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E.g., 06/03/2020

European Master's in Translation (EMT) – Putting Quality, Innovation, and Students at the Heart of Translator Training

By: By: Nikola Kunte (EMT) & Inkaliisa Vihonen (LIND)

26 February 2016

The European Master's in Translation (EMT) is a partnership project between the European Commission and higher-education institutions offering master's level translation programs. The EMT is one of the partner projects that we at the Directorate-General of Translation (DGT) of the European Commission feel very proud of. EMT is a quality label for master's-level translator training courses. It is given to higher education programs that meet commonly accepted quality standards and market demands. The EMT promotes quality translator training and ensures future translators are prepared to meet today's requirements for language professionals.

There are currently 63 European translator programs participating in the EMT quality label. They are from 21 different EU member states and 1 non-EU member state (Switzerland). Together, they form the EMT network. These member programs represent a large part of European translation programs and therefore give a valuable overview of today's translator training in Europe. 

Membership in EMT is renewed every 5 years and is subject to fulfilling extensive quality criteria including the following: structure of the program, human resources, infrastructure, and career support & monitoring. In additiong, programs must meet EMT core competencies (shown in the chart below).

The EMT was launched in 2009, and the first call for applications attracted 93 program applications from 24 EU Member States, 2 applications from EU candidate countries and 1 from a country in the European neighbourhood area.  Out of these, 34 program were given member status, a success rate of about 36%. The latest call for applications took place in 2014. 114 applications from 113 universities in 25 Member States and 3 non-EU countries were received. Out of these applications 64 programmes were chosen[1], giving a success rate of over 50 %. One can therefore conclude that the interest by universities has been on the rise, and so has the quality of applications.   

One of the reasons behind the EMT quality label is the increasing demand for multilingual language services and the emergence of new skills requirements for translation professionals. The EMT, as a network of excellence, aims at working towards mapping these skills and including them in the program requirements. The mapping is largely based on the Translator Competence Profile.

In their bi-annual meetings the representatives of the EMT member programs regularly discuss the possible integration of new emerging competences. For this reason and with a view to enhancing the exchange of knowledge and good practices the members have organized themselves in working groups, each dealing with particular challenges for the translator training: employment and future of the profession, tools and technology, traineeships and professionalization and collaborative learning and e-learning. Concrete actions such as surveys or research projects are being developed in these working groups. In addition, EMT works closely with the industry to tap market needs and to enhance student employability through work placements.

Feb 2016: Rytis Martikonis, Director-General for DGT, and Véronique Özkaya, Chair of the Board for GALA, meet to discuss GALA's support of the EMT work placement program.

Industry representatives also participated in the previous EMT selection round by giving advice on the employability efforts taken by the programs. EMT also works closely with other DGT initiatives such as LIND to gain information on market needs through regular industry surveys. It has also launched its first survey on student expectations, putting students at the centre of translator training.  

Students are also at the heart at the GALA Rising Star Contest (formerly EMT Star) where students in EMT programs and from universities worldwide submit videos describing the next generation of language industry professionals. The lucky winners are granted free admission, travel, and accommodation to the annual GALA conference. The experience has been eye-opening to students that may not be aware of the opportunities offered by the industry, and it has also paved the way to concrete job opportunities for some participants.  

Besides the regular EMT activities, there are already several European projects that are spin-offs of the EMT, tackling more specific issues in the translation sphere. Some of the most visible ones are Optimale on the improvement of translator training, TransCert on translator certification, Agora on trans-border traineeships and Qualetra on legal translation. Recently, a rather small follow-up project to Optimale was added to that list, OTCT aiming at a better integration of professionally-oriented practices in translator training curriculum. And a couple of new projects are already in the pipeline of the working groups.

The Directorate-General for Translation sees the EMT as a strategic partnership as it aims at ensuring excellence in European translator training and gives positive impetus for university translation programs in Europe. These positive effects will serve the interest of the DGT in its quality as a large employer, both in-house and freelance, as well as the translation sector as a whole.

EMT priorities also follow the Commission political priorities on enhancing employability and addressing apparent skills gaps in labor markets. There, the cooperation between EMT universities and the language industry is the key, and we look towards industry associations like GALA for sharing ideas on how to take this cooperation even further.   

Nikola Kunte, Programme Manager for EMT
Inkaliisa Vihonen, Programme Manager for LIND


[1] Shortly after one of the programs stopped due to reorganization, and therefore the number of EMT members is currently 63.