30 May).

And lastly …..
I have just returned from a wonderful holiday in the United States and Canada. It was a very busy, yet relaxing, three weeks. I forgot all about translating, invoices, accounts, keeping up my CPD. I was not called upon to interpret for lost or confused tourists and my Tlingit (the language spoken by the native people of SE Alaska) is not too good. Moreover, the part of Canada I visited (Vancouver) pays only lip-service to French as an official language. I might have said “merci” just once.

Now I am back I find I am less impatient and am moving around more slowly (an improvement on my usual jumpy behaviour). This indicates to me just how important it is to take a real break away from thinking about work – and CPD. To those whose summer holidays are still to come, I wish you every bit of a successful break as mine was.

My next post will continue the theme of ideas for low-cost CPD.

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