Workshop on Technical Translation

ITIA Technical Translation Workshop FlyerTo mark the official launch of my book Scientific and Technical Translation Explained, I will be giving a workshop on technical translation at the Irish Writers’ Centre in Dublin on 20th October. This workshop is part of the Irish Translators’ & Interpreters’ Association’s continuing professional development series and will give participants a hands-on introduction to some of the key issues in technical translation.

Some of the topics which will be covered include:

  • What technical translation is and why it is so important;
  • Typical technical texts and their features;
  • Analysing texts and developing translation strategies;
  • Developing your writing skills;
  • Understanding your audience;
  • Common pitfalls and how to deal with them.

For details on how to register, visit the ITIA website.


::: Update :::
My PowerPoint presentation from this workshop is now available here.


Helping Learners Figure it out for Themselves

Image via www.gourmetmomonthego.comI’ve been working a lot lately on creating e-learning lessons based on branching scenarios. Where branching scenarios differ from traditional lessons is that they are less linear and they put learners in specific situations where they have to make decisions and then see the results of those decisions play out. In cases where we’re trying to change attitudes, approaches or develop learners’ skills (as opposed to just knowledge), branching scenarios help us move towards an interactive model where learners make the same types of decisions they’d make in a real-world environment.


As an instructional designer what you’re trying to do is move away from a one-way model of learning where you just supply information without any real learner interaction or engagement. I think most people have taken some sort of course where the biggest challenge was to stay awake long enough to click the “Next” button over and over and over again! Branched interactions come in useful when you’re trying to help people think about problems and make appropriate decisions. We’re not so concerned about specific, step-by-step procedures as we are on the principles that guide those decisions.
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Starting out as a translator or interpreter?

I don’t normally post announcements about events and training courses here but I though I would make an exception just this once. You’ll figure out why soon enough! The Irish Translators’ & Interpreters’ Association is organising a full-day Continuing Professional Development event for anyone who is considering a career as a translator or interpreter. In addition to sessions on working as a freelancer, translation technology and starting out as an interpreter, I’ll be contributing two sessions: one on developing translation specialisms and the other on marketing your services online.

The event will take place on 12th November from 10.30-15.15 at the Irish Writers Centre in Dublin and admission is free to members and non-members alike. The organisers do ask that you send an email to give them an idea of numbers if you plan attending. For more details, go to the ITIA website.

A number of people asked me for a copy of the slides I used for this event. You can download them in PDF format here.


The Wanderer Returns

A sabre and a dodgy beard is all it takes to turn an academic into something a bit cooler (via

All it takes is a sabre and dodgy hair to turn an academic into something a bit more heroic and dashing (via

After what seems like ages, I’ve finally managed to get writing again. I won’t bore you with the details but, suffice it to say that, my pre-Christmas workload, combined with atrocious weather in Sheffield and Dublin over the Christmas and a car that doesn’t like icy roads so much conspired to keep me far too busy to blog.

Last week we had our annual graduation ceremony here in Sheffield where we get to see our students off, wish them well and wear ridiculous robes inspired by medieval priests. I’m almost ashamed to say it but I love the pomp and pageantry of a good graduation ceremony: the robes, the processions, the trumpets. Okay so in England I have to sit – I mean stand – through the English national anthem, something that doesn’t really sit right with an Irish person but I’m a guest in their country so I’ll respect their ways. As long as they don’t expect me to sing it. My mother once told me of various Irish patriots who, when required to take an oath of allegiance to the Crown in order to take up their seats as MPs in the British parliament, would cross their fingers so that they could avoid any crises of conscience or general feelings of dirtiness afterwards. Childish? Perhaps, but the rebel in me likes it.

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Counteracting government language policy

Inexplicable and ill-advised changes in the English education system and National Curriculum as a result of the Education Act (2002) have meant that fewer and fewer school students are learning languages at GSCE level and beyond. Where once languages were a compulsory part of the curriculum at second level, they are now an optional subject. Given that learning languages isn’t always the easiest thing in the world and given the pressure on students to achieve top grades, it’s not really surprising that there has been a fall-off in the numbers of students picking up a “hard” subject like a language. This situation hasn’t been helped by bleating from British industry who decry the lack of literacy and numeracy skills among school leavers while forgetting to recognise the importance of language. Now if you compare this to Ireland where a recent article said that one third of Irish employers wanted Chinese taught in schools, you can see the different attitudes to core skills. The fact is that speaking a foreign language is vital in this day and age and literacy shouldn’t simply be restricted to our own mother tongue.

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