Sunday, January 6, 2013

Do We Need to Specialize in the Translation Industry?

Translators usually start their career as translation providers in a variety of fields starting from translations of diplomas, academic transcripts, certificates to highly technical texts which require not only very good linguistic skills but also deep and expensive knowledge in the particular field of expertise.

Probably you wake up in the morning feeling nervous because you have to deal with a new topic and this repeats almost every single day of your career. Well, your argument could well be because you want to earn more money but have you ever considered specializing in a certain area as a chance to improve your knowledge and income and have a more balanced everyday life? You can better concentrate on what you are translating and wait for the expected text to come rather than distributing your energy and time on various subjects. We all know that a translator should specialize on what he or she is passionate about. So first do enjoy the subject you have decided to deal with in depth and last but not least check if this area will bring your good financial support. Wasting your time on topics that prove to leading you to bad income are not beneficial for you at all. So loving and managing the area are important points when making your choice!

Before focusing on any field, you have to assess your strong and weak features and then subscribe to some national business daily newspaper or magazine. Then you will see what is in demand and decide what the best match is for you! Time is passing and you make your mind about which area to specialize in. You have to start contacting business people from the chosen industry; describe your experience and try to learn more about their work and connections abroad. Also, make sure that you do not show them you are desperately looking for work: try to obtain information about the possible professional industry events you could attend and go for them. Also, ask about any sub specialties you can further focus on so that you could be very outstanding in the competitive translation world.

At the very beginning you might have little or no experience in your chosen field of expertise: you may contact agencies but the lack of experience may lead you to nowhere and put you in a vicious circle to gain experience but not having the chance to do it. What you can do is networking or meeting with colleagues who specialize in the same field and ask them to subcontract some work to you (either translation or proofreading). All professional translators need some time to have a break and escape from the daily routine so this is your time to gain experience. Also, do attend training courses or workshops where you will meet colleagues and agencies interested in specializing in the same field as you!
Do not be afraid of specializing, take the subject you feel most comfortable to focus on and go for it!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


For the past two years I have been fortunate enough to talk at the ICT Links into Languages conference in Southampton. It is a weekend of learning, sharing, collaborating and sheer unadulterated joy. This year's conference will be taking place on 9th-10th February 2013 and you can sign up for it here This year's theme is ‘Jail breaking the MFL Classroom’ and the keynote speakers are the fabulous duo of Joe Dale and Isabelle Jones. I am delivering two talks/workshops. The first is called "Triptico Tips to jailbreak the languages classroom" This session will illustrate how to use the Triptico resource application to liven up your classroom and turn learning on its head. There will be practical demonstrations of the organisational tools such as the group sorter, timer and score board. I will also demonstrate the higher order thinking tools such as the hexagonal Think Link resource and show how it can be used for promoting Solo taxonomy. The session will give specific examples from my own classroom practice as listed here and here as well as feedback from the pupils. There will also be plenty of time for participants to create their own resources which they can then take away with them, as well as showing them how to access the files already created in the likes of the Twitterati Dropbox. The second session is entitled "LITERALLY JAILBREAKING THE LANGUAGES CLASSROOM" This session will look at how to move the pupils' learning outside the languages classroom with practical examples which I have done with my own pupils including using Posterous to moblog a language trip, Voicethread to collaborate with other language learners around the world, Animoto to create videos such as the videos my pupils made on why our school should be the venue for the 2020 Olympics and QR codes to create a speaking wall with videos created by pupils on a variety of topics which other pupils can then access using their mobile phones to scan the QR code. This conference is an excellent opportunity to meet like-minded language teachers, learn some new stuff, share ideas and enjoy the excellent atmosphere. The Show and Tell event last year had us tweeting for months afterwards! If you want to catch some of the buzz in advance, search for #ililc3 on Twitter or join the MFL Twitterati

Friday, November 16, 2012

PUPPET SHOW (and show and show..)

Form 1 got very excited this week. Not only did we do dialogues using puppets but we used my iPad to record it. Result! (apparently) On a serious note, using the puppets meant that the shyer pupils including those with conditions that make them reluctant to participate in the whole class scenario fully embraced the whole experience. You can view all 87 pupils (or rather their puppets) here


I have been doing a lot of reading re coaching recently , as well as my daily Twitter fix. The two met nicely this week with this blogpost as well as @fullonlearning's blogposts about Marginal Learning Gains which tied in with the concept of a 'preferred future' when coaching, whereby coachees envisage what they want their future to be like and how they will get there. I will leave it to the others to explain the detail much better than I could, but we started our journey in Grosvenor this week with my Form 5 and Upper 6 classes. We talked about the marginal gains which contributed to the huge success of the British cycling team. I was impressed how much they already knew and how attentive they were to the discussion. They then got a bicycle wheel template to fill in. Form 5 filled one in individually after a quick chat about the key areas to consider. Theirs is in preparation for their speaking controlled assessment. The idea is that by the time they leave the room at the end of the speaking exam, they will have ticked off every segment of their bicycle wheel. We talked about what they would do in class, at home, considering the mark scheme and practical things such as drinking water and stress busters.
They are going to do a general one, for their Spanish GCSE. Upper Sixth are also going to prepare their own individual wheel but as a (small) class, we decided to make a wheel similar to the King Lear one here to prepare for the literature essay. We are looking at the mark scheme and breaking down essay techniques as well as looking at other things we can do to achieve our preferred future. I'll post the completed wheel here. The exciting thing is that other teachers in school are enthused by this too and it will tie in so well if the pupils are able to connect their learning in this way.


When you have 3 sets each of Forms 1-3 with 26 pupils in each set, there is quite a lot of marking involved. And with a renewed focus on presentation in our department (yes we are quite fussy about all that) then what better way to save your nerves and your red pen, than to order yourself a customised stamper courtesy of
For those who don't speak Spanish, it says "Date, title, ruled in red" As I said, it's the little things..

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Teachmeet presentation that never was

Here was my possible presentation I prepared for Friday. I am undecided whether the gods smiled on me or not, given the week I had had. It is nearly worse sitting through the whole of a teachmeet waiting to see if the random name generator throws your name up or not!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Teachmeet Belfast 2

Last night saw the second teach meet in Belfast this year, an impressive feat given that it was also the second teachmeet ever in Northern Ireland. And for those not in the know, no, Teachmeet is not a teacher dating agency, as was suggested at one stage, but a gathering of educators and interested others wanting to share ideas that work and be inspired by others. See for more details and the presentations from the March Teachmeet, also in Stranmillis thanks to Tom Jackson of Miscrosoft Partners in Learning.

There was a certain irony that the wonderful Daithi Murray was thrown up first by the Fruit machine, given that he didn't get to speak last time, ad also given that he and Barry Corrigan are the two movers and shakers behind the whole event. Daithi talked about how his department are using the Flipped Classroom model, creating videos for pupils view at home, with deeper learning then enabled  in the classroom.  As Daithi pointed out, in this way, content delivery is enabled outside classroom which means that teachers have more time to spend one-to-one with pupils, helping them with difficulties.  The VLE Edmodo comes into its own, with pupils able to ask questions about their learning. Those pupils who struggle can watch the video as many times as they want or need to and there is more time for higher order thinking skills. Daithi's final words were reassuring:  the flipped classroom is not an all or nothing experience. This is one idea I will definitely be incorporating. 

Kierna  Corr talked about the amazing outdoor activities that the kids at her nursery do (which parent in the room didn't think "I wish my child went there"?!) whilst Heather Watson talked about Stem at KS2 using the brilliant Dublin Science Gallery.  Damian Watson did a presentation on using data effectively with students, taking into account the Department of Education report "Every School a good school" I liked the report generator  and the use of green, yellow and red in the spreadsheet to highlight strengths and weaknesses. Damian uses mail merge to produce a report to email to students
telling them what they have done well, the areas which need a little more work and topics causing difficulties. 

Barry Corrigan ended the first session with his two minute talk "Life of Pi" about drawing on the Northern Ireland curriculum's 

The Big Picture Rather than give pupils the answers, this encourages them to ask themselves "How can I make it work?" Barry uses Scratch with the pupils which works on c2k. In terms of peer assessment, pupils checked out each other's games and helped each other with issues. 

After the interval, Corinne Latham talked about her favourite apps for the iPad. Videoscribe is an app for creating videos, Glibe is a writing tool and Creative Book Builder where you make your own books and make them an iBook. Corinne also mentioned the humble voice memo as an excellent tool for giving personalised feedback. 

Next was Alex Bellars, the wonderful @bellaale of MFL Twitterati fame, joined us via the wonder of Elliminate, and talking about "Fun with a cheap visualiser" Amongst other ideas, Alex talked about using the webcam button for screen shots, doing live writing for the whole class to see and importing a screen grab to IWB.  This is such a clever idea for Assessment for learning, where you can show a pupil's work to the whole class or sharing answers produced using 'ini whiteboards in whole class or group activities. 

The charismatic and inspirational Damian McHugh was up next talking about using Voicethread with his Geography classes. Pupils comment on the photos using voice, video or text. The Voicethreads Damian shared included feedback from people living in earthquake zones and Vietnam War veterans. I loved this presentation and it filled me with enthusiasm for Voicethread all over again. 

Richard Mulcahy did a brief but brilliant talk on Movie plenaries. He put a chair in a net tent, pupisl one by one ran in, shouted one word at the camera to represent their learning and then jumped off the chair, as the next ran in. A simple yet brilliant assessment of learning and one which I fully intend to adapt for my own classroom. 

Another gifted speaker up next, Tim Manson who spoke about the 3 habits of highly effective teachers with reference to Steve Covey. Here are his key ideas:

  •    Be creative - teach each lesson in a different way , never teach the same lesson twice 
  •    We show it so it comes back at us. Model it, scaffold their thinking and response 
  •    John Tomsett - never do in the classroom what you can do when students go home
  •    Have a regular mechanism of dialogue with pupils, get feedback re activities - did they like it?
  •    Learning conversations. Listen. What can I do better? Your impulse is to defend yourself, but bite your tongue and take the feedback. 
  •    ETI reflective teacher Did I make a difference today and how do I know?
  •    Own your own professional development 
Simon McLean came up to talk about Digital storytelling, with the aim of developing narrative, thinking about the plot, and to mature their writing. Simon is a great fan of the Toontastic App, with the Story arc, where all parts of the story are visualised.  The second app was the great Rory's Story Cubes app and lastly came Comic Life for iPad. 

To finish off the evening Chynel McCrink showed us an excellent video she made with iMovie using the newscast theme about the VLE Edmodo Chynel invites parents to view their child's page, she uses the calendar to set key dates and work, the quiz to assess learning and she adds links and google docs. Whilst using Edmodo, she ends up teaching netiquette re appropriate online behaviour. 

I cannot enthuse enough about how amazing it is to come to events like these, to leave enthused and inspired by your peers. The next one in Northern Ireland is taking place in The Nerve Centre in Derry, organised by @medv2 and @dmchugh675