The lucky door prize winners.

The lucky door prize winners.

Last winter’s NCTA member survey has provided positive feedback that is driving new initiatives.

Something different happened at NCTA’s  General  Meeting  on  May 4, 2013. Instead of hearing from a presenter on an aspect of the translation and interpretation professions, NCTA asked to hear from you. → continue reading



Join in the fun! Meetups start with you!

Our June Picnic was a wonderful opportunity to relax and reconnect! We hope you will join us for the next get-together.

If you would like to plan or assist with NCTA Happy Hours, lunches, or other social events please contact events@ncta.org.


You asked, and we listened. The first round of NCTA-sponsored webinars will begin in 2014.

We are excited to announce that we are launching our new webinar program starting in January 2014. Many of these webinars will be language-specific, so if there is a topic in your language pair that you’d like to hear more about, let us know. Equally, if you have expertise in a given subject and would like to present a webinar, then we’d love to hear from you! Please send all suggestions/comments to continuing-ed@ncta.org. In the meantime, here’s the line-up of webinars for the first part of 2014. All times are Pacific Standard Time. Registration will be opening soon, so please keep an eye out for announcements (Newsflashes and listserv posts), or check our website. → continue reading

Kids! They Translate Into Promise: CAT’s Poetry Inside Out Program

By Ines Swaney

Put a bunch of fifth-graders into a bilingual immersion school, introduce them to poetry, and then teach them to translate it, and what do you get? The sky’s the limit.

Shortly before the start of the ATA Conference in San Francisco, I was asked by Kirk Anderson of ATA to be part of a unique presentation sponsored in part by the San Francisco-based Center for the Art of Translation (CAT). I was to be part of a two-person team scheduled to speak about languages and the translation profession in general to a fifth-grade class at Monroe Elementary School in San Francisco, which has a K-5 Spanish/English immersion program. My partner in the presentation was Tony Beckwith, an ATA colleague from Austin whom I had never met.

Our presentation would take place during a special class period known as “PIO”—Poetry Inside Out, the innovative program developed by NCTA member and CAT President Olivia Sears. In PIO, kids of various backgrounds—many Hispanic, but also Asian, African-American, and Caucasian—are taught poetry, which they learn to translate before beginning to write poems of their own.

Originally the plan was for Tony and me to speak for about five minutes each, followed by questions and answers. Then, if time remained, we would have the opportunity to listen to and enjoy some of the poetry the students had been translating. To begin, Tony pointed to various geographical regions on a world map. Although Tony was born in Argentina, at a young age he moved with his parents to Uruguay. When my turn came, I also used the map to explain that I had been born in Venezuela to parents who had arrived from Hungary.

By a show of hands, we learned that many of the children in this class came from families where a language other than English is spoken at home. Tony and I each commented that our respective home situations while growing up had been similar to theirs, because English was the language predominantly spoken at home by Tony’s family in Argentina and Uruguay, and Hungarian was the language spoken at my home in Venezuela.

Throughout our presentation the children often raised their hands and asked questions, sometimes thoughtful and intelligent, sometimes funny. Tony and I explained the differences between translating and interpreting, the subtleties involved in accurately conveying meaning in another language, how much we enjoy working between English and Spanish and the variety of situations we find ourselves in professionally. For a few minutes we also demonstrated to the students the skill of simultaneous interpreting.

Simultaneous excitement

As Tony proceeded to explain some details about the profession, I interpreted his comments simultaneously into Spanish while noticing the kids’ undivided attention. Most, of course, understood the two languages that could be heard at virtually the same time. We pointed out that speaking more than one language is a definite asset that will undoubtedly enrich any field, occupation or career these kids were to pursue in the future. “Baseball player,” said one kid; “veterinarian” said another, when asked what they’d like to be when they grew up. I then went on to explain how being bilingual would make them more valuable as individuals and employees, and how knowing a second language would enrich their professional prospects in the specific careers they had mentioned.

An audible “Ooooh!,” conveying admiration, could be heard in the classroom when Tony mentioned that he had recently served as Spanish interpreter in Miami for the Democratic presidential candidates’ debate hosted by Univisión. Likewise, the children appeared to be impressed when I confessed to being the Spanish-language recorded voice of the California Lottery. Just by calling the toll-free number 1-800-LOTTERY from any phone from within California they would be able to hear me.

Perhaps that explains why we were made to feel like celebrities at the end of the presentation. Inspired by one student, most of them asked both of us for our autographs. At least one of the boys said to Tony, “when I grow up, I want to do what you do!” From looking at the faces of the rest of the students, we could see that new horizons had been opened to them.

The presentation that we had planned for just five minutes each lasted over an hour, thanks to the enthusiasm and interest on the part of the students. For both Tony and me, being part of this year’s pro-bono activity on behalf of the American Translators Association was one of the highlights of the Conference.

A Visit to Your Local School Could Take You All the Way to Seattle!

By Amanda Ennis and Lillian Clementi

In schools all over the United States, teachers are actively discouraging their students from studying foreign languages because “there aren’t any jobs besides teaching”- and this at a time when language capabilities are more critical to our national security and economic success than ever before. Some educators are so unfamiliar with our profession that they don’t even know the difference between translation and interpreting.

ATA is already working actively to change that. Along with the flashy press coverage the Public Relations Committee has garnered in its efforts to educate the public about translation and interpreting, there is another equally important side to the campaign – one that hums along quietly, often under the radar and away from the glare of the cameras. In 2003, ATA added a school outreach resource center to its website and began urging individual translators and interpreters to use the ready-made, age-appropriate materials now available online at http://www.atanet.org/ata_school/welcome.htm.

In the ten weeks following its debut, the school outreach page had over 8,000 hits. And in 2004, some 6,000 unique visitors have come to the site. From Surrey, UK to Sacramento, CA, translators and interpreters just like you are educating the next generation of language professionals – and the next generation of clients – in classrooms from grade school to graduate school. ATA is now actively recruiting volunteers to speak at schools in your area and to help coordinate the school outreach effort through a national speakers bureau.

And that’s not all. To encourage you to get your feet wet and see how much fun school outreach can be, ATA has launched a school outreach contest, with free registration for the 2005 ATA Annual Conference in Seattle, Washington, going to the winner. To enter, just have someone take a picture of you making a school outreach presentation at your local school or university and send it to the ATA Public Relations Committee at khendzel@asetquality.com (subject line: School Outreach Contest) or at 225 Reinekers Lane, Suite 590, Alexandria, VA 22314. Please include your name and contact information, the date, the school’s name and location, and a brief description of the class. The best photograph will win free registration to the 2005 Annual Conference in Seattle. The deadline for submissions is July 15, 2005, and the winner will be contacted by August 15, 2005. Any member of ATA or of any ATA-affiliated organization is eligible to enter.

We have made enormous strides, but there’s an enormous amount of work still to be done. It’s high time we got serious about this. The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is right now. Join us.

How To
Preparing and delivering an effective school outreach presentation can take as little as three or four hours, and one presentation a year is plenty.
Speakers bureau coordinators will essentially serve as relay points for requests from headquarters and need to commit only an hour or two per month. If you’re interested in volunteering or would like more information, please contact Lillian Clementi (lillian@lingualegal.com) or Amanda Ennis (germantoenglish@earthlink.net).


By Brigitte Keen

From as far away as Monterey, 16 NCTA members drove to the KTEH studios in San Jose in order to volunteer their services on pledge night, Friday, August 15. We were eagerly awaited and five of us were immediately whisked off to take pledges during the BBC news, while the rest of us, who had not been trained before, received our instructions on how to operate the phones and fill out the pledge forms.

In between the BBC news and the next program, “Victor Borge”, we managed to install the new NCTA banner in front of the tables with the telephones. We hope very much that some of you watched the various shows KTEH was broadcasting that evening and can confirm that our efforts were not in vain. We had no idea if the banner was visible when the cameras panned over to the phone volunteers. We also did not know if we were on camera, as we were constantly on the phone taking pledges with relatively short interruptions, from 6 pm until shortly after 10 pm. Some of us caught short glimpses of the programs – the BBC news, Victor Borge: The Great Dane of Comedy, the Mrs. Bradley mysteries and Rumpole of the Bailey.

An excellent dinner was donated by the Los Gatos restaurant “Crimson”. However, we were extremely busy and had hardly started eating, when we were called back into the studio to take pledges. Isn’t it good to be wanted!

KTEH is a relatively small operation, much smaller than KQED. And we were told by Tom Fanella, KTEH’s president, that while KQED is a PBS station and much wealthier, KTEH is a PBS affiliate and does not have the same amount of corporate support as its sister station to the north.

A very nice surprise for those of us who are interested in the inner workings of a television studio was the studio tour we were offered during one of our longer breaks. A volunteer demonstrated all the special video effects which the engineers have at their fingertips, as well as the specialized digital video playback equipment, transmission equipment, etc. Most of the people operating the studio, such as some of the engineers on duty on our night as well as camera people and talent, among them Alan Dale and Victoria Hunter, are volunteers and some are station employees. There are plenty of interesting opportunities to volunteer in a technical or nontechnical capacity for those who have the time and the inclination.

Our goal for the evening was $24,000. However, the enthusiasm of the audience for the evening’s programs was such that we finished the evening having received a total of 323 pledges in the amount of $31,933 for the station! Three cheers for all the volunteers who made it possible!