Thursday, 16 January 2014

eCPD Webinars – the story so far…..

eCPD Webinars – now a byword for quality online training for translators and interpreters, with courses approved by both ATA and ITI for their continuing professional development programmes - was born in April 2010 from an idea put forward by a committee of translators in London. They were trying to provide good quality training for translators unable to spare the time to travel to the metropolis to attend face-to-face events. There are many reasons why some translators find it hard to attend such training: long distances, childcare commitments, caring responsibilities, the cost of fares and accommodation and time factors to name a few.

Enter online webinars. Following a series of events run on behalf of a professional organisation Lucy Brooks, an established technical and commercial translator, and two other experienced translators (Armando Arias and Anne de Freyman) set up a micro-business, purchased a licence from Gotowebinar and started to facilitate online training for translators. They kicked off with their very first webinar on 9 September 2010 on the subject of “Running Your Own Business” given by an accountant who explained the different ways translators can go into business. That autumn saw plenty more webinars – including a session on IT for freelancers, another on working with agencies, a series on specialising in various fields, and professional conduct for interpreters.

Growing reputation
During its first year, the reputation of eCPD Webinars began  to spread. Attendees were logging in from far afield as Argentina, Australia, Canada, the US, Greece, Egypt and almost every country in Europe. Sadly Armando died of cancer before he had a chance to contribute, but Lucy and Anne worked closely together until Sarah Dillon joined the company, allowing Anne to concentrate on her many other activities. Under Sarah’s expert guidance the company expanded its mailing list and its social media presence. Follower numbers have increased steadily under the framework she set up in 2011.

New blood
In 2012 when Sarah decided to concentrate on other interests, Maia Figueroa, an established translator of fiction and film scripts, joined the company as Customer Services Director and nearly two years later she is still with the company. She is responsible for ensuring that everyone enjoys their online experience to the full.

Lucy Brooks is the Managing Director and deals with the financial side, as well as marketing. The work of actually organising and running the webinars and courses is shared between Lucy and Maia, while Lucy also holds the role of researching new ideas for courses and webinars, with much input from Maia.

eCPD Webinars has arranged online seminars and courses on a huge variety of topics to suit freelance translators and interpreters, ranging from financial planning, editing, website creation, to language workshops. All webinars are recorded and most are available retrospectively from the library of past webinars.

In 2013 eCPD added to its portfolio by also running longer, more in-depth courses. Such courses
have proved extremely popular and include the Business School for Translators, a course for medical translators and another for Arabic legal translators. Legal terminology and practice for German, French and Spanish translators also figure in the programme. A further popular course is a 3-part course on using the IntelliWebSearch Internet search tool. Unlike webinars, the courses are not available retrospectively but are held at intervals throughout the year, or upon demand. Details of other courses to be repeated soon are also available.

Growing up
In its short life eCPD Webinars has become a byword for quality training for translators and interpreters. The small company has forged partnership arrangements with many organisations and personalities, such as the American Translators Association and the Institute of Translation and Interpreting, the Alexandria Project, Marta Stelmaszak’s Business School, Lawyer-Linguist Suzanne Deliscar, and ProTect, and has grown tall since its infant days. The directors were joined recently by Jessie Doppler as an associate to maintain eCPD’s social profile on Twitter and Facebook. Jessie started as an intern in the spring of 2013 and is now a full member of the team. eCPD courses are approved by both ATA and ITI for their continuing professional development programmes.

The future
The company’s aim is to continue to be a byword for quality online training for translators and to remain small, run by just a few people from home-based offices in the UK and Cataluña. eCPD prides itself that it is able to offer a personal service to translators and interpreters.

Lucy Brooks, the Managing Director said: “In eCPD we have a global business and I find this very
exciting. But we are small enough that we can be extremely flexible and adaptable. For example, if someone suggests a suitable topic for a webinar to add to our programme, if I can I will seek out a top speaker and arrange a new training session – often within a couple of weeks”.
The philosophy at eCPD is and will always be to provide exciting, varied and innovative training, to find and work with the best speakers in their fields, and offer top content – all with the aim of furthering the freelance careers of our customers - translators and interpreters all over the world. Said Lucy Brooks: “We will constantly strive to offer the quality and variety of training that freelance language professionals need and deserve.”

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Broken your New Year Resolutions Already?

Don’t worry.

I don’t really believe in starting New Year resolutions on January 1st. There is still too much festive wine in the fridge, too many naughty chocolates to finish up, and too many New Year parties to go to – not to mention Burns Night towards the end of January (even down here in the south of the UK our neighbourhood has an annual haggis and neaps gathering).

A resolution is a firm decision to take action and I really only look at the proposals tabled in my personal debating chamber once the holidays are over. It may take several days or weeks to come to the actual resolution.

So if you haven’t actually made any firm decision yet about how you can improve your career this year, it’s really not too late.

Here’s a resolution that should be on everyone’s table every year
How about making a firm decision to work on your Continuing Professional Development this year?

First let me dispel a few myths.

The cost of courses is very expensive!
CPD does not have to be expensive. It can even be free! And translators have an especially wide field from which to choose to build their own CPD program. It certainly is not necessary to enrol for a second or third degree.

I would have to dedicate several weeks to a course of learning
CPD does not have to be time-consuming. Just an hour a week undergoing a CPD activity from your home, accompanied by the occasional face-to-face event, will keep your skills and knowledge up to date.

CPD isn’t compulsory, so I don’t have to do it.
The translation profession in the UK is not regulated. In theory anyone can set up as a translator, even if they know no languages at all. To differentiate themselves from the dross, serious translators belong to a professional association, have qualified to join that association, and abide by its code of conduct. In signing the code of conduct translators agree to endeavour to undertake continuing professional development, as appropriate, in order that they can continue to offer the highest possible standards of work by maintaining and updating their language skills, subject knowledge, or any other skills or knowledge necessary for their work. (The words here are taken from ITI’s code).

I studied for years at university; I don’t need to do CPD.
In order to keep up with developments in technology, research and legislation everybody in the workplace, whatever their job, needs to undergo a program of constant training and development. If they are employed, their companies will arrange for such training. Freelancers have to arrange their own.

Having resolved to undergo a program of CPD, you now need to plan and organise it.

Plan, identify, organise, record: 
so much to choose from
The key is to decide on a path to follow, identify suitable activities (background reading, learning new software, attending an online course or webinar), carry them out, make notes and learn, and record what you have done. Set yourself goals and do not allow yourself to be deviated from them.

A typical CPD program could be:

January-February: Investigate an improved accounts program to keep better control of unpaid invoices and find out if it is worth registering for VAT.
March-April: Learn about backing up vital translations and programs more efficiently
May-June: Get to grips with a CAT tool
July-August: Practice source language skills
September-October: Hone knowledge within a specialist field
November-December: Learn and put into practice a few marketing tips

In order to fulfill the above, you will not need to spend shedloads of cash or spend weeks on a course away from home. Much of what you need is available free online from government agencies or from vendors or at very reasonable cost from commercial organisations such as eCPD Webinars. I am a great believer is self-training on new software purchased, rather than paying for a course.

eCPD Webinars was set up specifically for translators and interpreters. It provides appropriate, high-quality learning for professional linguists in many areas of the profession. The company runs many online webinars and courses during term-time, which students can attend live, or view later via a recording, and the library of past webinars contains dozens of highly-acclaimed recorded presentations.

eCPD Webinars is designed to form part of your own personal program of CPD, so today’s advice is to browse through the program to find the right mix for you.

(c) 2014 Lucy Brooks, Managing Director of eCPD Webinars