Online course

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.

Working with Translation: Theory and Practice

Explore what it means to communicate in multiple languages.

Translation is one of the most fundamental of human activities, allowing us to interact with one another within and across cultures.

Drawing on the research of specialists at Cardiff University and the University of Namibia, and building on the expertise of professionals from southern Africa to northern Europe, the course offers a wealth of practical tips and a broad understanding of the nature of translation in an increasingly multilingual world.

Our global exploration considers healthcare and the justice system as well as music, manga, video games and historical romances. You may even discover your own ‘inner translator’ in the process!

Skip to 0 minutes and 6 secondsWhat 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 secondsThe 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 secondsWe 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?

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?

Loredana Polezzi

I am Professor of Translation Studies in the School of Modern Languages at Cardiff University and a member of the Transnationalizing Modern Languages research project, supported by the UK's AHRC.

Cristina Marinetti

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.

Dorota Goluch

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.


I am a Lecturer of Literature in English, research and rhetoric at the University of Namibia and a team member of the Transnationalising Modern Languages: Global Challenges project


I am a Senior Lecturer of French at the University of Namibia. I have been living here for 15 years. I have a great interest in multilingualism, teaching methods and professional development.

Who developed the course?

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.

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