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Working with Translation: Theory and Practice

Explore what it means to communicate in multiple languages in a variety of contexts, and discover your inner translator.

64,059 enrolled on this course

image of the planet surrounded by different speech bubbles
  • Duration

    4 weeks
  • Weekly study

    4 hours

From health to the justice system, from the voluntary sector to sport and the arts, we all increasingly live and work in contexts where people speak more than one language.

Established as a profession from the third millennium BCE, translation is one of the most fundamental of human activities, allowing us to interact with one another within and across cultures. We all encounter translation in our daily life, whether we speak many languages or just one.

Whether you regularly work with translators and interpreters in your job, find yourself occasionally acting as a translator or mediator, are considering translation as a possible route of professional development, or simply ponder about the ever-present interplay of languages and cultures around you, you will benefit from this course.

Understand the basics of translation

Drawing on the latest research and contributions from professionals, the course will help you understand what translation is and what it does. You’ll learn a wealth of practical tips and explore resources, covering topics like ‘What is translation?’, ‘Who translates and for whom?’, ‘Where does translation take place?’ and ‘How can we get translation right?’

Learn what successful translation is

You will learn about the key elements of the translation process, from a successful briefing to quality measures, while also gaining awareness of translation ethics and standards.

You will explore why translation sometimes goes wrong, and find out how you can avoid – or address – translation problems. And you will be constantly encouraged to relate the learning to your personal experiences of translation.

Discover how to communicate more effectively

By focusing on the pervasive nature of translation and interpreting, this course will allow you to become a more effective communicator: someone who is aware of the role of languages in a variety of contexts, including the health sector, government and law enforcement, multicultural communities, tourism, sport and the arts.

Who knows - you may even discover your own ‘inner translator’ in the process.

Skip to 0 minutes and 6 seconds What do a street in one of today’s global cities, the manual for the latest appliance you bought, a decent science fiction movie, or the dressing room of a top football or rugby club have in common? They’re all multilingual spaces, the spaces of translation, whether you see it or not. The first image that comes to mind when you think of a professional translator is that of the professional interpreter at the European Union or the United Nations. Think of the last ten people that you met this morning on your way to work. The bus driver or the taxi driver who took you there, the person who made you a coffee. The chances are, there were all multi-lingual.

Skip to 0 minutes and 48 seconds The truth is that translators really come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. And in the next four weeks, you will discover that translators are found in all walks of life, all around the world, and they can be men women, and children, who act as translators, often without even realizing it. Very often, people only notice translations when things go wrong. For example, a mistranslation can cause diplomatic tensions. This would suggest that all other translation is simply good. Yet the question, what makes a good translation, is far more complex than that. The stereotypical translator, interpreter looks a little bit like me, female, youngish, often bespectacled, sitting in a booth with headphones on, and with a look of extreme concentration.

Skip to 1 minute and 36 seconds We do not often stop to think about how translation works or about what it means to be an interpreter, to be a translator, or perhaps to work with professional or improvised translators. If you look closely enough, you will see that translation is everywhere. And possibly, there’s a translator hidden away in each and every one of you.

What topics will you cover?

  • Definitions and metaphors of translation
  • Varieties of translation, for example: phonetic, interlingual and cultural translation
  • Translators in history
  • The role of translators
  • Professional ethics and codes of conduct
  • Where translation takes place
  • Writing a successful translation commission
  • The nature of quality in translation

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and join a global classroom of learners. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

  • Available now

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Explore the variety of definitions of translation and their implications, as well as common misconceptions.
  • Collaborate with other learners to share examples of translation and interpreting drawn from daily life, and put them into context.
  • Describe the diverse roles of translators, interpreters and localisers.
  • Reflect on the spaces in which translation takes place and their bearing on practice.
  • Design a commission or briefing for a translator/interpreter, ensuring that all the necessary components are in place.
  • Evaluate differing conceptions of "quality" in translation.

Who is the course for?

There are no special requirements for this course but an interest in language and translation would be beneficial.

Who will you learn with?

I am Alfonse D’Amato Chair in Italian American and Italian Studies at Stony Brook University.
I am also Honorary Professor of Translation Studies in the School of Modern Languages, Cardiff University.

I’m a lecturer in Translation at Cardiff where I convene our very popular MA. My area of expertise is translation and the performing arts and I have worked as a translator in Italy and the UK.

I'm a Lecturer in Translation at Cardiff University, where I'm involved in translation training as well as research on literary & cultural translation. I've also worked as a translator and localiser.

Who developed the course?

Cardiff University

Cardiff University is a member of the Russell Group of the UK’s leading research-intensive universities and is ranked within the top 150 universities in the world in the QS World University Rankings.

Learning on FutureLearn

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  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps to help you keep track of your learning
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
  • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

Map your progress

  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

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