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What’s the future of translation training?

More than 200 schools are offering training in translation and interpreting studies around the globe. BAs, MAs and Ph.D. programs offer a wide range of content and topics aimed at training professional translators.

However, the profession of the translator is ever-changing and in continuous development due to technological advances, as well as the evolving needs of the industry buying and selling language services.

In particular, Translation Management Systems (TMS) and Machine Translation (MT) have changed the traditional role of the translator. New skills are now required. Today, translation professionals need to understand how they can leverage previous content with translation memories, or how MT engines work. The future of our industry is bound to change. It will probably entail: 

  • More MT and post-editing
  • More project management for the increasing volumes and complex workflows
  • Need for technical writing and creative copywriting
  • Need for culturalization and geopolitical consultancy

Luckily, technology is already part of many translation syllabi. Recently, Michael Stevens and Renato Beninatto discussed the topic of translation technology and education in the Globally Speaking podcast. The question posed was “should localization education ride the technology wave?”

In short, yes, technology is an important part of the curricula but let’s not forget the basics: communication, problem-solving skills, or critical thinking.

Translation is already a very technical profession. That is something that needs to be emphasized, as well as the importance of soft skills and being a good professional. Students are sometimes disappointed because they idealize the job of translating. They picture themselves translating best-selling novels and blockbuster movies, and that’s not what our industry is all about. At least, not entirely.

We need to train professionals who understand that translation is a highly technology-dependent profession and that they will need to be keen on technology, as well as on languages and culture. Otherwise, they run the risk of rapidly becoming obsolete.

Language proficiency in mother tongue and in foreign languages Knowledge of cultures and history CAT tools and Machine Translation Field specializations: legal, financial, medical, audiovisual, etc. Project management and soft skills What's in the translation curricula?

For example, post-editing is already one of the services performed by translation professionals. Students sometimes complain about the mechanical nature of post-editing. However, they need to be aware that this is another source of potential income as translation professionals and that they need to be ready to perform this job. Or if they really don’t like that at all, they should rethink their choice of career.

We need to teach students to be critical and analytical towards the language service industry. They need to put themselves on the clients’ shoes, understand what the language needs are and how they can contribute, either translating, interpreting, postediting, consulting or project managing. What’s the value of their knowledge to society? Translation is much more than just translating. They should keep a finger on the pulse of our industry, and leverage their skills and knowledge to respond to changing trends.

It is important to educate professionals who are flexible and resilient, and who understand that their roles are very likely going to change due to present and future technological advances, and the evolution of enterprises. We need to train professionals who see change as an opportunity, instead of a threat. While the future is bright, more challenges await us. However, the visionary leaders of our industry are being trained today.

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