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Training for the Language Industry: Letter from the Q2 Guest Editor

By: Uwe Muegge (CSoft and MIIS) - CSOFT International, Ltd.

22 May 2014

In this issue of GALAxy, Guest Editor Uwe Muegge introduces the various localization training opportunities that are available today and invites you to explore ways to engage within this exciting, young industry.

If the members of my LinkedIn network are any indication, the vast majority of localization professionals — in the U.S. and elsewhere — have little to no formal training in localization. Is that a bad thing? Not necessarily! On-the-job training can be just as effective, or even more so, as any formal localization training program in preparing newcomers for a career in our relatively young industry. However, if ‘learning-by-doing’ means figuring out things by oneself with little guidance, my sense is that this path into our profession is longer and harder than it needs to be. In other words: Taking advantage of the various localization training opportunities that are available today is typically the fastest way to become a fully productive member of the professional localization community.

Holding senior management positions at both China’s largest localization company and the largest full-time localization Masters program in the U.S., I live at the corner of localization and localization training. So I could not have been happier when GALA asked me to be the guest editor of a GALAxy issue dedicated to localization training. Based on conversations with many industry professionals, there seems to be a general lack of awareness of the — admittedly few — educational programs available to aspiring localization practitioners.

The stated goal of this issue is to demonstrate that there are in fact a number of training opportunities available in the young and highly technical localization field. Of course, there are literally hundreds of programs available all over the world to those who are looking for training as a traditional linguist, i.e. in the fields of translation and/or interpretation.

If you are curious: Here is a brief discussion of how my technology-driven approach to localization training is different from traditional translation programs that focus primarily on linguistic and cultural competencies/issues.

The author speaking at an IMUG event, which could be called the longest-running localization training program in the English-speaking world (photo: CSOFT International)

As this issue of GALAxy is dedicated to localization training programs, I am very pleased that many of the leading institutions offering this type of service are represented here. The spectrum of articles ranges from offerings that have been around for a relatively long time, such as the IMUG series of localization events (celebrating their 25th anniversary this year) and the MSc in Multilingual Computing and Localisation from the University of Limerick (offered since 1997), to emerging programs like the MPS in Translation and Localization Project Management at the University of Maryland (in its first year) and the Localization Training Portal (going live this month), and one in between: the Certificate in Localization offered by the University of Washington (in its fourth year). Looking at things from a different perspective, these articles represent every type of educational opportunity: from individual events or courses to certificates to full-fledged graduate degree programs — both in classroom and online settings, all over the world.

The articles about individual programs are framed by two contributions that take on a broader view: The first illustrates that when it comes to language training, GALA is all but a passive bystander. In fact, GALA is driving a number of educational initiatives, on their own as well as in cooperation with partner organizations. The last article is something of a call to action, arguing that cloud computing makes teaching translation technology/localization courses feasible for any educational institution, regardless of size and (IT) budget.

I hope the information contained in this issue will inspire newcomers to our industry and seasoned professionals alike to take advantage of the wide variety of training opportunities available today.

Uwe Muegge is a senior director at Beijing-based language service provider CSOFT International. He is also the Coordinator of the MA program in Translation and Localization Management at the Monterey Institute of International Studies and has served in national and international language standardization bodies. Uwe Muegge has over fifteen years of professional experience, having worked on both the vendor and buyer side of the localization industry.