Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Has the individual chartered status review by CIoL produced the goods?

In 2012 I wrote a blog post asking: Is individual chartered status working for our profession?  It was the most popular posts I have ever written and it elicited many comments. Two and a half years later I can announce that the review I called for has taken place. And for the better!

Instead of trammeling applicants into a narrow field of work (translating, interpreting or education) now, the scheme allows a professional linguist who performs all of these diversified tasks (and others) to apply on the basis of their varied professional work.

Many translators were put off from applying because they did not translate a sufficiently high number of words, simply because they spent time interpreting or teaching, or in some other activity. That rule has been relaxed.

Others were put off by the expense of the application and interview process. The review team has addressed that issue as well by reducing the application fee to just £50.

As from today, all that is required to join the band of Chartered Linguists is:

  • At least two years’ membership of CioL (or as a Fellow)
  • To be in regular professional practice at the requisite level
  • An engagement in CPD on a regular basis. 

As someone pointed out on TransNet today, chimney sweeps and heating engineers are accredited by their appropriate bodies. Here in Sussex local tradesmen register with Checkatrade, which ensures they are of good character. That way their clients know that they are dealing with someone who is not a cowboy and will do a good job. So I find it quite strange that there still appears to be resistance to applying for the new CL status. Ordinary membership (or fellowship) of the Institute is not enough. It does not certify that the member is in regular practice, nor does it show that the member is keeping up with trends and language skills. An extra level is required. And that level is Chartered status. 

I quote from the recently updated CioL website:

“The purpose of the Chartered Linguist (CL) scheme is to ensure  that users of language services and employers have access to a comprehensive, verified and up to date source of  qualified, practising and experienced professional linguists with a demonstrated commitment to Continuing Professional Development (CPD).  The CL register is held by CIOL in the public interest. Chartered Linguists must therefore be able to demonstrate their competence as a professional linguist, based on a combination of their qualifications, past experience and current practice,  and their commitment to  maintaining their skills and knowledge through continuing professional development.”

I believe that this new revised scheme is what we have been waiting for. It’s no longer so expensive, no longer so restrictive, and it is very much more flexible. All members of the Institute should consider applying for it – and applying for it now while the application fee is waived for the first month. We need to start a momentum of applications and we should start it now until we have large numbers on the register which can then be used as a marketing tool, rather like our Checkatrade scheme does. It won't happen in a day, but we need to start it off.

For the moment it is restricted to members and fellows of the CioL. I am not privy to the reasons for this, but once the pilot has rolled out, it may well be extended to all linguists working in the UK and beyond.

I believe we should applaud the Institute for the work they do on our behalf, and I abhor the negativity that seems to abound on the translators’ discussion forum run by that same Institute.

Will you be applying? I will be applying to regain the status of which I was so proud.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Are you ready to boost your career with eCPD?

New Term at eCPD

Did you attend our "Kick-Off" event on 2nd September? Don't worry if you couldn't make it. You can download the slides here.skills
Lucy Brooks, Managing Director of eCPD, outlined the exciting programme of events already arranged for the 2014 -15 autumn and winter season, and mentioned others in the pipeline.

She also explained some money-saving options for translators and interpreters wishing to hone their skills, knowledge and expertise in their profession.
eCPD will be represented at a number of forthcoming conferences and language events and Lucy Brooks will be presenting workshops at two of these. Full details are on the slides.

During the webinar Lucy asked people what they thought about seminars and courses by webinar. After four years (and eCPD celebrates its birthday this week), and with so many copy-cats on the scene, she wants to make eCPD webinars more interactive with a lot of participation from the audience. This could be enhanced use of question times, polls, suggestions during workshops, and also with the aid of cameras before a webinar begins. In fact most people did not agree with Lucy that webinars had become rather impersonal, but nevertheless, eCPD is trying very hard to introduce more ways of interacting with attendees to improve the already high quality of the training it provides.

Continuing professional development is vital for all professionals in the language industry. Without it we stand still and never develop. The world never stands still. Nor should we.

Here are just a few of this season's events. There really is something for everyone here!

The Price is Right on 9th September.
Next Level Business Bootcamp for established translators. 3 parts, starting Monday 8th September.
IntelliWebSearch course starting on 6 October.
Going Freelance, NervousShort course on 8 and 15 October for new freelance translators
Ironing Out MemoQ course starting on 9 October.
The Perils of Translating International Contracts on 16 October with the acknowledged expert in the field.

For the rest of the programme, click here.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Results of our summer survey

98% satisfaction

In our survey 98 percent of respondents who attended at least one training event said that the webinar(s) they had attended were all, or mostly, great and that they learned from them.
Miss the survey? You can still review us here.

A huge thank you to everyone who took the time and trouble to fill in our survey during July and August. We have closed it now and this is a summary of the results.

At eCPD we try very hard to implement your proposals and suggestions. Many of the things you wanted us to consider are already in the pipeline, and we are open-minded about the rest. Why not tune into our Kick-off on September 2nd to see what we have in store for next term.

Summary of results
89 people responded.  Most (84%) had attended at least one webinar, with nearly 40% being frequent eCPD clients.

We asked you to give us some ideas of future topics
There were many suggestions, some of which have already been covered, and in those cases, we are considering updating and building on past events. There were some great ideas and Lucy will follow these up and try to line up excellent experienced trainers in the fields you suggest.

Ideas included: translating in IT, telecommunications, micro-electronics, webinars in specific
language pairs, genetics, finance, website translation, courses for interpreters, wine, veterinary medicine, more transcreation events, the education sector, nature conservation, cardiology  – the list is as long and varied as an undergraduate course list. There was also a clear desire for us to go more in-depth into subjects for which we have already provided an introduction.

Language pairs
We found that the most frequent language pair (with English) among the respondents was French (46.5%) followed by Spanish and German. Other languages were of course represented but in small numbers. We often consider running webinars in other languages but we do need them to be commercially viable. That's why most of our events are language-neutral. If we do not offer anything in your specific pair, you will probably find that most national professional organisations run their own programmes of events.

Length of training sessions
We asked you how long you like each separate session to be. The majority opted for an hour to 90 minutes as being the most time that was affordable out of a busy day – or indeed to concentrate on a difficult subject.  But respondents were clear that it would really depend on the content and type of seminar.

We then asked how important accreditation from professional bodies is to you. We asked because we are currently negotiating with the two main bodies in the UK for overall accreditation of our webinars and courses. Our training events are already individually approved by ATA and ITI. The new accreditation schemes are likely to come into being next year.

Seventy-seven percent of respondents said that accreditation by a recognised body was fairly important or extremely important. The rest felt that it didn’t really matter to them.

Mix and match, or full course
The sixth question asked whether you like to attend a complete course of, say, 4 lessons, or to be able to choose which ones out of the course you’d like to attend. Obviously this depends on the course. There are some where you really do need to attend every lesson to benefit, but others are very easy to split into discrete sessions. Since the majority wished to have the option to pick out certain sessions, we will continue to arrange courses on these lines, unless the content requires otherwise. We believe that this will help some translators and interpreters to juggle small budgets.

Overall satisfaction
We were very happy with the results of the next question. We asked what you thought about the general standard of eCPD Webinars. A gratifying 98 percent of those who had attended at least one training event said that all or most of the webinars they had attended were great and that they learned from them. 

Comments to this question included a request for lots of interactivity in workshop-style webinars (we are working on that!). And we especially like the person who said “There is no other word for it but excellent!"

Finally we asked about the cost of our training courses

Nobody thought we pitched our prices too low (who would?), but 96.5% felt it was just about right. Only a few said our prices were too high.
We haven’t altered the price of a standard “one-off” webinar for some time, but the cost of the courses do vary a bit depending on the trainer, the content and whether it includes a written assignment or other interaction with the attendee. But we usually have different pricing regimes so that you can pick and mix according to your budget and available time.

We are very aware of translators’ and interpreters’ budgets when it comes to planning CPD. However you should be aware that we at eCPD spend many many hours planning and organising these events, and our overheads can run quite high. We will not vastly increase our prices next year, but the prices will have to increase a little in line with the current (very low) inflation rate.

Some unsolicited comments we received

"Thank you for everything you provide!"

"Keep up the good work, thanks."

"I think the price is fair for what they are."

"Packed with information, good value considering experience packed in"

"For FIFPL funding in France your courses needed to fit the required structure."

"I think the webinars are very good value for money, and appreciate this very much. A small increase in the price would not deter me from participating"

"It would be better if we could have access to the recording for unlimited time"

Apropos that last comment, in fact access to recordings for those who purchased a seat at the live webinar actually lasts up to a year on the Gotowebinar host. However we prefer you to watch them within 3 months in case there is an issue with storage space.
We will consider extending the standard period during which you can view an on-demand webinar, but as many of you already know – we can extend access in special circumstances such as illness or similar.

Although the survey is now closed, if you wish to comment further, please do so below, or write a review.

Again, thank you to everyone who responded and to all our eCPD customers.

Lucy at eCPD Webinars

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Getting started on the freelance translator’s ladder of success

As a language graduate with a university education behind you, you can believe that you are all set for a career as a freelance translator or interpreter. But this may be far from the truth. In today’s economic climate where in-house jobs are scarce, many translators decide to go freelance straightaway. Yet excellent translators can flounder in the business world of marketing, commerce, credit control, and price negotiation.

eCPD Webinars can help newly qualified translators to get their business started by answering questions such as: How do I set up my business? What equipment do I need? Where do I find my first clients? How do I gain that crucial first experience?

eCPD’s Lucy Brooks has done a great deal of research in this area and eCPD Webinars now has a range of online events aimed at translators just starting out on their careers.

Starting out in business as a translator 
The options are set out on a special ‘Starting out’ tab on the website. From that page you can also download a free spreadsheet which will help you work out your costs and what you need to earn to make a living. There is even a £10 discount if you purchase 3 webinars from this page.

Advice is given either in the form of a recorded webinar or a future event. These include business advice, advice on the tools you need to work with, on marketing your services and on writing a CV that will work.
And in October 2014 Lucy joins freelance translator Lloyd Bingham in a double webinar to help you through those first difficult months or years. They will tackle the practical and legal aspects that must be considered before you start: business structures*, funding, taxation, finding your first clients and setting your rates, as well as the administrative procedures you need to put in place for smooth management. We will delve into some recommendations for efficient marketing, equipment, and financial planning and will offer many resources for further investigation.  The second session will look at further aspects that are not taught on any MA course, such as what qualities a freelance translator requires, how to gain that crucial initial experience and break the cycle of needing experience to get work, but needing work to get experience. We will also look at how to promote yourself, using your CV, social media and a website or blog.

*Please note that the first session will concentrate heavily on the situation in the United Kingdom. Attendees in other countries will still gain from it in general terms, but should be aware of this restriction.

Business School
If you want more in-depth marketing and business training look no further than the Business School for Translators. This is a 5 and a half hour intensive course to show you how to plan your career, run your business, work with agencies, find direct clients and give you an insight into marketing techniques. The next course starts on June 3rd. But hurry, at the time of writing places were going fast.

Advanced Business School
More advanced practitioners may find Marta’s advanced Boot Camp in September 2014 will boost business and enhance their careers. Watch this video to find out more.

And a FREE taster of all this

On Friday 6th June Lucy Brooks will be giving a free webinar on starting out as a translator. Anyone thinking of starting out is welcome to attend. It will offer some sound advise and will also showcase eCPD's programme. If you want to attend, sign up here.

 Communication is our future
Our global economy needs good translators. The translation industry is growing. The pressures are very great and some will flounder without good guidance. Translators who produce high quality work just need to get their first high-quality clients to sail off on the start of a successful career. eCPD can help you over the first hurdles.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Legal Translations? If you are a translator working in any legal context, this post is for you

If you are a professional translator you have probably been asked at some time to tackle legal texts. Did you feel ready to translate that contract? Or did you fully understand the background to that claim made in court? If not, then help is at hand.

Three categories of on demand CPD for legal translators

eCPD’s legal training courses and webinars have proved invaluable to many translators all over the world. There are courses to suit every level of experience and every pocket. I have viewed every single one of them and have categorised them for you. The categories I chose are: a) starting out in legal translation, b) top-up knowledge for the more experienced legal translators, and c) legal translation in specific language pairs.

Category a) Starting out in legal translation.
Specialising in Legal Translation with Ricardo Martinez explains to newcomers how specialising in legal translation can be a lucrative move. He discusses how to get into the field, and shows examples of documents for translation, the main features of legal English, while also touching on some practical problems. Cost. £15 + VAT for EU customers. More information…

French legal terminology for real estate, copyright law, public international law. Live webinar series starting on 22nd May 2014. Trainer, Suzanne Deliscar. During these three webinars you will learn - in context with examples given – French and English terms in these three separate fields of law. Cost USD50 (approximately £29.73) per session, to include a marked written assignment if you do the entire course. More information…

Category b) Top-up knowledge for the more experienced legal translator

eCPD has run a series of webinars on Understanding English Law with David Hutchins of Lexacom. Topics covered include:
Two further sessions on Family Law and Wills and Probate will be added very soon.
Each of these webinars lasts over an hour and each is full of information about the legal system in England and Wales. Attendees should be aware that the law in Scotland differs from that in England and Wales.

International Contracts: eCPD has invited Ken Adams, the world's leading expert on International Contracts, to talk about the Perils of Translating such contracts. Ken will talk about the confusion created by traditional contract language, which has the potential to waste a lot of time and money and cause companies to expose themselves to unnecessary risk. He will also talk about how

Category c) Specific language-based legal translation
In June 2014 eCPD eCPD invited Angela Sigee and Richard Delaney, two highly experienced legal translators and teachers of legal translation in the German-English language pair, to teach this specially designed course for translators and interpreters working from and into German. The course is in three modules, the first two covering the legal context and German institutions, along with sources and applications, focussing on linguistic issues of relevance for translators and interpreters. Modules 2 and 3 are practical translation modules, one into German and the other into English. Full information is available from the eCPD website.


An excellent 3-part course on translating legal texts between Arabic and English was held earlier in 2014. This course is now available for instant streaming, along with the materials provided during the live course. The recordings are exactly the same as the course lessons, but any texts translated by students purchasing the streamed version will not be reviewed. More information on our website at the link above.

eCPD Webinars teamed with Lucja Biel, the highly acclaimed expert in Legal Translation into and from Polish, to present a webinar on translating legal texts from and into Polish. The objective of the webinar is to raise awareness of legal translation problems, language problems in English-Polish translation and to learn strategies for dealing with them. The webinar was conducted in Polish with interaction both in English and Polish.

In this webinar Gwen Clayton, a freelance translator and lawyer who has worked in London and Tokyo, focuses on translating Japanese contracts. She points out some of the common features in Japanese legal agreements which may cause difficulty, outlines some of the most common types of agreement requiring translation, and also highlight some of the differences between the British legal system and theirs, along with some of the common pitfalls for the legal translator.

We hope you find something in our line-up of legal webinars. Next week I will focus on webinars and courses for translators just starting out on their freelance careers.


Tuesday, 15 April 2014

How eCPD webinars and courses see the light of day.

It’s no easy matter to put on a top quality CPD (continuing professional development) session for translators or interpreters. At eCPD we deal with very discerning customers. They are translators and interpreters at every level of experience and expertise and they expect to see high-quality training and CPD. eCPD makes great efforts to cater for everyone, of whatever experience level.

Identify topic …
The first step that we take is to identify what language professionals want and need by reading our customers’ feedback and suggestions, scanning blogs and Twitter feeds, and keeping up-to-date with the latest trends.

…and qualified trainer
Having identified a topic, the next task is to find a qualified trainer. That is not always easy. While many of our speakers are professional trainers, we often find that the best trainer is a practising linguist who has become expert in a particular field. Often such people have not considered teaching others what they know. Our first task is to identify the right person. The second is to help them put together an interesting, challenging, and valuable CPD session. We usually approach such experts well in advance of the potential webinar or course, to give them plenty of time to put together their presentation.

Schedule date and time
Our task then is to schedule a date and time. This is not always easy because our customers are located all over the world. Courses held in the morning here in the UK are usually too early for most people in the US, but by the afternoon in the UK, Australian translators tend to have retired for the night. We consider the interest level in each of the zones before setting a time. We believe that it is best to attend every webinar live, but we recognise that sometimes it is impossible: last minute urgent jobs, a sick child, wrong timing. And that is why every session is recorded.

Telling our customers
Once the event is scheduled on our webinar platform, we start the marketing process. We create
registration and payment buttons for our website, and ensure that each event is published on our calendar of events. Courses are also allocated a separate and permanent page of their own. The registration and payment processes are semi-automated for customers, but issuing the confirmation and receipt are manual operations.

Mailing list
eCPD maintains an active mailing list using contact management and email marketing software. The software ensures that only people who really want our newsletter will receive it. Every couple of weeks we send out a newsletter containing news of our upcoming webinars and courses. We also make sure that every newsletter contains at least one industry story as well as some helpful links for translators and interpreters. Readers can opt to receive reminders of every event, about a week before each event is due to take place. Around half of the people on our list have chosen to receive these. Busy translators appreciate these timely reminders. Readers can unsubscribe at any time.

Engaging with our audience
The staff at eCPD keep our customers engaged in other ways too. The company has an active Facebook fan page with (at the time of writing) over 850 likes. The feeds on Facebook and Twitter (over 1100 followers follow @ecpdwebinars) keep industry-watchers up to date with blogs, conference news, amusing language-related stories, and our own events of course. We also curate a collection of useful links for translators in a variety of fields on ScoopIt.

Administrative procedures
As bookings for a new event arrive, the back office is kept busy ensuring that everyone has their confirmations, and that every sale is entered into the accounts system, with a receipt sent to the purchaser.

As the date of a webinar approaches, activity increases as we contact the speaker to ascertain content,
length, audience interaction, graphics, and to arrange a rehearsal. Even with seasoned speakers we always hold a rehearsal to ensure that the webinar software is running correctly and the sound system is good. Audio is the area where we experience most problems and until we hold a rehearsal we cannot work out what those problems might be. We usually have everything sorted out before the big day, but there has been at least one occasion when the audio was not as good as might be expected. Nevertheless, it was sufficient to broadcast. Bearing in mind all the parameters at work during a live event – PC configurations, microphone, local broadband quality, transmission between servers, even external noise – the quality we achieve is amazing. I still get a thrill when a speaker from the other side of the world logs in and the sound is as if from the next room.

Webinar day
On the day of the webinar, we are kept busy with last-minute bookings. Last registrations are supposed to be received 2 hours before we start but we very often receive bookings just a few minutes before. Unfortunately, since we are already on-line by then, we sometimes do not see them in time to allow entry to the event, but we do try to accommodate such requests if we can.
Two members of eCPD staff always log on to every event around 20 minutes before the scheduled time and speakers are asked to arrive 15 minutes before. This gives us time to make last-minute sound checks, hand over the controls to the speaker, and ensure that everything is ready.
eCPD webinars and training courses always start on time – unless some emergency has occurred such as a power cut. As we start the broadcast, our job now is to introduce the speaker, run any polls and then moderate the question and answer session at the end.

Most of our events last for an hour, but we can often run over. Some course lessons last for 90 minutes. We find that people tend to lose concentration in longer sessions, and many people simply cannot afford much more time from their busy working days, so it is rare for one of our sessions to run longer than 90 minutes.

After the webinar is over our work still is not done. We have to check and upload the recording. We always make a back-up recording just in case, which is why we always have two members of staff at every webinar. Finally, we circulate any handouts or other materials to attendees, thank the presenter, and deal with any unanswered questions from the session. We then ensure that the event is available on our library of past events by uploading the recording to our streaming service and creating a new product page.

Customer assistance
Our work does not end there. Maia, our customer services director, is always on hand to help first-time attendees with technical problems and has never failed to solve such issues.

An eCPD webinar represents real value for money
As you can see, many hours of work go into each and every one of our events: from concept to delivery and follow-up. eCPD represents real value for every seat at a webinar or on a course you book. The personal service every customer receives is very much appreciated by our fans.

The team
Lucy Brooks, Managing Director
responsible for finance, marketing,
webinar content and direction, policy

Maia Figueroa, Customer Services Director, responsible
for webinar content and direction, customer services, and the library

Jessie Doppler, Associate, responsible for social media,
provides additional support when necessary