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Sheyla Barretto de Carvalho When we founded the Brasillis Idiomas Translation Course five years ago, we did so aiming to meet the constant demand of a public that wanted to learn translation techniques from successful professionals in the market. These were people who wanted to change their lives, professionals from diverse areas who sought new horizons.

We thought that teaching translation should be practical, dynamic and interesting without losing sight of the reality of our job market. Always striving to produce competent translators, we developed a curriculum that, throughout the years, was gradually improved (and which is regularly updated to keep in touch with market trends and demands) and includes the different areas of translation, such as IT, literature, legal and finance.

Today, hundreds of students have graduated from our course and we can proudly say that the method we developed works. And it works well! There are students who complete the course already on the right track or who, using the tools and knowledge acquired with us, leave in search of work and are successful.

Something I consider important for the successful training of translators is to keep class sizes small (with the students placed together after a selection test) and to rely on a large team of professors. This guarantees a diversity of experiences and allows every student – even the most shy – to participate in the classroom discussions and have an opportunity to present their own solutions.

Another fact that encourages this interactivity, making it almost spontaneous, is the arrangement of the classroom chairs in a “U” shape. This creates a greater feeling of fellowship because everyone can see each other, a fact which facilitates group work and allows students to observe the other students' reaction to their translated text.

And yes! It is important to explain that while one student reads their solution for the translation of a specific text, the other students should act as reviewers and should be encouraged to share constructive criticism. When they do this, they are developing the capacity to distinguish a bad solution from a good solution and, better yet, learning to distinguish a good solution from one that is excellent.

Besides, seeking solutions for a translation is a job that, in theory, is endless. There is always something that can be improved. This is one of the reasons for which we should not work with a “model” or an “answer” that could ultimately be called “the correct translation.” However, in nearly every course, there is always that shocked student that asks “but aren’t you guys going to give as the answer?!”

There is no single “answer.” It is important to leave this perfectly clear (despite the initial resistance) because I believe that this will depend on the level of freedom that the students feel they have when “confronting” a particular text. They will make mistakes, misinterpret, become stumped by certain sentences and they will be disappointed by some of their translation solutions… All of this is necessary and important for the training of these future translators. Weariness, desperation and euphoria are feelings that must be experienced so that they can better understand the trade of translation.

Let me share a simple example that illustrates how harmful it would be to students’ creativity if we were to give them an “answer” to the translated texts. In one of the courses, we use an article whose English title is Blow up or Put up. The title is translated last, after the entire text is read, analyzed and translated. The professor, who obviously has completed their homework and has a good translation for that title “up their sleeve” (just in case there are no good solutions from the students or if there is a collective “blank”) is surprised when some of the students present not only one option, but various, and extremely interesting ones! “Explodir ou reprimir” (“Explode or Repress It,”) “Soltar os cachorros ou engolir sapos” (“Let the Dogs Out or Swallow Frogs,”) “Estourar ou agüentar” (“Let It Out or Put up with It.”) Not one of these is the same as the one that the professor-translator thought of: “Botar para quebrar ou deixar rolar” (“Shake it Up or Let it Be.”)

Therefore, I will say it and repeat it again: it is necessary to make the student think (which is much more work than simply telling them the answer). The solution presented by the professor-translator has a strong influence on the student – an apprentice who generally views the professor with great respect and admiration – it is definite and inevitably stifles the student’s creativity.

Another aspect that is also essential for the education of a good translator is the act of supplying this individual with information about the market. They must know how much one page costs, the difference between translation and interpretation, that a translator’s union and a professional association exist, and that there is a reference table of prices and discussion lists on the Internet for professionals in this industry.

These individuals must have knowledge of translation tools, as these are becoming increasingly important by the day. They need to be introduced into the market and it is our goal to place them in this context and make them realize how important translation work is. They must acknowledge that the translator is the one who “opens the window to let the light in, breaks the shell so that we can eat the almond, pulls the curtains aside so that we can look at a more sacred place and removes the lid of the well so that we can reach the water” (from the preface of the 1611 authorized version of the Bible).

Sheyla Barretto de Carvalho is Director of Translation and Events of Brasillis Idiomas. Carvalho has a degree in Translation and Interpretation from PUC-Rio (1992) and is also a lawyer and business administrator. A member of the Brazilian Translator’s Association (ABRATES), the National Translator’s Union (SINTRA) she is a fan of martial arts, having practiced them for eight years.

This article was originally published in Сcaps Newsletter (http://www.ccaps.net)

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