Studying languages : wise or unwise ?

by Fanny Chouc

Conflicting information has recently been released in the press over the career benefits of studying languages, with the Telegraph grabbing headings with a bold statement according to which “Languages graduates are now the least employable in Britain”, according to an ONS survey, while the BBC published data from the Institute for Fiscal Studies, which place language graduates above medicine, business and law graduates in terms of earnings. The CBI’s reports on employment skills sought after by employers have also repeatedly stressed the importance and benefits of languages in terms of employability, highlighting that despite the looming prospect of Brexit, “there can be great advantages for British businesses if employees can communicate with at least reasonable proficiency in the language of clients, customers and suppliers”. According to the same study, EU languages are still very much in demand: businesses surveyed have stressed the need for “French (50%), German (47%) and Spanish (30%)”, showing clearly that linguistic skills remain prevalent, not to mention the communication skills and intercultural awareness that goes hand-in-hand with the study of languages.

So who to trust? Should you still consider that language degree, or is it a waste of time and money? Worthy question, particularly relevant in England and Wales when you consider the financial cost of higher education studies. When you are considering paying up to £9,250 a year in tuition fees (caped amount for undergraduate degrees in England), of course, employability becomes a significant factor in your choice of studies.

Part of the answer could possibly be found in the type of studies linguists choose, if we consider the case of Heriot-Watt University graduates: the Languages and Intercultural Studies department (known as LINCS) offers degrees with a very clear professional focus. In keeping with the ethos of Heriot-Watt University, students who come to do a degree in languages … don’t actually do a degree in languages! They do degrees in translation, in interpreting, or focus on an applied use of languages for business. So languages are considered as a field of expertise studied for specific, applied purposes, and students get to grips with very professional uses of the language: how to handle interpreting in a business meeting, how to prepare to interpret simultaneously at an international conference, how to master key CAT (computer-aided translation) tools … and rather than the more traditional and philological approach still noted in more traditional language degrees, Heriot-Watt LINCS students don’t study literature: they focus on developing their understanding and knowledge of modern-day Spain, France, Germany, China, etc … They learn about the way institutions work, what education systems are like in each countries, how politics currently stand in each area, and they study international organisations, business strategies and cultural-specific approaches to corporate management.

Another key aspect of LINCS training is the connection with the industry, another crucial element stressed by the CBI in their report. LINCS works closely with Heriot-Watt University’s Career Services, running regular and innovative information sessions with inspirational speakers from around the world who studied on the degree programmes offered by the department, sometimes using e-communication tools to ensure that students get a chance to speak to talented professionals living and working in distant locations. Students also have access to mentoring schemes, career fairs and tailored support; they receive guidance and advice throughout their studies, and they’re all included in a LINCS-specific mailing list designed to flag internship, volunteering and paid work opportunities.

Does this work? Yes, undoubtedly: based on latest destination survey, LINCS graduates from Heriot-Watt have a very high employability rate. 96% of them were either in employment or further education 6 months after they graduated. It is also very interesting to note that these graduate-attribute focused degrees also open doors in many unsuspected fields: LINCS graduates go into translation and interpreting, of course. They secure positions in big international companies, yes. But some also secure positions in banking, in the film industry, in policy-making organisations, in the media, in accountancy …

So don’t be fooled by headlines: a focused, applied language degree is still very relevant. It will give you a very versatile and highly employable profile, and it could make you richer than a lawyer!

 

Sources:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/2017/11/24/languages-graduates-now-least-employable-britain-new-figures/

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/2017/11/24/languages-graduates-now-least-employable-britain-new-figures/

http://www.cbi.org.uk/index.cfm/_api/render/file/?method=inline&fileID=DB1A9FE5-5459-4AA2-8B44798DD5B15E77

http://www.cbi.org.uk/cbi-prod/assets/File/pdf/cbi-education-and-skills-survey2016.pdf

 

Call for papers CIUTI 2018 ! Translation and interpreting in an era of demographic and technological change

 

The Centre for Translation & Interpreting Studies in Scotland (CTISS) at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh is delighted to announce an international conference on Translation and interpreting in an era of demographic and technological change, to be held in Edinburgh on 30 and 31 May 2018.

Open to all, the conference immediately follows the members-only General Assembly of CIUTI (Conférence Internationale Permanente d’Instituts Universitaires de Traducteurs et Interprètes) and is intended to create a common space for reflection on translation and interpreting issues. The conference language is English.

Key dates
• Abstract submission deadline: 31 January 2018
• Notification of acceptance: 28 February 2018
• Registration open: 28 February 2018
• Early-bird registration available until: 31 March 2018

Aim and scope
The digital era, characterized by technology which increases the speed and breadth of knowledge turnover within the economy and society, now embraces every aspect of our lives. The impact of new technologies is changing the very nature of language and communication, causing adjustment in every aspect of who says what, to whom, how, why, and with what effect. These developments interact in increasingly complex, pivotal and pervasive ways with demographic shifts, caused by war, economic globalisation, changing social structures and patterns of mobility, environmental crises, and other factors. Translators and interpreters attempt to keep up with these shifts. This conference is designed to reflect upon the innovations in research, practice and training that are associated with this turbulent landscape.

Topics
We invite papers related but not limited to the following translation and interpreting (T&I) areas:
• T&I in the digital economy
• T&I and new technologies
• Accessibility issues in T&I (e.g. data sharing, maintenance, copyright)
• New methodologies in T&I
• Multimodality in T&I
• T&I and the media
• T&I and literature
• T&I in the public sector
• T&I in politics and law
• Ethics, equality and diversity in T&I
• T&I in education

Submissions are invited for 20-minute presentations. Abstracts should be no more than 400 words (excluding references) and clearly state research questions, approach, method, data and (expected) results. Please submit your abstract as a file attachment including the title of the paper, author name, affiliation and e-mail address to CIUTIconference2018@hw.ac.uk. The subject header of the submission email should read: Abstract CIUTI.

Further details will soon be available via http://www.ctiss.hw.ac.uk/research/conferences1.html 

Location: Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh is the capital city of Scotland, the home of the Scottish Parliament and well served by international communication and transport links. The University was established in 1821 as the world’s first mechanics’ institute, with its Royal Charter granted in 1966). It is ranked among the World’s top 500 and the UK’s top 30 universities. The Centre for Translation & Interpreting Studies in Scotland (CTISS) is internationally renowned for the calibre of its research which has been developed over more than 40 years. Bringing together research expertise across disciplines in translation studies, interpreting and applied language studies, the Centre’s work – building a diverse and coherent body of knowledge which seeks to address socially-relevant issues – informs the thinking of government, industry and public bodies around the world.

Another virtual class with DG SCIC !

by Fanny Chouc

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LINCS held a virtual class in cooperation with the Directorate General for Interpretation on Friday 17th November. This EU institution, familiarly known as SCIC, runs all the interpreting services of the EU Commission, and cooperates with universities which specialize in conference interpreting. LINCS managed to secure this prestigious type of cooperation for the 2nd year running, following a first virtual class held last June with the previous Honours and MSc cohorts.

Fernando Leitão, Head of the E-learning sector for SCIC, explained to the 19 UG and PG students present that the “main purpose [of a virtual class] is to supplement guidance you are getting from your teachers”.

This virtual class was also a first, as the Brussels-based SCIC team was joined by a team of interpreters from the European Court of Justice, based in Luxembourg. Thanks to the support of Heriot-Watt’s AV team, a three-way connection was set up via Polycom. As a result, students based in Edinburgh were able to attend a virtual class jointly run from two other European cities, and two different EU institutions, thus enjoying a truly international class.

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Students were equally delighted and daunted to have an opportunity to try their consecutive interpreting skills on speeches delivered by EU interpreters. Topics were sent a couple of days in advance by the coordinator for this virtual class, Clara Baruffati (herself a graduated from our MSc in conference interpreting, currently doing a stage with SCIC), and students were able to research topics such as the butter crisis in France, the impact of technologies on paper-books, and how nuclear science can tackle disease-spreading insects. While our Honours year students started learning note-taking skills and practicing consecutive interpreting during their second year, MSc students only started to acquire this set of very specific skills a couple of months ago, so tackling speeches 5 to 8 minutes long presented a real test of their abilities.

But despite the pressure of working with such prestigious teachers, who are such inspirational role models for aspiring conference interpreters, students dealt with the tasks well, receiving comments such as “impressive performance” in some cases.

So what advice did they take on board from the experience?

Firstly, “you’ve got to be prepared to roll with everything”, according to Kevin McCarthy, EU interpreter and trainer from the English language unit.

Secondly, work on communication skills and confidence: “your credibility is everything”, so mastering signs of stress is crucial, as are communication skills.

Students were also encouraged to pay special attention to the coherence of the speech, and to ensure that they use the opportunity to ask a few questions to elicit every crucial piece of information from the speakers.

This very thorough session, during which students received not only specific feedback on their performances, but also valuable professional advice, left students rearing for more similar challenges, and determined to take all the advice on board to practise and progress further.

Eilidh MacLaghlan, one of the Honours students selected to deliver a Spanish consecutive, said: “The SCIC virtual class was an exciting and unique opportunity to receive feedback from professionals in the industry we wish to enter following our studies. The advice and pointers we were given from interpreters at the European Commission and the European Court of Justice will be hugely beneficial as we progress through our degree course, and into our professional life.”

This session was also welcomed by LINCS staff coordinators, Fanny Chouc and José Maria Conde: “students greatly benefit from getting feedback from such inspiring interpreters and trainers; it’s also good for them to hear the type of advice they get in class from EU experts, as it enables them to relate more clearly what they are doing in class with the professional world.”

Following this exciting experience, students are hoping to get further opportunities to receive guidance from EU interpreters, and they are also looking forward to the coming – award-winning- annual multilingual debate, which will take place on March 21st. On that occasion, they will be applying their simultaneous interpreting skills to facilitate debates between the members of a multilingual panel, an audience of over 400 in the James Watt Conference Centre, and a wider online audience, since the two debates of the day will be streaming live online.

Follow us on Twitter @HW_LifeinLINCS and @heriotwatt_soss for updates on #MLD2018.

IPCITI returns to Heriot-Watt after 4 years!

by Paola Ruffo

The Centre for Translation and Interpreting Studies in Scotland (CTISS) at Heriot-Watt hosted the 13th International Postgraduate Conference in Translation and Interpreting (IPCITI), 9-10 November 2017

IPCITI is an annual postgraduate conference organised by students for students and it marks the consolidation of the collaboration between Dublin City University, Manchester University, the University of Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt University. Its main aims are to promote greater participation in Translation and Interpreting research and foster a supportive and intellectually stimulating environment where research and academia can be accessible in real terms.

This year, the IPCITI 2017 Organising Committee (Jafar Ahmad, Nga-Ki Mavis Ho, Lorraine MacDonald, Michael Richardson and Paola Ruffo) has worked hard to welcome delegates from all over the world to Heriot-Watt and create a diverse and enriching programme, which included meaningful contributions across all areas of Translation and Interpreting Studies.

The conference started with a workshop by Mr Ramon Inglada (CTISS, Heriot-Watt University) on ’CAT Tools: welcome to the cloud-based (r)evolution’ followed by Dr Ana-Frankenberg Garcia’s (University of Surrey)  keynote on ‘The use of corpora in translation research’. Day two saw Interpreting research and practice join forces to discuss ‘Interpreting theory and practice in dialogue’ with a panel formed by Prof Graham Turner (CTISS, Heriot-Watt University), Prof Claudia Angelelli (CTISS, Heriot-Watt University), Mr Martin Gallagher (Police Scotland) and Ms Delphine Jaouen (NHS Scotland).

A variety of topics has been discussed by our international presenters over the course of these two days, covering diverse areas of T&I Studies such as translation and interpreting technologies, literary translation, interpreters’ training, British Sign Language interpreting, risk in translation, and news translation in relation to ideology and human rights.

To quote our Head of School, Prof Robert MacIntosh, who opened the conference: “We have a long heritage of Translation and Interpreting of which we are very proud” – this year’s successful and high-quality IPCITI drove that point home again.

You can follow The International Postgraduate Conference in Translation and Interpreting on twitter (@ipciti) and on the dedicated website www.ipciti.org.uk.

See you in Manchester for IPCITI 2018!

 

MacFarlane Prize 2017 for Dr Emma Hill !

LINCS and IRC graduate Dr Emma Hill has won the prestigious 2017 MacFarlane Prize for the most outstanding contribution to the research of the University.

Emma (pictured here with her supervisors, Prof. Máiréad Nic Craith and Dr Katerina Strani), is the first ever recipient of the prize from any department in the School of Social Sciences.

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She was presented with the award at Heriot-Watt University’s graduation ceremony on 15 November 2017. Professor Garry Pender, Deputy Principal for Research and Innovation, reading her citation, said:

Dr Emma Hill’s thesis “Somali voices in Glasgow: Who speaks? Who listens?” makes an outstanding contribution to knowledge in the ethnographic study of refugees in society. It focuses on the concept of ‘voice’ and researches the multiple ‘voices’ of Somali communities in Glasgow. Her work makes a range of original contributions – from the social scientific fieldwork descriptions of a community during a period of political upheaval in Scotland to the care in presenting, questioning and decolonising the concept of ‘voice’.

Throughout her time in Heriot-Watt, Emma has been an active member of the Intercultural Research Centre. She worked as a research assistant on the EU-funded RADAR (Regulating Anti-Discrimination and Anti-Racism) Project led by Dr Katerina Strani. She has presented her work at conferences in Athens, Montreal and Copenhagen. Emma is also an alumna of the Transformations Network, a doctoral network affiliated to Ludwig Maximillian University in Munich. Her published work has been ranked externally as world-class.

Throughout her PhD, Emma complemented her academic focus with participatory research. She volunteered at community events, provided careers advice and guidance to young Somali adults. As an intern with the Scottish Government during her PhD studies, she worked to develop links between government and Somali groups. Emma’s research has had public impact, achieved through an exhibition of its findings at a Scottish Graduate School for Arts and Humanities event. This has since gained interest from Glasgow Life.

Emma was co-supervised by Prof. Máiréad Nic Craith and Dr Katerina Strani, both members of the recently-established cultural studies section in LINCS. Emma has already taken up a research position at the University of Edinburgh. She is highly deserving of this award for an exceptional piece of work that presents the voice of one of the most marginalized groups in Scotland today.

The MacFarlane Prize commemorates the contribution to the University made by Professor A G J MacFarlane during his tenure as Principal and Vice-Chancellor. The Prize of £250 is presented annually to the PhD graduate who, in the opinion of the Awards Panel, has made the most outstanding contribution to the research of the University.

Congratulations Dr Emma Hill !!!!

DESIGNS project update

By Audrey Cameron

Click here to see this blogpost in British Sign Language.

After our initial blogpost about the new DESIGNS: Deaf people in employment project in January 2017, which gave an overview of the project and talked about the kick-off event in Dublin, we have since held a community information event at Heriot-Watt University in June 2017, where we had various presentations from different members of the Designs project team. The event was attended by approximately 35 deaf BSL users, interpreters, and various advisory group representatives. The event was livestreamed through the Designs Facebook page, and the video is still available to watch.

We are now very excited to able to welcome Dr Audrey Cameron to the DESIGNS team. Audrey is a Deaf BSL user and has been appointed as the postdoctoral research associate for the project (two days per week). She brings a wealth of experience of research and working with the British Deaf Community. Audrey’s now into her fourth week and, having gone through the usual induction processes here at the University, she’s ready, along with the rest of the project team, to start identifying and contacting people to ask them to share their thoughts with us about the access issues for deaf sign language users around employment here in the UK.

A key part of this project involves interviewing people about the challenges facing deaf sign language users who are either employees, self-employed, managing their own business or looking for employment. We’ve prepared letters of introduction, explaining a little about the project and why we’d like to meet with people and these are now ready to go out.  A series of questions have been devised that are designed to help steer our conversations with participants and we’ve prepared the necessary consent forms. In the meantime, a couple of interviews have already been undertaken.

We’re also on the look out for volunteers to participate in focus groups to help us explore and develop resources that will help break down the barriers facing deaf sign language users that have been identified by the people we’ve been interviewing.

To complete the picture, we will be meeting with BSL/English Interpreters to find out from them what they see as the access issues for the deaf sign language users they work with in employment related settings.

One other thing we will be doing is collecting case studies of positive examples of where deaf people are successful in their workplace and how they work with interpreters. Here’s a good example from a recent article in the Deaf community online blog, the Limping Chicken, about Toby Burton, who is the Chief Financial Officer of Global Circulation at The Economist.

If you are interested in participating in our project or have any questions please let us know. Or if you think you have a positive case study to share with us, do get in touch.

Audrey Cameron can be contacted by email: Audrey.cameron@hw.ac.uk

LINCS interpreters at the Edinburgh Spanish Film Festival

by Josemari Conde and Ramon Inglada

As the curtain falls on the 2017 Edinburgh Spanish Film Festival (ESFF), it is time to look back at 10 days of great films, fine Spanish food and interesting Q&A sessions with actors, directors and producers.

It is also a good time to celebrate yet another successful collaboration between the ESFF and LINCS. Our interpreters have participated in several festival screenings and have played an important role in enabling communication among everyone attending the festival, regardless of their language skills.

At LINCS we are extremely proud of this cooperation and we hope to be part of the festival again in 2018!

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Erasmus in Madrid: the best year ever!

by Olivia Moran

My name is Olivia Moran and I’ve just started 4th year at Heriot-Watt.  I study in the LINCS department, on the MA (Hons) International Business Management and Languages degree.  I spent my third year studying in Madrid, at the Universidad Pontificia Comillas ICADE, and I can honestly say that it was the best year of my life.

ICADE has a reputation in Spain for being a prestigious university, and it was very different to any uni I’ve seen in the UK.  As it’s run by the Society of Jesus, the main building has a full size chapel and everything.  The professors were great – if they realised that you wanted to learn, they were super patient and willing to help you in any way they could.  The Spanish kids kept to themselves, but I made some great friends amongst the other Erasmus students.

To me, ICADE was more like being at high school than university: the classes were small, generally no more than 20/25 people, and the students were together throughout their four years there, which meant that they all knew each other well.  At first, I was intimidated by these small classes, but I quickly realised just how useful they would be.  The professors got to know us all very quickly, and we were given lots of opportunities to contribute and answer questions.  This helped my Spanish improve much more than if I had been a in a lecture hall with 200 people.

Erasmus students at ICADE can choose from a wide range of courses within the business school.  They also offer Spanish classes especially for the exchange students, which I found incredibly helpful – I managed to reach C1 level by the end of the year!  On the business side, I chose quite a few marketing modules, as that’s the industry I would like to work in when I graduate.  This was very useful, as I learnt a lot about the Spanish techniques, agencies and regulations, which in some cases differ greatly to those in the UK.   I also had the chance to study some quite unique modules – one of my favourite classes was Spanish Foreign Policy, as I love history and have an interest in politics.  It was also fascinating to see how government stances from 50 years ago are still influencing Spanish trade.

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It took me a while to get used to ICADE – there is no real campus, just a main building for the business and law students, so at times I did miss wandering round Heriot-Watt and admiring the loch, but it was a great opportunity to try something different.  It also means that I really appreciate Heriot-Watt’s beautiful campus now!

For me, the scariest part of the exchange was finding accommodation.  But as soon as I saw my flat, I knew it was meant to be.  My room was really bright, spacious and looked out onto a traditional little street.  I shared the flat with four Spanish girls who spoke no English.  I won’t lie, this was incredibly difficult at the beginning.  However, it was absolutely the BEST decision I could have made.  The girls were so friendly and patient, even with my stuttering Spanish.  That gave me the confidence to speak to them more, and now holding a conversation in Spanish doesn’t make me stress out anymore.  Even better, I’m still in touch with all the girls, which means that I can keep working on my conversational Spanish – when I go back to Madrid in October, I’m actually staying with them instead of forking out for a hotel!

I completely fell in love with Madrid during those 10 months.  I’m actually hoping to get a job there when I graduate – or somewhere in Spain at the very least!  There’s so much to do, whether you like art, history, culture or football.  I went to 10 (yes, ten) Atlético games (including Barcelona and Leicester), spent more hours in the Retiro reading books than I could even count, travelled to Portugal, France and the Netherlands and found so many great little bars and cafés along the way.

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Rowing around the boat lake in the Retiro is a must for anyone who visits.

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Sadly the Vicente Calderón is no more, but any Spanish football match is going to be good!

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If you have Spanish flatmates, they WILL make you dress up for Carnaval.

You have to make the effort. If you’re willing to speak Spanish, people will welcome you with open arms and make you feel like a part of their community.

Erasmus can be the best year of your life. It was for me!

LINCS collaboration with the Edinburgh Spanish Film Festival

by José María Conde and Ramón Inglada

The 2017 Edinburgh Spanish Film Festival (ESFF) starts on Thursday October 5th and will run in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Stirling until October 31st. This is the 4th edition of the festival and LINCS is collaborating with the ESFF once more, this time as a ‘Major Sponsor’:

http://www.edinburghspanishfilmfestival.com/sponsors/

This is a contribution with the best we can offer from our school: interpreters. Three of our interpreting students will be volunteer interpreters in several presentations and Q&A sessions with Spanish speaking filmmakers. More details are available in the website below:

https://www.edinburghspanishfilmfestival.com/en/festival/2017/

Two staff members in LINCS, José María Conde and Ramón Inglada, are coordinating this collaboration, hoping that it will continue for many more future editions of the festival.

We encourage you to attend some of the screenings and enjoy the festival!

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Celebrate International Translation Day 2017 with us

International Translation Day is celebrated every year on the 30th of September, the day of the feast of St Jerome, who was a Bible translator and is considered today as the patron saint of translators. LINCS is celebrating this important day with an event focused on 21st century translators and translation research. There will be talks by Prof Graham Turner, Dr Marion Winters, Paola Ruffo, Ramon Inglada and David Miralles Perez.

The event will take place on Wednesday 4th October 17:30 – 20:00 and is open to the public. Join us in celebrating International Translation Day in LINCS! #ITD2017

Sign up here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/international-translation-day-event-tickets-37836589257 

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https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/international-translation-day-event-tickets-37836589257