Frequently Asked Questions
You can download the FAQs here or read them below.
FAQs I: General
- I-Q1. Do the Use your language, Use your English training courses provide a full qualification in translation?
I-A1. No. There are many excellent translation courses in the UK and elsewhere which offer a full programme of study. The Use your language, Use your English training courses are intended to give a taste of what good translating is, and we hope that those whose appetite is whetted may think about pursuing their interest further. We would advise anyone wishing to take our exam to get more practice than our courses alone can provide.
- I-Q2. Are the Use your language, Use your English training courses for translation between English and other languages?
I-A2. No. They are only for translation from other languages into English.
- I-Q3. Are the Use your language, Use your English training courses only for translation from the eleven languages listed (Arabic [online course only], Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Swedish)?
I-A3. We set up the programme in 2011 with seven languages plus Editing Skills. For Summer School 2012 we added two languages Polish – and Chinese – and in Summer School 2013 two further languages have been added: Japanese and Swedish (NB all ‘less-widely-taught languages’ are subject, in the Summer School, to a minimum level of 5 students). Chinese and Japanese have also recently been added to the online course, and other languages will follow.
- I-Q4. For whom are the Use your language, Use your English training courses intended?
I-A4. As a training programme initially funded by AHRC for two years (1 November 2010 – 31 October 2012), Use your language, Use your English was targeted at UK postgraduate students, but not only them: it has always been designed for Anglophones in any country with an advanced knowledge of one or more other languages/interest in learning advanced translation and/or editing skills. This is both to show them that there are more things they can do with their languages than they may have thought – perhaps enhancing skills they have tried out but need to improve – and also to encourage more Anglophones to study or learn foreign languages. The idea is both to show that ‘English is not enough’ and to encourage those with native English to use it more skilfully.
- 1-Q5. What modes of study are available within the project?
I-A5. Two modes: you can take the free online course, which is non-interactive and can be taken in your own time; to register, email firstname.lastname@example.org. And you can attend our five-day Summer School – see section IV below – to study face-to-face in central London.
- I-Q6. For whom is the Use your language, Use your English database intended?
I-A6. The database (see section VIII below) will serve two sets of people. The first is those who have qualified, whether through our courses or through other training, to pass our exam and thus to offer advanced translation and editing to non-Anglophone writers who need to produce texts in excellent English. The second set of people are those non-Anglophones, for example academics who need to publish their research in English and who seek either translators (if their English is basic or non-existent) or editors (if their English is fairly advanced) to help them do so. The database should enable these people to find each other easily and reliably.
- I-Q7. How can I apply to Use your language, Use your English?
I-A7. Application for the Summer School and for the exams may only be made through our online booking systems. For Summer School 2013 go direct to the online form: https://www2.bbk.ac.uk/european/. The form to apply for a Summer School bursary is also on the booking form in pdf and word format (closing date 26 April 2013). To apply to take our exam, a similar online booking system has been set up and will reopen soon.
- I-Q8. Where can I get further information?
I-A8. If the answer to your question is not among these FAQs or on other pages of the site, email email@example.com
- I-Q9. How can I give feedback on any aspect of the Use your language, Use your English training courses that I wish to comment on?
I-A9. Feedback forms for Summer School 2013 are available on the web page and will also be handed out at the end of the programme . For the online courses, you will be required to complete a feedback form when you have completed a course. Feedback is extremely important to us, as it helps us both to test and enhance our provision and also to evaluate the effectiveness of the programme when we report to our funders.
FAQs II: Eligibility
- II-Q1. May I take the any of the Use your language, Use your English training courses if I am not a native Anglophone?
II-A1. No. We are unable to accept anyone on these courses (or to take the exam) unless they are a native speaker of English. This is because it is the norm in all areas of professional translation and editing that people only work into their mother-tongue.
- II-Q2. I am a native Anglophone, but not from the UK. Am I eligible?
II-A2. Yes. Any native speaker of English, whether born in the UK or any other English-speaking country, is eligible.
- II-Q3. I am bilingual (from birth) in English and another language. Am I eligible?
II-A3. As long as your higher education was in English and you can write to publication standard in English.
- II-Q4. I am not a student. Am I eligible?
II-A4. Yes: the courses are all open to anyone who is eligible on the grounds of being both a native Anglophone and having another language (or languages) at an advanced level. But you do have to be a student in order to qualify for the student fee at our Summer School, and you will need to include the name and email from your supervisor or tutor to prove this.
- II-Q5. I am already studying/practising translation. Are these courses for me?
II-A5. Yes: the courses are designed to be of interest to those with some translating experience, or a lot, or none. They offer an opportunity to study (whether online or in classes) with leading professional translators whose work you may know and who will share their knowledge and expertise with you.
- II-Q6. How do I qualify to take the online courses?
II-A6. The online courses are open to anyone who is eligible on the grounds of being both a native Anglophone and having another language (or languages) at an advanced level.
- II-Q7. Do I need to have done the Summer School in order to do the online course?
II-A7. No. Each of the two forms of training is free-standing. Those eligible can do one or both.
- II-Q8. Is it better or worse for this programme if I have more than one foreign language?
II-A8. Neither. At the Summer School you can study translation from either one or two languages. With the online courses, you can take as many as you wish and can benefit from. With the exam, you can take it in as many languages as you wish.
- II-Q9. Can I take the course in Editing skills only (either online or at the Summer School), if I do not have even one foreign language at an advanced level?
II-A9. Yes: now that Editing skills is available as a full course at the Summer School, a student can take it without also taking a translation class.
FAQs III: Course Fees
- III-Q1. Are fees charged for all the Use your language, Use your English training courses?
III-A1. Fees are charged for the Summer School but not for the online programme; for Summer School 2013 the full fee is £450 and the student fee is £300. Fees must be paid in sterling at the point of registration through the online booking system.
- III-Q2. How do I qualify to pay for the student fee?
III-A2. You have to be a student (postgraduate or undergraduate) in order to qualify for the student fee, and you will need to include the name and email of your supervisor or tutor in your online application to prove this.
- III-Q3. How do I qualify to be considered for a Summer School 2013 bursary?
III-A3. There is a limited number of bursaries, but these are open to student-fee payers and full-fee payers alike. When you book your place on the Summer School you need to tick the question about bursary application, and complete the Bursary Application form on the website. The closing date for receipt of the form is 26 April 2013. Once complete, the form should be posted to Professor Naomi Segal, Birkbeck College, 43 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0PD or scanned and attached to firstname.lastname@example.org
- III-Q4. Am I more or less likely to get a bursary for Summer School 2013 if I have had one in the 2011 or 2012 Summer School or the 2011 Taster Course?
III-A4. Neither more nor less likely. Applications for the bursary for any Summer School will be assessed quite independently of earlier courses.
- III-Q5. What does the Summer School 2013 fee cover?
III-A5. Fee income covers: tutor and administrative fees, teaching rooms, coffees and teas, guest speakers, additional events etc. Your fee does not cover either lunches or the course dinner (for which you pay an additional £45, ticking the form, if you wish to attend). It also does not cover travel or accommodation.
FAQs IV: Summer School 2013
- IV-Q1. If I attended Summer School 2011 or 2012, will the material studied this year be different?
IV-A1. Yes. The material studied will be different from the earlier Summer Schools and it is also different from the online courses and the Taster, so that a person could take all five without repetition.
- IV-Q2. Can I attend just part of the Summer School?
IV-A2. We would strongly discourage this, as the workshops will only be of real use if you attend the whole event. If you were to attend only part, you would still have to pay the fee in full.
- IV-Q3. Will the workshop texts be available in advance?
IV-A3. Yes: the long texts will be available two weeks in advance and the shorter ones a week before each session.
- IV-Q4. Do I need to apply twice over if I wish to study two languages in a class-based event?
IV-A4. No. You register (and pay the fee) just once, whether you study one language/editing or two
- IV-Q5. What is the programme for the Summer School?
IV-A5. The programme will be uploaded onto the webpage as soon as it is complete. The broad structure will be as follows. The Summer School lasts five full days (Mon 22 – Fri 26 July 2013), including some lectures, discussions and language-games as well as workshop classes. Each day will include two 2-hour classes, morning and afternoon. Each tutor will run eight 2-hour classes. In the morning classes, one long text will be tackled throughout the five days, while the afternoon classes will focus on several shorter texts. Editing workshops will take place in parallel, with each language group attending two 2-hour sessions. For students taking Editing as their main course, they will spend the two ‘floating’ sessions in translation classes, or on another activity.
- IV-Q6. Who will be teaching on the Summer School?
- IV-Q7. What if I am more interested in either academic translation or literary translation?
For most languages, a mixture of these kinds of source-texts will be available in Summer School 2013. For French and German, two groups will run, one with a stress on academic translation and the other on literary translation; you may choose which to join, or even take both (numbers permitting).
- IV-Q8. How is the teaching distributed if I am taking two courses?
IV-A8. Normally we expect people to attend the morning classes in their first language/editing (‘L1’) and afternoon classes in their second (‘L2’). The only difference is– see Q5 above – that the morning classes will tackle one long text while the afternoon classes will focus on several shorter texts, so you should stick to your choice (mornings or afternoons) throughout the week. If you have more than two languages, we strongly recommend you keep to two. Single-French and single-German students may if they wish choose to take either the academic-translation class as their ‘L1’ or the literary class as their ‘L2’ (numbers permitting), or stay with one of these throughout.
- IV-Q9 What other activities will there be at the Summer School?
VI-A9. There will be additional activities each evening from 4.30 onwards, such as a Translation Slam, guest lectures or workshops, talks by publishers etc. As in the past two years, we will run a ‘ghost translation’ (an English text translated into all the languages and a prize given for the best translation back into English), and there will be an opportunity to meet publishers and compete, in certain languages, for your first translation contract.
- IV-Q10. How can I get an impression of the Useyour Summer School?
Feedback received from students on Summer School 2011 and 2012 can be found on the website, where you can also view short videos of both the Summer Schools and the Taster Event.
- IV-Q11. Will there be problems with accommodation in central London?
IV-A11. There are many hotels in the area, and a list of suggestions is on the website: see http://www.bbk.ac.uk/european/about-us/use-your-language-use-your-english/accommodation-around-birkbeck). For anyone who prefers something simpler and cheaper, we have block-booked 30 rooms in one of London University’s nearby student halls (see http://www.halls.london.ac.uk/visitor/garden/Default.aspx) for the five nights 21-25 July inclusive (arriving Sunday, departing Friday), on a first-come-first-served basis. The rooms are fairly basic, ie bed, desk etc with no en-suite, and you would share the bathroom & a basic pantry, but they include breakfast, and you can also get dinner in the hall by booking on the day. To obtain one of these, make sure you tick the box on the Summer School booking form and add £210 to your payment.
FAQs V: Editing Skills online & at Summer School 2013
- V-Q1. Will we be taught to edit texts written by Anglophones or only by non-Anglophones?
V-A1. Only texts written by non-Anglophones.
- V-Q2. How will editing skills be taught at the Summer School?
V-A2. Editing workshops will take place in two forms: for the first time this year, students can take a full course in Editing skills on its own (as ‘L1’) or with a translation course (as ‘L1’ or ‘L2’); and, as in the past, all other students will have two 2-hour classes in Editing in the course of the week, interspersed with their translation classes.
- V-Q3. Can I take the course in Editing skills only (either online or at the Summer School), if I do not have even one foreign language at an advanced level?
V-A3. Yes. In the online course you have always been able to take the Editing skills course without also doing a language; in Summer School 2013, you can do Editing Skills without also taking the translation course – see A2 above.
FAQs VI: The Online Programme
- VI-Q1. How do I qualify to take the online programme?
VI-A1. The online courses are designed, like our other courses, for anyone who is both a native Anglophone and having another language (or languages) at an advanced level.
- VI-Q2. How many of the online courses can I take?
VI-A2. You may take as many as you wish and can benefit from.
- VI-Q3. How can I register to take the online programme?
VI-A3. By emailing email@example.com Your details will then be sent to the Birkbeck IT moodle team, who will send you instructions about registering.
- VI-Q4. What does each course consist of?
VI-A4. Each course consists
* of nine ‘source texts’ of 350-500 words each (of different types: three literary prose texts, three journalistic texts and three specialist texts in academic fields) which you will be able to download & work on;
* and of nine ‘annotated translations/edited texts’ by the tutors, giving comments/reasons for possible translation choices, which you should consult only after you have completed your own attempt at the text.
- VI-Q5. Is the online course interactive?
VI-A5. No. To get the most out of these courses, you should download and work on each text in your own time, then look carefully at the ‘annotated text’ for it, learning from the comments provided by the tutor before you attempt the next one.
- VI-Q6. Will the nine texts be at increasing levels of difficulty?
VI-A6. Not necessarily. They are selected to give maximum range and maximum kinds of translation challenge.
- VI-Q7. How can I give feedback on the online courses?
VI-A7. All those taking an online course will be required to complete a feedback form when they have completed a course. This is both to help us test and enhance our provision and also to evaluate the effectiveness of the programme when we report to our funders. Also, when you first register, you will need to complete a form giving basic information (your name, contact details, affiliation, nationality etc). This is to help us accumulate statistics for reporting to our funders.
- VI-Q8. Do the online courses only run at certain times, or have to be done within a certain timespan?
VI-A8. No; because they are non-interactive, you can do them at any pace and at any time to suit you.
FAQs VII: The Exam (currently awaiting launch)
- VII-Q1. How do I qualify to take the exam?
VII-A1. You need to decide if and when you are ready to take the exam. Exams can be taken at any time throughout the year. Initially we are running exams in French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian & Spanish plus Editing skills. There will be two kinds of exam in each language/editing, which must be taken separately:
1) a General exam in translation/editing from the language into English, consisting of three texts, from each of which an extract will be specified for you to translate/edit;
2) a Specific exam, in a particular area of expertise (eg French medieval history, Spanish sport, Russian politics etc) which you yourself would specify; once you have booked to take the Specialist exam, you will be invited to select a text of ca 1500 words and send it in for approval. Once approved, you would do the work and submit it for marking.
- VII-Q2. Will one or more of the Use your language, Use your English training courses courses be enough to qualify me to take the exam?
VII-A2. You are strongly advised to supplement our courses with further training before attempting to take the exam. A number of UK universities offer translation courses at either undergraduate or postgraduate level. Also you could contact the British Centre for Literary Translation, which has a mentorship scheme http://www.bclt.org.uk/opportunities/mentoring.
- VII-Q3. Do I need to pay to take your exam?
VII-A3. Yes. The exam fee is £250, payable through an online booking form.
- VII-Q4. Can I retake the exam, if I do not pass, or not well enough?
VII-A4. Yes. The same language will be available in further General exams, at intervals to be decided.
- VII-Q5. How will the exam be marked?
VII-A5. There are two markers, a primary marker and a secondary marker who will monitor. All our markers are highly qualified professional translators and/or academics.
- VII-Q6. Will I receive feedback on my result if I do not pass?
VII-A6. Yes but we will not enter into discussion.
- VII-Q7. What levels of pass will there be?
VII-A7. No candidate will pass unless their accuracy is considered to be 100%. Beyond this, a distinction may be given for excellence in style.
- VII-Q8. What are the assessment criteria?
VII-A8. The assessment criteria will be announced on the website when the exams go live.
- VII-Q9. When will booking for the exam go live?
VII-A9. The exams are currently awaiting completion of the database (see section VIII) before being launched.
- VII-Q10. What is the timing for the exam process?
VII-A10. Once you receive the exam texts (for a General exam) or have your proposed text approved (for a Specialist exam), you may take up to three months to complete and submit your work. You will normally receive your result from us within 6 weeks.
FAQs VIII: Database of Academic Translators & Editors [DATE] Currently awaiting launch
- VIII.Q1. For whom is the Use your language, Use your English database intended?
The database is intended to serve two sets of people. The first is those who have acquired the ability, whether through our courses or through other training or both, to pass the exam at a high level and thus to offer advanced translation and/or editing to non-Anglophone writers who need to produce texts in excellent English. The second set of people are those non-Anglophones, for example academics who need to publish their research in English, and who seek either translators (if their English is basic or non-existent) or editors (if their English is advanced) to help them do so. The database should enable these two sets of people to find each other easily and reliably.
- VIII-Q2. When will DATE appear?
VIII-A2. DATE is currently awaiting completion. As soon as it goes live, details of all aspects of it will go up on the website. Once a person has passed the exam (in general translation or both general translation and one or more specific fields), they may be entered on the database, by applying through the email contact firstname.lastname@example.org – see below.
- VIII-Q3. How do I qualify to be entered on the database?
VIII-A3. You can only be entered on DATE if you pass at least one General exam (in translation or editing). Our role is to ensure benchmarks and criteria of excellence, so that all translators/editors on the database are able to provide a high-quality service to users.
- VIII-Q4. What will DATE consist of?
VIII-A4. The aim of DATE is to create a search facility for publishers or for non-Anglophone academics and others who need to produce texts in excellent English seeking either translators (if their English is basic or non-existent) or editors (if their English is advanced) to help them do so. Once you have passed at least one General exam, we will send you the DATE Information Form to elicit the following details, which will be entered on the datebase:
1) your surname, first name and title;
2) whether Translator or Editor or both;
3) your grade in the Use your Language, Use your English General exam (pass or distinction) and the year taken;
4) the language/s in which you have passed;
5) if you also pass a Specialist exam, that will be listed as well, with your grade (pass or distinction) and the year taken - this can be added later on;
6) your field/s of interest – which may be academic disciplines such as linguistics, politics, physics etc., or may be another area of interest such as sport, landscape, commerce etc;
7) any additional information under 'Professional Experience' and 'Other relevant information';
8) your country of residence and your email address.
It will then be up to you and those who contact you to agree timetable, charges etc. The Translators Association of the Society of Authors can advise on rates: +44 20 7373 6642.