Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Will on-line webinar* training ever replace face-to-face seminars?

The short answer has to be a firm “no”. When I started running webinars* over three years ago now, it was never my intention to usurp the important role played by training and information sessions in a classroom, seminar room or conference setting. Nothing can replace the immediate interaction with the speaker, the lunchtime chats with colleagues, or that exchange of views (and business cards) over a coffee at break-time.

But there was a definite and crying need for an extra arrow to add to the quiver of good continuing professional development (CPD) offered by professional institutes, universities, and commercial enterprises.

Translators are a mixed lot. Many of us work from home because we love the independent life-style that free-lancing provides. Some live a long way from any city centre; many care for children and/or elderly relatives. Family commitments and too much work often make it difficult to get away from the office.

Webinars are a quick and easy way of keeping totally up to the minute on every aspect of a translator’s life without leaving home or office. The only equipment needed is a reasonable PC or Mac and a good broadband connection. Many events, such as those provided by CAT tool vendors, are free. Professional organisations such as ITI and ATA have been putting on webinars (through eCPD) at reasonable cost for a couple of years now, and since 2010 eCPD Ltd (my company, I declare an interest here) has run dozens of webinars for translators and interpreters. We have covered subjects from Terminology Management to PDF files, from Translation Techniques to Chemistry for Translators. For a full list of webinars coming up later this year see this link, and most of our past webinars are now available on demand. Some eCPD webinars are free. For the sake of fairness, I mention also that ProZ offers a programme of training webinars too.

Seats at a webinar are very reasonably priced, usually at £20 (about $31 or €25), and anyone worried about not being able to make the live session can be assured that a recording will be made available afterwards for viewing as often as desired@ at no extra charge.

Once they have got to grips with the fact that they cannot actually see their audience, our speakers have reported that they have greatly enjoyed the experience of talking to attendees who may be logging in from Peru, Australia, Russia, or Taiwan. They find it exciting and exhilarating. Webinars also make it possible to draw on the expertise of experts based in many different parts of the world, the USA, Australia, France and Spain, for example.

Attendees appreciate the fact that we try to keep the cost of webinar places as low as possible. At eCPD Webinars we are translators ourselves and know that the translators budgets for CPD are often tight. My colleagues and I are aware of what translators and interpreters are asking for and try to provide training and information on topics that translators want.

Some of the most popular webinars have been the “Specialising in … “ series. These include sessions on financial translation, legal translation, medical translation, sub-titling and many others. We are currently planning a session on “specialising in technical translation” for the new year.

This autumn sees a new venture – a series of language-specific translation workshops (German, French and Spanish in both directions). If these prove popular (and seats are strictly limited to ensure that we can keep to the workshop format), we will try some other language combinations.

I make no apology for promoting eCPD Webinars in this blog. I strongly believe that attending webinars – from whichever provider you choose - forms an important part of a translator’s portfolio of reasonably priced continuing professional development (continuing education) – especially when travelling to on-site training is difficult. After all, that’s why I started eCPD Webinars in the first place!

And remember: "It's what we learn after we know it all that really counts." (Quips and Quotes by E.C. McKenzie ).

Webinar: a seminar presentation or workshop made available via the Internet.
·      @ For a minimum of 90 days

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Conference on education and CPD for translators and interpreters - and some excellent blog links for new translators

When I started this blog I decided to aim it principally at new translators as well as at those practising translators who are looking for some low-cost ideas to brush up their language and technical skills.

Today I have news of a translation conference to be held this November at Portsmouth University (on the south coast of England). This annual conference often deals with pretty academic topics, but this year’s conference, the 12th, is on a much more practical (for me anyway) level. Presentations are likely to include talks on CPD, online training, training the trainer, the role of professional organisations, and of professionals within the translation industry, educating the client, and many more. All are topics very close to my heart. The title of the conference is 'Those Who Can, Teach': Translation, Interpreting and Training. The date is 
10 November 2012 and it will take place in the Park Building in the centre of Portsmouth. Registrations are not yet open so I cannot tell you what the cost will be but I can say that in the past it has always been very reasonable. (Last year the fee was £40 for a very full day of presentations, with generous discounts for students. It even included lunch!) The conference is sponsored by Routes into Languages among others.

One of the sessions is entitled Progressing your Career without Breaking the Bank and it will cover the need for CPD, keeping CPD records, finding good quality, yet low cost, CPD that works, and the need to reflect on achievements. The speaker will be … me.

That brings me neatly to ways in which very experienced practitioners can add valuable points to their own CPD records. CPD is not just about absorbing information, but passing it on too. Many of my colleagues throughout the world are more than generous with their advice and help. They dedicate hours of time to writing blogs and researching information which they willingly pass on to colleagues. That time is entered onto their annual CPD records.

Here are some wonderful such blogs and websites for new translators to get started with:

Thoughts on Translation. This blog, by translator Corinne McKay in the USA, concentrates on translation and the translation industry. She has also devised an on-line course on Getting Started as a Translator.

From Words to Deeds. This is a great blog if you specialise in legal translation. It describes itself as “building bridges – between academia and practice and between translators and legal professionals” and it is full of information about legal practice and the art of translation within in.

The eCPD Webinars blog contains a number of reviews of past webinars. For future webinars, don’t forget to check out the main eCPD website for future CPD training webinars and workshops, at deliberately low cost for high-quality presentations.

There’s Something about Translation. Sarah Dillon, the author, has been on maternity leave recently so hasn’t been updating her blog. But there is a wealth of valuable information relating to CPD in the archives.

Signs and Symptons of Translation. This is a relatively new blog by colleague Emma Goldsmith. Her particular niche in the overcrowded blog scene is medical translation, Spanish language terminology and pharma regulatory news.

About Translation.  This blog contains many useful technical tips such as advanced searching in Word and making the most of Google searches.

Translation Times. With her twin sister Dagmar, blog author Judy Jenner wrote and published the Entrepreneurial Linguist.

If you haven’t decided on a CAT tool yet and are wondering what they actually do, visit Translators Training. This website, maintained by Jeromobot, aka Jost Zetzsche, contains 3 hours of free video showing how 20 different tools translate the same Word document.

Lastly, don’t let this blog about Mox – a young and brilliant translator - put you off translation. But this cartoon blog is a lovely way of raising a smile at the end of a busy week.

I hope to see some of you at Portsmouth.

More tips soon.