Throwback Thursday: Translating and Interpreting Course

Continuing my posts about the JET Programme things, this week I thought I’d post about the Translating & Interpreting course that JET runs in collaboration with JIAM (Japan Intercultural Academy of Municipalities) each December. This is a course that can be taken by CIRs or ALTs, but I got the impression that the majority of participants are CIRs, which would make sense since CIRs are the ones that do more translating and interpreting generally.

The course takes place over 5 days (Monday to Friday) in Shiga prefecture, near Kyoto.  Shiga prefecture is located to the east of Kyoto and a large area of it is taken up by Lake Biwa, a huge freshwater lake (the biggest in Japan) almost right in the middle of the prefecture, and various Natural Parks. It also has one of only four castles designated as national treasures in the whole of Japan – Hikone Castle (Hikone also has an adorable mascot called Hikonyan – a white cat wearing a horned samurai helmet)

IMG_20181214_135423236_HDR   IMG_20181214_135401072_HDR

I wasn’t allowed to travel to the place in advance again (like I wasn’t for the CIR Mid-Year Conference I talked about in a previous post), so this time me and the other CIR I travelled with had the pleasure of waking up at 4.30am to get ready in time to leave to get our express train which would take us to the station at which we could then get the shinkansen (bullet train) to Kyoto before taking a standard train to our stop where the JIAM building was. Reception opened at 11, we arrived at 12, an hour before the opening ceremony.

Unlike at the Mid-Year Conference, where the first day was mostly opening stuff and slightly forced mingling etc., at the Translation & Interpreting course we had a presentation and workshop on the first day, both interpreting. Needless to say I don’t remember much of it though as I was so tired!

Here’s the schedule:

11.00: Reception opens (for getting dorm room keys, cafeteria card etc.)
13.40 – 14.10: Opening Ceremony, Orientations
14.25 – 15.35: Introduction to Interpreting 1
15.50 – 17.00: Introduction to Interpreting 2
17.40 – 19.00: Mixer

9.25 – 10.35: Orientation 1
10.50 – 12.00: Orientation 2
13.00 – 15.35: Interpreting Basics Practice
15.50 – 17.00: Consecutive Interpreting Practice

9.25 – 10.35: Translation Homework (from the day before) Presentation and Group Work
10.50 – 12.00: Consecutive Interpreting Practice
13.00 – 15.35: Consecutive Interpreting Practice
15.50 – 17.00: Consecutive Interpreting Practice

9.25 – 10.35: Translation Homework (from the day before) Presentation and Group Work
10.50 – 12.00: Consecutive Interpreting Practice
13.00 – 15.35: Consecutive Interpreting Practice
15.50 – 17.00: Consecutive Interpreting Practice

9.25 – 10.35: Symposium (a mock presentation in which all the members of the class participate, some doing presentations in English or Japanese (about 3 mins), some consecutive-interpreting those presentations into the other language, some doing the same but with asking the presenting people questions and others interpreting those questions) Part 1
10.50 – 12.00: Symposium Part 2
12.15 – 12.30: Closing Ceremony


As you can see, there wasn’t actually that much translation work, it was mostly all interpreting, which I found a little disappointing since I mostly do translation at work. However, I guess that precisely because of this – that some people might not get to do much interpreting (and therefore don’t get much practice) – it’s probably kind of important that interpreting is more focused on.

That didn’t mean I was happy about it though, haha. Although the course was useful in its own way, the main takeaway I got from it was that I’m just not really made for interpreting and translating suits me better. And that’s okay. One of the texts we studied even said as much – some people find they enjoy more or are better at translating, others feel the same but with interpreting. Everyone’s different and has different strengths and weaknesses and that’s normal. So don’t be discouraged if you take the course and discover the same thing! But I would recommend taking it once at least. If you do like it, you can take it other years too, as there’s a placement test (that also decides whether you get to go on the course at all if there are more applicants than there are places) so you can take higher level classes each year as you improve.

It’s worth a try right?


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