The Linguist

The Linguist 52,6

The Linguist is a languages magazine for professional linguists, translators, interpreters, language professionals, language teachers, trainers, students and academics with articles on translation, interpreting, business, government, technology

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FEATURES Translating study into jobs A new scheme offers crucial international work placements to translation students, says Helen Astley Routes into Languages' UK Graduate Placement Scheme1 has been phenomenally successful, with two thirds of translation students being offered a job in the company in which they did their placement. Now the European Graduate Placement Scheme (EGPS),2 funded by the EU Lifelong Learning Programme, is building on that success by providing and accrediting work placements abroad as part of MA Translation Studies programmes. The project is led by the UK cross-sector skills council, Skills CfA, with partner universities in Barcelona, Kraków, Germersheim and Salford. According to Maria Piotrowska from Kraków University, linking study with its professional application is vital, particularly for applied disciplines such as Translation Studies. Yet work-related learning and international placements are still unusual. EGPS partners are now developing programmes that promote the wide range of skills that professional translators need to apply simultaneously and automatically, so that students can develop competence in these areas before they start their work placements. Don Kiraly's students at Johannes Gutenberg Universität (JGU), Germersheim, quickly progress from acquiring basic skills to tackling real tasks in the classroom, and take increasing responsibility for identifying what they need to learn. To avoid taking work from professionals, they choose tasks that would not otherwise be done, such as translating texts on sustainable economics for an NGO. 20 The Linguist With real clients, a brief, deadlines and high standards to be met, all sorts of skills come into play However, for Kiraly, nothing can replace the thrill of tackling authentic projects, and this is where placements come in. By this stage, students are ready for the challenge. With real clients, a role in the team, a brief to negotiate, deadlines and high standards to be met, all sorts of skills come into play to create a powerful learning experience. Chus Fernandez at the University of Salford finds that placements abroad improve not only students' translation skills but also their confidence, awareness of working practices and understanding of the different expectations of companies and customers. Students who have gained real-life experience of the profession are more employable and more likely to find work abroad. Reaping the benefits Employers need students who are work-ready. Bridging the gap between education and employment is essential to the productivity of the European marketplace. Through this DECEMBER 2013/JANUARY 2014 project, employers gain highly motivated students who are keen to learn and bring fresh, creative ideas. Work placements reduce recruitment costs, providing access to potential employees who know how the business works and need little further training. Students keep a learning journal and are supported by a mentor throughout their placement. For the mentor, the process of supporting a trainee may prove to be useful professional development. The latest CBI/Pearson Education and Skills survey3 notes that limited knowledge of languages and cultural awareness is acting as a 'tax on UK trade'. British companies stand to benefit from the EGPS by gaining highly competent communicators in more than one language, who can provide short-term support for their international communication activities. Universities benefit too. As Kiraly highlights, good links with employers help to ensure that courses are relevant to workplace needs. 'Working on the project is helping us to review our own curriculum and reconsider our assumptions about institutional and workplace learning.' EGPS partners have learned from one another through pooling their practice. The University of Salford has received strong interest in the programme from colleagues in other institutions, keen to benefit from the implementation of the scheme across the EU. Finally, important research into placement learning has been conducted for the project by JGU (see for updates).

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