My colleague Jayne Fox recently offered a list of various continuing education opportunities of interest under the title "Free webinars for translators and interpreters
". It's worth a look.
I find her blog post title unfortunate but astute. Many colleagues caught in the Poverty Cult mentality won't look at anything unless it is "free". Free, software, free training, whatever. Very often a waste of time and money though. Translators and everyone else would do better to set their personal filters to seek the good
first, and then apply cost criteria. If I'm flat broke, I'm not going to be paying my bills faster by wasting my time on crap. I need to focus on what will really build my skills and help my marketing. The fact that some of the things that will cost little or nothing is a matter of almost secondary importance no matter how empty the refrigerator and bank account might be.
In the same way, fat and happy translators billing €40 per word will not benefit from the fastest, most expensive computer hardware and software available. Anyone can benefit from good
tools and some very good ones, such as OmegaT, can be had for no investment but your time. Whether OmegaT is better than SDL Trados Studio, Fluency or memoQ would depend on the task to be accomplished. That's one of the reasons why interoperability is such an important topic for me in translation technology: for thirteen years I have tried to use the best combination of tools to optimize the ergonomics of my work and get the best results.
Most of the web presentations Jayne listed are very good. She gave us an excellent overview which can help a great many people. One of my favorites in the list is the translators training site
which Jost Zetzsche has been involved with for so many years: it has pay-for-few recordings that show specific, important and profitable tasks which should interest many translators, but it also offers free short video tutorials for every CAT tool I can think of (about 20 of them), comparing how each performs the same simple translation job, records terminology, etc. Often these little tutorials would be all someone needs to make a good start with their chosen CAT tool, and the videos are a good way to get a simple overview of the different "feel" of the various environments.
But we can do better.
How? I don't have all the answers. I have a few notions, and for some time now I have been researching past and current practice, pestering people with questions, wasting time and mining ideas. Along the way I've stumbled into a few interesting business opportunities as a provider of language services, I've learned a lot and had fun. Some have seen my experiment and been motivated to start their own. I hope that they and others will continue to question the models of online and offline instruction which currently dominate our practice and question whether there is something more to be had.
Let's take the webinar
as an example. These are very popular, and rightly so. I have learned a lot from them and probably could have learned a lot more. But to date I have resisted all attempts to draw me into teaching one myself, despite the fact that I have been committed to teaching in various forms for over 30 years. This is because many webinars are a waste of time. Even the best webinars waste time I think. Maybe not. But I think it's fair to say that someone watching the best 30 to 60 minute webinar I could offer would have a lot of their time wasted
, and they would have a harder time making use of the lessons later than if these were presented differently.
Many times I have wanted to go back and review some useful technical point in a Gábor Ugray webinar on memoQ, and I just can't find it in the hour presentation, the dog ate my notes, and by the time I do find it, said dog needs to go for a walk and I forget the whole matter.
There is no indexing for most webinars.
If you must leave that long talk in one big chunk, why not put an index under it which notes important points and the time at which they are discussed. There is probably some clever way to make this a clickable hyperindex which immediately skips to that point, but I don't mind being low tech and dragging a slide bar to get to the part of the video that interests me.
One hour is too f-ing long most of the time. I swear if I ever do an hour-long webinar, I will edit down to the twenty minutes that really matter
and then slice that up into the three to five individual topics of interest. And I'll add a little text and perhaps some graphics to a web page in which the individual clips are embedded if this can reinforce or supplement the message in some useful way.
If the visuals don't matter I might even just extract the audio from the video and offer an MP3 "podcast" you might listen to in the car on a long drive or on a jog through the neighborhood (though I refuse all liability if you get killed at an intersection while not paying attention to your route).
If I'm trying to teach you about software and how to use it for a task like handling particular file formats or types of information, I might think about providing a demonstration file with which you can practice. How many people do this now?
Doh. It's all very well to talk about how much a particular translation environment tool can do, but if people can't apply that and gain confidence before
they are asked to quote on a big job, they might well be too afraid of failure and leave their refrigerators and bank accounts understocked.
The same applies to skills that have less or nothing to do with translation and multilingual matters. Current teaching paradigms are underdeveloped, and improving them is not usually a matter of better editing, flashier effects and easy listening soundtracks. Real value can often be simpler, faster, cheaper and cruder than that.
Integrated instruction is more a matter of imagination than technology and budget.
My current "research" is being performed in most cases with production tools which are free and usually Open Source and which, most of the time, are definitely inferior to the premium Adobe software I used for similar tasks in the 1990s. This is my concession to the Poverty Cult and my own sometimes involuntary priorities, and I fear that if I download the latest copy of Camtasia, Adobe Premiere, Adobe Captivate and other fine tools someone with something useful to teach might confuse the medium with the message
and not make a valuable tutorial they could create quite adequately using free and easy tools. There is always time to upgrade after the point has been driven into the ground and the stake is there for all to see.