Bath stood out to me primarily because of the reputation of the interpreting and translating course. It is extremely well regarded in the industry and has great links with institutions such as the EU and UN for work placements and training. It also offered the opportunity to study two languages with equal weighting, which was important to me.
Many of our teachers are practicing professional linguists, which is really reflected in their teaching. They understand our challenges and questions as they have experienced the same things in their own work.
MAIT or TPLS?
At the time of choosing my postgraduate degree, Bath offered two courses with a European language focus in the area of interpreting and translating; the MA Interpreting and Translating (MAIT) and Translation and Professional Language Skills (TPLS). As I was more interested in spoken language I opted for MAIT in two languages; French and Italian. There is a cross over between the two courses and we share some translation modules which is great to meet new people.
Adapting to postgraduate life
Being a postgraduate student is very different to studying at undergraduate level, it feels more like doing a job! In fact, our teachers encourage us to treat it as such and most of us on the course spend full days on campus studying even if we are not in lectures or labs. I definitely feel like i'm treated more like a professional than a student, and lecturers are really supportive in helping us get to where we want to be with our learning and careers.
Maintaining my language skills
It's important to note that this is not a degree that teaches you a language. Therefore, it's really important to independently stay up to date, so that you feel confident with the content you are set to work on. I like listening to podcasts in French and Italian on the bus on the way into uni, or reading newspapers or magazines. This really helps broaden my vocabulary and keep the languages fresh in my mind.
Practice makes perfect
Interpreting is tricky, especially when you are first starting out. It takes lots of practice to master the techniques of a successful interpreter. At Bath we are really lucky to have such great facilities including fantastic lab spaces that mimic exactly what you would see in a real setting. We can use these in our own time to practice. Lecturers also provide us with lots of materials including videos and exercises that we can work through in our own time. My course mates and I tend to find getting together in small groups to work through tasks is really beneficial.
When anyone asks me about my course, I really do love to talk about it as I think it is such a great program. One of the highlights for me has to be when I get some good feedback on a piece of interpreting I have completed. I mentioned it being really tricky to get the hang of when you start, so seeing my progression and getting positive feedback is a great feeling!
Of course, the placement is also a huge plus point for this course. The University has exclusive EU and UN partnerships, meaning i'm supported in gaining opportunities it would not be possible for me to experience on my own.
My number one tip for anyone looking to study interpreting and translating at university is to really stay on top of your language skills. Over the summer before you start, and throughout the course. If your language skills are second nature, you can really focus on the specific techniques you need to be an interpreter.
I'd also say, don't feel like you have to go straight from your undergraduate degree into a master's. Lots of people on my course took a year out to live in country and develop their language skills further.
Ultimately, I cannot recommend this course enough if you are passionate about languages it is a great option.