Creative ways to pep up your CPD on a budget

Our guest blogger this time is Oliver Lawrence. Oliver is an Italian to English translator and editor specialising in marketing, tourism and contracts. He is also an accomplished peer-to-peer trainer. His Clear Writing course is now in its third edition. It starts on 18 April.

Formal CPD can be a very effective means of improving your skills and knowledge. Naturally, there is a cost attached, as a lot goes into putting together a conference, a course, a book or a webinar packed with valuable information.

But there’s another way to add some zing to your personal development, and I don’t mean the free informal CPD livenupthat we all do, like reading our end clients’ blogs – although that certainly helps. I’m talking about two resources that you may be underusing: your creativity and your colleagues. You can combine a pinch of imagination with a dash of networking to make great CPD.

There are lots of interesting projects you could dream up.

Run a survey. If there’s a topic you’d like to know more about, you could devise some questions to ask other translators. Whether you want to explore word connotations, self-editing practices, or working in your specialist field, draw up a questionnaire and send it out – via SurveyMonkey, as a Word email attachment, or whatever. Then you can share your results by publishing an article, as with yours truly’s survey on tourism translation, which appeared in the ITI Bulletin last year.

Set up a translation slam. This doesn’t have to be an official or public thing; you could just organise a group of friendly colleagues to translate the same text, then put your heads together afterwards to analyse the results and see which translation solutions you like best. In my “back translation slam” project last year, for example, I compared and contrasted the various translated versions with the original English (the Italian source was itself a translation).

As a variant on the slam idea, you could grab a text that also has a published translation – a novel or travel book, say – and translate a few extracts of it yourself. Then you can compare your efforts with the published translation and see what you can learn from that.

Find a CPD buddy. You could get together with someone and review each other’s translations. This might involve collaborating regularly on your respective client jobs, or you could simply swap texts from time to time for discussion. I’ve just got myself a CPD buddy, with the twist that we work in opposite directions (I do IT>EN; she does EN>IT). Hopefully, we should be able to smoke out any gaps in our cultural or linguistic knowledge that might blind us to nuances in the source text.

Form a team. More generally, you could team up with some colleagues and keep each other on your toes. Do a course together and discuss the exercises; set SMART business goals and egg one another on; or keep an open Skype chat to chew over what’s hot in the translation blogosphere. You all have to get on pretty well for this to work long term, but it can be a hoot (and, er, professionally enriching, of course). Many translators are lovely people who are glad to share their expertise and learn something themselves in turn.

There’s no substitute for formal training – or for looking outwards beyond the language industry – and these suggestions aren’t trying replace that. But by injecting a bit of creative zest into your CPD, you can benefit from the wisdom out there in the translation community, make some new contacts, and enjoy yourself in the process.

The only limit, as they say, is your imagination.

(c) Oliver Lawrence. Read Oliver’s own blog. He’s just written a post entitled CPD: the Continuous Professional Debate.  He posits some very interesting ideas!


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