Coláiste na hÉireann/Gaelchultúr has been offering the Postgraduate Diploma in Translation since 2013 and the course will be available again this year, from September. Nuachtlitir Ghaelchultúir spoke to two students who have recently obtained the qualification to find out how the course has benefited them.
Although my family doesn’t speak Irish, I loved the language since I was at school. I did a degree in Irish but later spent a number of years working abroad and I wasn’t using the language in my daily life. When I heard that there were opportunities for Irish language translators in the European institutions I decided to apply for the Postgraduate Diploma in Translation with Coláiste na hÉireann/Gaelchultúr to improve my Irish. At that time I was working in London but because it’s a part-time course, I was able to do it and continue working. Some of the classes took place online and I used to travel to Dublin once a month for the full-day sessions.
I really enjoyed the course. The lecturers created a very friendly atmosphere in the classes and I immediately felt at ease. The standard of teaching was very high. Because the class was small, we were able to have direct contact with the lecturers and they were always ready to answer questions and provide whatever help we needed.
The grammar and translation classes were very interactive and we had an opportunity to undertake practical exercises, which really helped me improve my written Irish. Before I started the Diploma I had no experience of translating Irish but by the end of the course I felt confident enough to work as a freelance translator and undertake large projects.
My goal was to get a job as an Irish language translator in one of the European Union institutions. Thanks to the skills I learned on the Postgraduate Diploma in Translation, I achieved that goal and am now working as a translator with the Irish Language Unit of the European Commission.
Although I was a fluent Irish speaker from school I always knew that I wasn’t grammatically accurate. This gap in my knowledge bothered me for years but I didn’t have the opportunity to do anything about it.
When my first child was born in 2013 I wanted to speak Irish to her but I lacked confidence because I knew I couldn’t teach her accurate Irish. At the same time, I began to think that it would be good to enhance my language skills for professional reasons.
By coincidence I heard about Gaelchultúr around that time because they provided a course in the state organisation where I work. This inspired me and I decided to do a higher level course. In fact, I thought I'd do a course somewhere else – I felt that the Postgraduate Diploma in Translation would be too long. After attending an open day in Gaelchultúr's education centre I changed my mind – the course would be long but it was clear that it would be comprehensive and that I would have a much higher standard of Irish at the end of it.
Now that I’ve completed the Diploma, I’ve no doubt that I made the right decision. The course is challenging and although the teachers are friendly and kind, they make you aware of all your mistakes. But that kind of feedback is essential if you’re to make progress in any language. Students are required to submit assignments regularly, which ensures you’re getting practice and feedback on an ongoing basis.
After completing this course you’ll have translation skills as well as editing skills and, in addition, you’ll be able to write more accurate Irish. These skills are quite rare these days, even among fluent speakers and native speakers, so you should have a significant advantage if you’re looking for a job in the Irish language sector in Ireland or Europe.
In my case, although I’m not currently working through Irish professionally, I feel a sense of relief and confidence that I now have the appropriate skills to allow me to go in that direction in the future, if that’s what I want to do. Above all, I’m pleased with the progress I’ve made and am proud to be able to pass on what I’ve learned to the next generation.
I would recommend the Postgraduate Diploma in Translation to anyone who is serious about achieving a high standard in written Irish.