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Hiring System for Canadian Federal Interpreters Postponed
CBC News (Canada) (12/28/16) Pfeffer, Amanda
A Canadian federal government software system designed to automate the process for hiring freelance interpreters has been delayed for the fifth time as government officials and interpreters alike question whether it should proceed. Since 2014, Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) has been preparing the launch of a new procurement system to replace the Translation Bureau's staff-run system of awarding contracts to freelance interpreters. The system, which has been criticized because it could potentially dole out interpreting jobs to the lowest bidder, is now more than a year overdue. The government's decision to delay comes after Canada's Senate Committee on Official Languages sent a letter to Judy Foote, the minister responsible for PSPC, asking her to postpone the system's implementation "until further notice." According to a statement, the committee became concerned after hearing from members of the International Association of Conference Interpreters (AIIC), who represent about 200 Canadian interpreters offering freelance services. AIIC—which is supported by the union representing staff at the Translation Bureau—has expressed concern that the hiring system's algorithm could choose interpreters based on who is the cheapest rather than selecting the interpreter best suited for the job. Nicole Gagnon, AIIC's regional advocacy lead for Canada, says she fears hiring based on the lowest bid would not only compromise interpreting quality, but "the government's obligation under Canada's Official Languages Act to provide quality service." Gagnon explains that the stakes are high since the quality of the hiring decision determines whether the interpreter can deliver the promise of bilingualism guaranteed in the act. PSPC Spokeswoman Me'shel Gulliver Bélanger says that the procurement tool is a "direct response" to recommendations from the Office of the Procurement Ombudsman in 2014 to ensure transparency and reduce administrative headaches in hiring at the Translation Bureau. Bélanger says PSPC still intends to implement the system, but is pushing back its launch from January until March to ensure all concerns raised by stakeholders are addressed. "We are committed to ensuring that only high-quality, certified interpreters are providing these services to the Government of Canada."
Study Finds Languages a Major Barrier to Global Science
University of Cambridge (United Kingdom) (12/29/16) Lewsey, Fred
Although English is considered the "lingua franca" of global science, a new study by researchers at the University of Cambridge suggests that more than a third of new scientific reports published annually could be overlooked by the international scientific community because they are published in other languages. "Language barriers continue to impede the global compilation and application of scientific knowledge," says Tatsuya Amano of Cambridge's Department of Zoology, who worked on the study. In addition to the international community missing important scientific research, language barriers hinder new findings getting through to practitioners in the field. The study argues that whenever science is only published in one language, including solely in English, barriers to the transfer of knowledge are created. The study recommends that scientific journals publish basic summaries of a study's key findings in multiple languages, and for universities and funding bodies to encourage translations as part of their outreach evaluation criteria. "While we recognize the importance of a lingua franca and the contribution of English to science, the scientific community should not assume that all important information is published in English," Amano says. The study points out an imbalance in knowledge transfer in countries where English is not the native language: "much scientific knowledge that has originated in many countries is available only in English and not in their local languages." This is a particular problem in subjects where both local expertise and implementation is vital, such as environmental sciences. "Scientific knowledge generated in the field by non-native English speakers is inevitably under-represented, particularly in the dominant English-language academic journals," Amano says. "I believe the scientific community needs to start seriously tackling this issue."
UN Proclaims 2019 the International Year of Indigenous Languages
El Universal (Mexico) (12/20/16)
The United Nations (UN) General Assembly voted to proclaim 2019 the International Year of Indigenous Languages as part of a resolution adopted by all 193 member countries. Co-authored by Bolivia and Ecuador and cosponsored by over 50 member countries, the purpose of the resolution is to "draw attention to the critical loss of indigenous languages and the urgent need to preserve, revitalize, and promote indigenous languages at the national and international levels." The UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization has been invited to "serve as the lead agency for the year." The resolution encourages member countries to work toward achieving the goals of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) to mark the 10th anniversary of the adoption of the declaration by the UN General Assembly. The UNDRIP codifies "indigenous historical grievances, contemporary challenges, and socio-economic, political, and cultural aspirations." The declaration represents the culmination of generations-long efforts by indigenous organizations to gain international attention to secure recognition for their aspirations and generate support for their political agendas. The resolution calls for a system-wide action plan to be implemented to ensure a coherent approach to achieving the goals of the declaration. Furthermore, the resolution emphasizes international cooperation to support national and regional efforts to preserve and strengthen the political, legal, economic, social, and cultural institutions of indigenous peoples. Álvaro Pop, chair of the UN's Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, says he is "pleased that the member countries have responded positively to our recommendation."
Slow Progress on Transforming Foreign Language Curriculum
Inside Higher Ed (DC) (01/06/17) Redden, Elizabeth
According to the results of a national survey of faculty members and students, a 2007 call by the Modern Language Association (MLA) to transform the curriculum and structure of foreign language education programs has resulted in slow progress. The survey, conducted by Lara Anderson, a professor of French and applied linguistics at the University of South Carolina, and Gillian Lorand, a professor and chair of the Spanish and Portuguese Department at the University of Florida, found that more than half of the professors and administrators who responded had read the 2007 MLA report, but just 39% had undertaken conscious efforts to modify the curriculum. The survey was intended to gauge the impact of the MLA's 2007 report, "Foreign Languages and Higher Education: New Structures for a Changed World." That report called for language departments to embrace a broader, more interdisciplinary curriculum—to "situate language study in cultural, historical, geographic, and cross-cultural frames." The MLA report also called for the reform of a pervasive "two-tiered" structure of language teaching in which non-tenured instructors teach the bulk of lower-level language courses while tenured and tenure-track professors teach upper-level literature classes and retain most of the power for guiding the educational direction of the department. Around 40% of the faculty members and administrators who responded to the survey say their departments still resemble the two-tiered language-literature system the MLA recommended migrating away from. In its place the 2007 report recommended that programs develop "a broader and more coherent curriculum in which language, culture, and literature are taught as a continuous whole, supported by alliances with other departments and expressed through interdisciplinary courses." Respondents identified several challenges associated with implementing changes to the curriculum, including a lack of time and training, indifference from administrators, and resistance to trying something new. Among those respondents who say they are making changes, actions taken include diversifying their curriculum and study abroad offerings, phasing out the emphasis on literature, developing interdisciplinary initiatives, and engaging with the community. When presenting the preliminary results of the survey at a session at the MLA's annual convention, Anderson and Lord stated that "foreign language departments, if they are to be meaningful players in higher education—or, indeed, if they are to thrive as autonomous units—must transform their programs and structure."
The Challenge of Making U.S. Museums Multilingual
Hyperallergic (NY) (01/04/17) Collazo, Julie Schwietert
Overcoming the English-language bias endemic to U.S. museums is a significant challenge. Kathryn Potts, director of education at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City, says making a museum multilingual involves much more than providing adequate signage. It is a resource-intensive process requiring the investment of capital as well as time and, in best-case scenarios, incorporation into the museum's overall strategic, marketing, acquisitions, programming, and hiring plans. She cites the structural challenge of this task, which raises questions about language prioritization, whether current or prospective patrons should dictate language choices, and the degree to which the languages should be included. Potts says the Whitney emphasizes staff development, hiring "educators and docents who speak the [target] language," and finding the "nexus of language and education" that will allow patrons to experience the museum in a meaningful way. Of course, the strategies of a single institution won't work as a one-size-fits-all plan for another, particularly as demographics vary from city to city and institutional finances, staff availability, and a host of other resources must be factored into the equation. There is also the issue of not assuming that the presence of a particular community demographic signifies that members of that community would want to engage with an institution in a language other than English. In Latinx communities in the U.S., for example, patterns of language fluency and use may complicate institutions' decisions about how to invest accordingly. Potts says that if you're not asking the right questions of the right people, it's unlikely the answers you receive will reflect the needs and wants of your target audiences. As more museums begin grappling with the issue of multilingual services, community outreach will be a critical tool for ensuring that resources are invested in a way that will be truly useful. Potts says, "Museums engaged in the work of inclusion must look at culture and language across the full spectrum of acquisitions, planning, programming, and outreach."
ATA 58th Annual Conference: Call for Presentation Proposals
The American Translators Association is now accepting presentation proposals for ATA's 58th Annual Conference in Washington, DC (October 25-28, 2017). Proposals must be received by March 3, 2017.
How to Submit a Presentation Proposal for 2017
The Conference draws an audience of more than 1,600 attendees, bringing together translators, interpreters, educators, language services company owners, and project managers. Making a presentation to such a diverse audience is a great way to gain recognition as a leader and expert in your field.
How to Write a Winning ATA Conference Proposal
Think you couldn't possibly prepare a proposal to present? Think again. ATA's free webinar How to Write a Winning ATA Conference Proposal takes you through the process step-by-step. Common pitfalls? Winning proposal style? Presentation tips? This free webinar has all the answers!
Free ATA Webinar | Entering the Changing Interpreting Market
How do you match your talent to the new technology and opportunities that come with a rapidly changing marketplace?
You can't afford to miss Katharine Allen's take on current hiring and recruiting trends in today's interpreting market!
Presenter: Katharine Allen
Date: January 31
Free! Click to register!
Free ATA Webinar | Transitioning from Classroom to a Translation Career
It's never too early for students to start asking questions and planning their first steps after graduation.
Do you need a website? How do you find clients? What is the value of your degree? Can you really make it as a freelancer? What services should you offer?
Get real-world answers from Jamie Hartz, who was right where you are not that long ago.
Presenter: Jamie Hartz
Date: February 7
Free! Click to register!
ATA 2017 Elections: Call for Nominations
The 2017 Nominating and Leadership Development Committee is pleased to announce the call for nominations from ATA’s membership to fill the positions of president-elect, secretary, and treasurer (each a two-year term), as well as three directors’ positions (each a three-year term).
Any ATA member may make a nomination by completing and submitting the form online or by mail.
Elections will be held at the Annual Meeting of Voting Members on Thursday, October 26, 2017, in Washington, DC.
The deadline for submitting nominations is March 1, 2017.
ATA Mentoring Program Enrollment Open
Need to move your business forward? Have questions about technology, management, or clients? Check out the ATA Mentoring Program.
Want to know more about how the program works? Watch this 60-minute ATA Mentoring Program webinar—it's free!
Applications from interested mentees and mentors will be accepted through March 3. This is your only opportunity to enroll in the 2017 program.
Don't wait! Only 30 mentees will be accepted. Get additional details now.
ATA Webinar | Specialization: Why and How, and What’s the Big Deal?
Translators and interpreters are often told they should specialize. But why? Attend this webinar to find out!
Karen Tkaczyk will examine the concrete benefits of specializing and give you an inside look at a specialized translation practice. Then she'll show you how to develop your own plan for becoming an expert in your field.
Presenter: Karen Tkaczyk
Date: February 9
New ATA Member-to-Member Provider: Gaucha Translations
Gaucha Translations is offering three courses to ATA members at a discount!
Spanish Writing for Fluent Speakers of Spanish. A course to help translators and interpreters bridge the gap between oral proficiency and writing skills.
Translation Training. Offered in English<>Spanish and Russian>English this intensive training program teaches translators how to use the ATA Certification Exam practice test to prepare for the exam.
Medical Oral Certification Exam. Daylong workshops focusing on evaluating skills and working with others to prepare for the exam.
Check out Gaucha Translations on the ATA Member-to-Member Provider page on ATA's website!
Watch the Video, Get Inspired!
There is so much more to ATA's School Outreach Program than you think! Take a minute now to learn why. And don't forget to submit an entry to the School Outreach Contest—the winner receives a free registration to ATA's 58th Annual Conference in Washington, DC!
In the January/February Issue of The ATA Chronicle
Spider Marketing: How to Get Clients to Come to You
Going out and selling yourself is definitely a good idea, but if not done strategically, you might find yourself spending lots of time and energy on it with little or no result. (Simon Berrill)
Why Ergonomics Matters to Professional Translators
Most translators probably associate the term “ergonomics” with office chairs and keyboards. While these factors are all relevant, there is a much broader definition. (Sharon O’Brien, Maureen Ehrensberger-Dow)
Feedback: Going Beyond “That Was Great”
Providing feedback during an interpreting practice session is not just a matter of half listening and then saying, “Yeah, that was great.” Interpreting practice with a partner or in groups involves giving feedback to others, and in turn accepting their feedback. (Elizabeth Essary)
ATA School Outreach Contest Winner Profile: Rika Mitrik
Knowing that she had to adapt the content of her presentation to the short attention span of three- to five-year-olds, this year’s School Outreach winner used a role-play exercise and some interactive activities to explain the difference between translation and interpreting. (Molly Yurick)
Call for Nominations: ATA Officers and Directors
Do you know someone who would make a good potential candidate for ATA’s Board of Directors? If so, ATA’s Nominating and Leadership Development Committee would like to hear from you. Any ATA member may make a nomination. Here’s your chance to help shape the future of the Association!
2016 ATA Honors and Awards Recipients
ATA and the American Foundation for Translation and Interpretation present annual and biennial awards to encourage, reward, and publicize outstanding work done by both seasoned professionals and students of our craft. This year's recipients are...
Access to The ATA Chronicle's searchable archives is available online! And don't forget to check out the latest issue of the Chronicle Online.
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