METM14 presentation

How “mentoring” helps build a stronger community of practice for translators and interpreters


Sarah Griffin-Mason, Portsmouth, UK

The Institute of Translation and Interpreting (ITI) is a membership body that aims to represent the interests of 3,000 translators and interpreters, most of whom work in the United Kingdom, or who have English as one side of a language pairing.

Over the last five years, “mentoring” has been explored as a great potential method for mining the human resource latent in the expertise of the ITI membership in a way that can improve the professional practice of members, build a strong community of practice, improve the quality of the translation work of members and, ultimately, contribute to an improved image for ITI members and the translation and interpreting community as a whole, including MET members.

Five years ago, I designed and implemented a pilot mentoring project in the ITI Spanish Network, pairing up qualified members of the ITI with relatively novice translators in order to provide them with targeted feedback on six pieces of work over a period of six months. Pairings were all English>Spanish or Spanish>English and the mentors were asked to offer only areas of specialism in which they had more than five years of working experience. Since then, the scheme has been run on a yearly basis, with the number of pairs increasing to ten in the current cohort.

My current project is to develop these mentoring frameworks in collaboration with the other ITI language and subject networks. The Japanese and German networks have already adopted the scheme and the ITI subject networks have expressed an interest in developing a similar approach to sharing expertise between experienced and inexperienced members or between peers, at an expert level.

In this session I will discuss the benefits and potential pitfalls of such mentoring arrangements through examples drawn from experiences in recent years, providing attendees with a basic framework of ideas that I hope will encourage them to develop their own mentoring offer and to consider both giving and receiving such services in the future.

Sarah Griffin-Mason (MITI, MA, BA Hons, PGCE) is a translator, editor and educator who trained in the Interpress Service in Montevideo, Uruguay in the 1990s after teaching in North Wales, Canning Town and deepest, darkest Dorset. She has worked in the UK as a freelance translator, editor and educator for more than 15 years and has recently taken up a part-time post as lecturer in Translation Studies at the University of Portsmouth. Sarah is Vice Chair of the Institute of Translation and Interpreting where she is actively working for improved Continuing Professional Development advice and provision for ITI members and the translation and interpreting sector as a whole.
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