Translation

Which are the Best-known Mentor Programs for Language Professionals?

Language Mentor

Mentorship, as a practice, dates back to Ancient Greece and has found ground in the modern world as a means of refining skills and professional growth by pairing with a fellow professional with potentially beneficial skills and experience. The word “mentoring” comes from the Mentor, a character in Homer’s Odyssey, who was given the task of educating the son of Odysseus, named Telemachus. The relationship between teacher and student developed further in ancient Greece with the introduction of the Socratic method of inquiry focused on teacher-student discussion. In the language profession, what are the mentoring programs that benefit language professionals? Perhaps the best-known mentoring programs for language professionals are the ATA mentoring program and the ProZ.com mentoring program.

The ATA mentoring program

The ATA mentoring program is meant for members of the American Translators Association (ATA). Any member of ATA can apply to become a mentee to one of the numerous talented translators and interpreters. The mentee is matched to a mentor and they decide jointly on the goals and the milestones for the mentoring year. Mentees are expected to take an active role and drive the mentoring relationship, while mentors are there to provide their advice and expertise. The ATA president for 2013-2015 has explained why the role of the mentee as an active learner is so important: “And because it’s predicated on the learner articulating his or her goals and driving the learning, it reinforces these same skills, which are vital to success.”

Mentors and mentees spend almost two hours per month communicating and making sure that the goals set by the mentees are met. Many former mentees are now active and successful mentors, giving back to the same program they benefitted from and further highlighting the success of the ATA mentoring program. In the ATA mentoring program, mentors and mentees are not matched by language but are rather matched by fields of expertise and mentees’ goals and interests. The ATA mentoring program draws from a database of seventy mentors who brings their skills to the program.

ProZ.com mentoring program

The ProZ.com mentoring program, on the other hand, is specific for language and specialization/field of expertise. Since 2011, there have been over 160 pairings of mentors and apprentices and the program has been described as “an excellent initiative, helping budding translators dive into the complex, rich and exciting world of being a self- employed linguist.”

Topics that are discussed include tips to get established in the industry, subject matter expertise, marketing tips, and software usage, among others. Both parties agree on the amount of time and commitment and report to the ProZ.com support team to share their feedback on the program and provide suggestions based on their experiences. Mentors are also encouraged to provide feedback and edit some of the projects delivered by their mentees, in order to help them with concrete real-life work.

This article is written by a professional writer, Ilaria Ghelardoni, associated with Ulatus.

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