Over the last 20 years, universities have grappled with the rapid evolution underway in a wide range of decisions forcing faculties to rethink and revamp curricula to better prepare graduates for the job market. Translation studies and translator training have not been spared. Lucky for me, every semester, working professionals willingly step up and give my students a clearer idea of what their futures as translators might be.
Technological innovation, the globalization of world markets, and production and profit models in the translation field have changed rapidly and radically in the last 20 years. Indeed, once considered an art or a craft, translation now forms part of a wider, ever more diverse language industry.
As a result, the skills translators need to flourish as professionals have also changed, forcing translation faculties to revise their course offering and professors to continually refresh course content. While the core curriculum has remained fairly stable, courses that introduce students to IT tools have been added. And, at Université de Montréal, students are also encouraged or, in the context of some programs, required to take a professional realities course. As might be expected, the course content changes yearly in an effort to keep pace with current events.
Since 2010, I have been teaching the professional realities course at least once a year. I also taught Langues et mondialisation, another course rooted in current events and updated every semester. As hard as I might try, my research and professional experiences can only go so far. So, every time I teach, I send out an SOS to my professional colleagues, invite them to visit and share their experiences and perceptions with my students. And every year, they answer the call.
This year, Fabien Coté, president of Trans-IT, shared his take on the profession as both a certified translator and a small business owner deeply concerned about the public image of translators and translation. A long-time member of the Association des conseils en gestion linguistique, he discussed the organization’s newest initiative designed to encourage translation buyers to do business with members of the professional order of translators. Fabien, a former student, has been visiting my class for years.
Traductions Serge Bélair, a well-established, medium-sized and growing translation business in Montreal, also visits my class yearly. For the second time, Yves Desroches represented the company. Head of the company’s training program, he insisted that curiosity and a good dose of humility should be part of every translator’s skill set.
Representatives from SDL gave students an idea of how a full-service language provider (FSP) —a relatively new, IT-driven model characterized by its sheer size—functions. Unable to attend as she has in the past, Solja Kuningas, the director of translation services, sent two trusted colleagues: Josée Legault and Émile Arsenault to speak to the class.
Although cost considerations have driven many companies to outsource linguistic services, some still maintain in-house teams. Georges Clermont and Carole Maillette, from TD Bank, and Sylvie St-Germain, from Avon, explained how their translation teams worked.
Like Fabien Côté, Réal Paquette is deeply invested in translator accreditation. As the president of OTTIAQ, he visits my class to share his experience and perceptions of the translation field, and to give students the down-low on the professional order.
To survive in an increasingly competitive market, all translation services providers—FSPs, SMEs, as well as in-house departments—rely to some extent on a large pool of freelance talent. In fact, the majority of translators currently enrolled in my class will wind up, willingly or not, as freelancers. While some find the prospect exhilarating, others are a tad more reticent. By sharing their experiences and fielding questions, Louise Carrier and Martin Beaulieu probably put some of their fears to rest.
Louise and Martin are seasoned freelancers with strikingly different career paths and approaches to the practice of translation. For example, Louise has a masters in theology, a degree that led her to translation. Very involved in translator organizations, she has pursued additional translation training over the years to sharpen her innate skills. To date, she hasn’t felt the need to adopt CAT tools but is quite willing to explore them should the need arise.
Martin has a bachelor’s degree in translation and a masters in comparative literature. He also spent some time abroad teaching English. Not intimidated in the least by IT, he uses a range of CAT tools, some off-the-shelf, some proprietary, on a daily basis.
There’s a saying (whose provenance is hotly debated) that goes like this: It takes a village to raise a child. In my experience, it takes a network of caring professionals to train a translator. Over the years, and this year is no exception, a veritable army of working professionals have donated their time and energy to help me prepare my students for a tough job market. They play a critical role in translator training and enrich the course content immeasurably, and I can never thank them enough.