IWCF’s Translations Department work closely with the Exams Department to help make sure assessment materials are translated into different languages for our global network of training centres.

Paul Kearns is our Translation Supervisor and is responsible for managing the translation process which includes the selection and recruitment of translators, translation quality assurance and the development of linguistic resources.

We interviewed Paul to showcase his expertise and experience within translations.

How many languages do you speak? Which languages are they?

I speak Spanish fluently and can hold a basic conversation in French.

Have you always been passionate about languages? 

I’ve loved languages ever since I was in school where I studied French, Latin and Greek. One of my school friends had an English father and a Venezuelan mother and I was amazed at how they could be chatting away in English one minute and then effortlessly switch to Spanish. From that time, I was hooked on languages.

Did you study a language related degree? 

I have an undergraduate degree in Spanish and Teaching English as a Foreign Language from Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh with a focus on translation and interpreting. I also studied linguistics, French and British Sign Language at university. I’m about to start working on my dissertation for my Masters in Translation Studies.

What experience do you have in translation? 

I’ve worked as a freelance Spanish to English translator for a variety of clients over the years, so I have hands-on experience as a translator. Before joining IWCF, I worked for seven years in a global learning and development company where I was the lead translation coordinator. There I project managed the translation of learning materials, legal documents, websites, social media content, e-learning modules and videos. In that role we published online and printed content in 31 languages. As a member of the Chartered Institute of Linguists I also work with translators, interpreters and educators to promote professional development within the language industry.

If you could learn any other language, what would it be? 

At the moment I’m trying to improve my French, so any spare time is spent on that. I’ve always wanted to learn Italian, so that’s next on the list but the list just gets longer and longer and includes Greek, Danish and Catalan!

Have you ever lived abroad? If yes, where and how long for? 

I spent several months in Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic when I was younger and I lived in Panama for seven years. I also taught English in Seville, Spain for a year.

Do you think living abroad help advance your language skills? 

Definitely, it’s important to be immersed in the culture of the language because that’s when the real fun starts – when you can use the language on a daily basis, make friends and understand what’s going on around you. You can never fully learn a language from a textbook.

What do you like most about being Translator Supervisor? 

At the moment we’re creating a dedicated Translation Department in Montrose and implementing some translation industry standard practices. That’s really exciting because it means we can take translations to a whole new level at IWCF and tackle some of the issues we’ve faced translating content into 17 different languages.

What is the most difficult part of being Translation Supervisor? 

The hardest part is to change perceptions on what translation is and what it isn’t. Most people equate ‘translation’ with ‘Google Translate’ which oversimplifies the translation process and makes it look like a technology driven process which it isn’t. Or people think that just speaking another language makes you a translator. It doesn’t. Translation is a professional activity that requires a specific skill set. You need a very high proficiency in both source and target languages as well as an in-depth understanding of the topic being translated. On a side note, we do not use Google Translate to translate any of our assessment materials only human translators.

What would you like to achieve in the future with the IWCF Translation Team? 

Our main focus at the moment is to improve the translation quality of assessments for candidates. It is a challenge because everyone has their own idea of what quality looks like and that idea can be very subjective. There are some very specific things that are common throughout the translation industry that we are doing to improve quality, but it does take time. In the future we want to reflect the fact that IWCF is a global organisation and translate more multilingual content for members, for example it would be fantastic if our website or Level 1 course was available in languages other than English.

For any translation enquiries please contact Paul.