METM19 presentation

Get the message: editors/translators teaching presenting skills to early-career researchers 

Maria Sherwood-Smith, Leiden, Netherlands; Joy Burrough-Boenisch, Renkum, Netherlands

An editor’s or translator’s role in helping clients in academia to get their message across need not focus exclusively on text genres like research articles or theses: editing and translation skills can also be applied to improving presentations, in which both speech and the written word are important. This can be a financially and intellectually rewarding – and enjoyable – way for editors and translators to extend their client base. 

Focusing on the skills academics and researchers must master in order to give successful oral presentations, the presenters describe how, when teaching these skills to Research Master or PhD students at two Dutch universities (Leiden and Erasmus Medical Centre, Rotterdam), they draw on their editing and translation knowledge. The students (of psychology or biomedicine) are international. Almost all are non-native speakers of English; all are exposed to the Dutch-influenced English prevailing in Dutch universities, where graduates are generally taught in English. They need to be helped to speak confidently and communicate their story effectively in their speech and through visual aids (slides and/or posters). Their aim: if not to achieve parity with peers in Anglophone countries, at least to get their message across effectively and professionally.

After briefly jointly introducing the shared context and challenges, the presenters will each describe their own approach. In a joint summing-up, they will reflect on similarities and differences between their approaches, how they apply their editing/translating insights when teaching presentation skills, and the insights and benefits they themselves have gained from teaching presentation skills. They aim to reveal the advantages of cross-fertilization among editing, translation and teaching and to inspire other editors and translators to extend their services beyond conventional text editing and translation. 

The presentation is intended for language professionals who provide language support to researchers, whether as editors, translators or teachers.

About the presenters

Joy Burrough-Boenisch is a freelance editor and translator for scientists and academics, a teacher of scientific English and a trainer of language professionals. She is a founder and honorary member of SENSE (the Society of English-language professionals in the Netherlands). Her PhD thesis is on Dutch scientific English. She has given workshops for language professionals in various European countries, and for the European Commission.

Maria Sherwood-Smith is a lecturer in Academic English at the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences in Leiden and at VU University Amsterdam, and also works as a freelance translator and editor. She has a degree in French and German and a doctorate in medieval literature. Maria’s translation work has included several monographs by German and Dutch academics, mainly in the fields of history, art history and theology. Her editing work spans both the humanities and the social sciences.