The MATI blog features articles pertaining to translation and interpretation. Subject matter includes issues pertaining to the field in the form of explorations into language, methodology and technology, book reviews, biographies, notes on presenters and meeting summaries. The views, opinions and statements expressed within each posting do not necessarily reflect the position of MATI as a whole.
  • 10/03/2021 3:03 PM | Catherine Breckenridge (Administrator)

    By Meghan Konkol, ATA director and an ATA-certified French>English freelance translator

    Have you been keeping up with professional development, networking, and the latest technology solutions for translators and interpreters? As a language professional, you can find all this and more through MATI’s parent organization, the American Translators Association (ATA). ATA offers several membership categories, with most individuals joining as an Associate or Student member. After joining, members can obtain Active (or voting) status through a quick and easy application process.

    ATA is the largest professional association in the United States for translators and interpreters, counting over 9,000 members. ATA members need not be located in the US; they can be based anywhere in the world. There’s truly something for everyone in ATA, whether you’re a student or recent graduate of a T&I program, a career-changer, or a longtime translator or interpreter.

    Below are some of the benefits you can enjoy when you join ATA. When you become a member, be sure to check out our member orientation session, a livestreamed event offered every few months, to learn more about these benefits and how to take advantage of them.

    • Division membership: ATA Divisions are groups of ATA members working in specific languages or areas of practice, such as the Italian Language Division and the Educators Division. ATA currently has 22 Divisions, and members can join as many as they wish. Divisions offer resources including message boards, social media groups, webinars, podcasts, and newsletters.
    • Language Services Directory: ATA members can set up a profile on the ATA Directory showing their language pairs, ATA certification, interpreting credentials, education, areas of expertise, and contact information. Clients seeking your services can find you here and send you requests.
    • Business Practices: The online Business Practices community, facilitated by the Business Practices Education Committee, provides a space for ATA members to discuss business questions and the latest technology and industry developments relevant to professional translators and interpreters.
    • Free and discounted webinars: ATA has an active webinar schedule, and many are offered for free or at discounted prices for ATA members. The Back to Business Basics series, free for members, provides business tips for translators and interpreters whether they are experienced or just starting out. ATA also releases a free on-demand webinar recording for ATA members each month. You can access the webinar anytime throughout the month and catch up on hot topics you may have missed.
    • Mentoring Program: ATA’s Mentoring Program offers matching services to members at different stages in their career. Mentees set their specific professional goals and work with their mentor over the course of six months, with the option of extending to one year.
    • Discounts on services, tools, and software: ATA members can enjoy discounts on essentials such as CAT tools, financial services, and professional liability insurance.

    Your ATA membership pays back with direct local support to MATI, too. Remember to indicate that you are a MATI member on your ATA membership application. ATA calculates the number of members who have indicated membership in their local chapter and issues each chapter a rebate check.

    With all these benefits and more at your fingertips, you’ll find a wide range of support, education, and networking within a community of thousands of other language professionals. We hope you’ll join us—and when you do, register for an upcoming member orientation and say hello!

    Learn more about ATA membership:

    Hear directly from ATA members in this video:

    ATA’s mission is to promote the recognition of professional translators and interpreters, to facilitate communication among its members, to establish standards of competence and ethics, to provide its members with professional development opportunities, and to advocate on behalf of the profession.

    Meghan Konkol, MA, CT is an ATA director and an ATA-certified French>English freelance translator specializing in international development, marketing and communications, and human resources. She received her MA in French>English translation from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee in 2010. She serves as chair of ATA’s Membership Committee, and also serves as the coordinator of ATA’s School Outreach Program.

  • 10/03/2021 2:59 PM | Catherine Breckenridge (Administrator)

    When Alexandra Wirth took over as Wisconsin Court Interpreter Program Manager in February 2021, she knew she was accepting a big responsibility at a critical moment. Courts around the state had recently begun using video remote interpreting (VRI) for hearings being held via Zoom due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Judges, clerks, and interpreters needed training in how to provide high quality remote interpreting services to courts. MATI board member and inforMATIon contributor Kelley D. Salas spoke with Wirth recently to learn more about it.

    inforMATIon: How did court interpreting change in Wisconsin in response to the pandemic, and what does it look like now?

    Alexandra Wirth: Wisconsin had to act very fast to allow access to justice. The need for video remote interpreting had been recognized by the state, and a pilot program was underway in the northern counties of Wisconsin prior to the pandemic. The pandemic catapulted the idea, and Zoom became the easiest route to address the need for VRI. Though Zoom was not engineered for court use, it provides the means to do remote interpretation. By now, most interpreters who actively work in Wisconsin are very familiar with the nuances of Zoom and have gone above and beyond to adapt to the new conditions of work that are often very hard.   

    inforMATIon: With the use of more video remote interpreting, what steps did your office take to ensure high quality court interpreting services?

    Alexandra Wirth: We started to train court staff in terms of best practices for VRI, technology troubleshooting, and walkthrough sessions. We offered demos to show clerks and judges how to use the simultaneous interpreting feature in Zoom, with interpreters who volunteered their time to train court staff. People are under the assumption that VRI is very easy, and that the interpreter perhaps works “less,” only because they are working from home. We needed to make sure that we established certain parameters so that the courts and staff understand that fatigue is still an issue, even if the interpreter is working from home. Zoom fatigue affects all participants, and interpreters have the added demands of VRI, such as toggling between languages, making sure transitions are smooth between partners, monitoring several devices during team interpreting, acoustic shock, and difficulties to interject and ask for clarifications. To protect against fatigue and preserve the accuracy of the interpretation, it’s important to staff two interpreters for longer hearings on Zoom, just like we would in the courtroom. The fact that I am a certified interpreter has helped tremendously in advocating for the right work conditions for interpreters across the state as we transitioned to VRI.

    inforMATIon: What kind of preparation is required for video remote interpreting?

    Wirth: VRI requires not only subject-matter preparation, but interpreters also have to take care of technical issues that were never part of their jobs before. Interpreters train on different VRI platforms, invest in headsets with noise cancelling and acoustic shock protection, and purchase faster internet connectivity to meet the demands of VRI and to make sure the conditions of work at home are met. For a freelancer, this is an investment that was not planned for.

    inforMATIon: What would you say to someone who has just had a challenging experience with video remote interpreting in court?

    Wirth: Don’t give up on it. Video remote interpreting is a must in today’s world. It’s not going away.

    Interview conducted by Kelley D. Salas for inforMATIon. Kelley D. Salas is an ATA-certified Spanish>English translator and editor specializing in nonfiction and children’s literature. She is an experienced medical interpreter and a certified court interpreter in Wisconsin and Illinois. Salas serves on the MATI board of directors.

  • 12/22/2020 8:30 AM | Catherine Breckenridge (Administrator)

    by Enric Mallorquí-Ruscalleda, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, Board Director, Midwest Association of Translators and Interpreters

    This fall, 28 of my students in the undergraduate translation studies course I teach at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) attended the annual MATI conference. The idea to have students participate was something we had discussed with IUPUI Professor Emeritus Dr. Enrica Ardemagni. Dr. Ardemagni was a founder of MATI, and also helped establish the undergraduate translation certificate program at IUPUI. She deserves much of the credit for the healthy status of the translation profession in the Midwest, and for creating a bridge between the academy and the professional world of translation and interpreting.

    Among the activities that we thought about with Dr. Ardemagni was student participation in the annual MATI conference. This was recently carried out with a total of 28 IUPUI’s undergraduate students, all of them students of Spanish 323: Introduction to Translating Spanish & English, which I have been teaching regularly at IUPUI for almost three years now.

    In addition to the transfer of knowledge that I intend to provide students with in class, both on a theoretical and practical level, with this activity I also sought to train the students with the goal for them to achieve a higher translation competence and to make them aware of the importance of life-long learning and education in the field of translation studies; I also intended to use this practice, although not limited to the students' exposure, to further the following:

    1. To offer them possibilities to hear about other perspectives and other practitioners, problems, solutions, and concerns among professional translators: daily challenges, management of a translation project, etc., which cannot always be best illustrated in class due to the amount of topics we cover in an introductory class and with only 15 weeks to do so.
    2. Of particular interest has been to relate the above mentioned with the characteristics and specificities that the work of the translator/interpreter has acquired in this era of the Covid-19 pandemic.
    3. To allow students to establish an always necessary professional networking.
    4. To help students build up their respective resumés with meaningful professional activities even during their tenure as undergraduate students.
    5. To make them aware of the importance of life-long learning and education in the field of translation studies.

    More specifically, the task I asked them to complete with this participation at MATI’s annual conference was to attend at least one full session and write a critical report in which, after summarizing the content of the session, they would close it with a critical commentary on both what they had studied in class (the book used for the first part of the course, when they attended the conference, is Jeremy Munday's well-known book, Introducing Translation Studies: Theories and Applications).

    Because my students are, after all, the real protagonists of the exercise, together with the speakers of the different sessions; it’s been interesting to read their opinions about what they have learned in the different sessions.

    One student wrote: “Overall, I think that this conference was extremely helpful and insightful about what it is like to be a translator and what you can do to assure that you are being valued and appreciated in the workplace…I learned that you must always have the proper equipment for translating, create a contract for yourself, and never let anyone devalue your work. I am very grateful for the opportunity to attend this conference and look forward to using the information that I have learned in the future.”

    My students’ comments on their respective experiences, considering it was the first time for them taking a translation class, and that the MATI conference was held during the first month of this particular class, could not be more positive, based on the enthusiastic feedback received from them. Without any doubt this will be an activity that I will keep implementing in my translation classes; I have been doing this for years in my literary classes, but this was the first time in a translation class.

    The fact that I had the pleasure, honor, and privilege to be able to be part of the organizing committee of the conference this year with a group of outstanding translators/interpreters and even better human beings, helped me a lot to be able to open this opportunity to students. However, I would like to take this opportunity to thank MATI, and more particularly all the executive committee, with Christina Green as President, along with all of the rest of the MATI’s Executive Board. I am also grateful to my home department, World Languages and Cultures, my institution, IUPUI (through my research fund), and the Nuthiling Language School for having facilitated the economic resources to help my students participate by entirely covering the registration fees in this educational and transformational activity for them.

  • 05/27/2020 11:19 PM | Catherine Breckenridge (Administrator)

    It has been a busy year so far for the 2020 MATI Webinar Series. Here’s a 60-second recap of what we’ve learned so far -

    • January 23 – Joseph Wojowksi, ATA Language Technology Division Administrator, took pity on us luddites and walked us through Technology Basics for Those Who Have Always Been Curious.

    • February 19 – Lexi Budden and Michelle Pinzl presented a powerful conceptual tool for interpreters in The Study of Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions: Another Tool for the Interpreter’s Communicative Toolbox. Hofstede’s 6-Dimensional Cultural Framework in professional interpreting.

    • March 19 – Ana Soler, Founder & CEO of SeSo, Inc, unraveled some of the complicated expectations for interpreting psychoeducational assessments and provided tools to help prepare for this type of engagement in Preparing for Psychoeducational and Speech Pathology Interpretation Assignments in the Education Setting: What Medical Interpreters Need to Know.

    • April 16 – María Ester Capurro, sworn English-Spanish translator (Argentine Catholic University) and International Spanish Proofreader (Fundación Litterae), took a fascinating deep dive into the art of proofreading and why it is an essential step in the translation process, in Translation Proofreading: The Importance of an Accurate Revision. This webinar was presented in Spanish.

    • May 12 – Ernest Niño-Murcia, Iowa state and federally certified court interpreter, along with colleague Tamber Hilton, discussed the gamut of the technology strategies for interpreters including types of technology aids, tools for simultaneous interpretation and transcription translation, how to look and sound professional while remote interpreting, and other technology tips in Interpreting Gear 101.

    All webinars are available for on-demand viewing at the MATI Webinar Archive.  $30 Members / $40 Non-Members.

    MATI also hosted two special webinar events that were free to MATI Members:

    • April 2 – Tony Rosado, a U.S. State Department and federally certified court interpreter, encouraged us to embrace our linguist community for support, education, and assistance in this difficult time in How to survive COVID-19 and get ready for what’s next.
    • April 23 – Helen Eby, Administrator of the ATA Interpreting Division, helped us do something that is not always easy, consider our professional practice from a business perspective by walking us through creating a business plan, approach marketing to distinguish ourselves from competition, and client relationship management best practices in How to be an interpreter or translator and not go broke.

    What's Coming Up?

    • June 18, 7:30pm – 8:30pm CT | Interpreting in the world of Dermatology presented by Maria Barajas
    • July 13, 7:30pm – 8:30pm CT | Circumlocution in Educational Settings: Finding Meaning-for-Meaning Equivalents presented by Faustina Zertler and Lisa Anderson
    • August 20, 7:30pm – 8:30pm CT | Los Marielitos: Interpreting the Voices of Cuban Refugees presented by Ashley Rowin and Jade Baumgartner
    • September 15, 7:30pm – 8:30pm CT | Multiple Meanings and Misused Cognates: Pitfalls of Spanish Financial and Legal Translation presented by Abigail Wright
    • October 20, 7:30pm – 8:30pm CT | An Interpreter’s Survival Guide: A Proactive Approach to Navigating Work as a Subcontractor presented by Liz Essary
    • November 18, 7:30pm – 8:30pm CT | Reduced Nerve Conduction Velocity – Decoding Lead Exposure Language for Interpreters presented by Bryce Dorff
    • December 14, 7:30pm – 8:30pm CT | Test Your English Fluency presented by Colleen Keating

    We hope you'll join us for one of these future offerings or take advantage of the recorded webinars in our archive.

    All live webinars are eligible for 1 CEU toward maintaining your ATA and WI Court Interpreter certification. CEUs from CCHI and RID are pending approval.

  • 05/27/2020 11:00 PM | Catherine Breckenridge (Administrator)

    High School Heritage Speakers, Action Research and Interpreting Symposium

    By Sierra Wilcox, Faustina Zertler, and Michelle Pinzl

    It has been awhile since community interpreting students at Viterbo have reported in inforMATIon about the ways they are working to advance both their skills through practice and their knowledge through theory. Since their last publication in April 2016, three major developments have propelled their studies and professional development forward and into local communities throughout the Midwest. Read on to learn more! 

    Early College Credit Program (ECCP)

    In 2019, the Community Interpreting Certificate began working with area high schools, to include heritage speakers of Spanish into interpreting courses at Viterbo. The Early College Credit Program, through Wisconsin’s Department of Public Instruction, permits high school students to take courses at institutions of higher education for high school and/or college credit -- all of this funded through the State of Wisconsin and the students’ school district. Currently, twelve students attending Arcadia High School are enrolled in Viterbo’s Interpreting Program. 

    While some have found it challenging to balance obligations between high school and college, five high school seniors are expected to successfully graduate from the program this spring semester. Overall, these students feel positive about their experience in the program and hope to use the skills they have gained in their future as interpreters or in other professional contexts. As one student, Diego Gonzalez-Diaz, from Arcadia High School reports, “I plan to one day work in the government... My dream is to work at an embassy in Spain or Mexico.” It has been infinitely enriching to have the hopes and dreams of this nation’s youth mingle with the wealth of wisdom that non-traditional students’ experience brings to the classroom. In the end, we have learned that we are all working toward common goals.

    Carrying out Action Research and Training in the Community 

    To hone their skills as professionals, both high school students and non-traditional students enrolled in this program have worked on a variety of undergraduate action research projects and training opportunities in recent years. Students of the 2018 and 2019 cohorts, for example, carried out a total of seven undergraduate research projects. First, they read literature about the state of community interpreting both in the US and internationally. Then, working independently or in groups, they formulated research questions about language access in their own communities. After writing a research proposal, creating and distributing surveys and finally analyzing the results, they disseminated their data. In the process, they were able to identify tangible realities around interpreting services in their local communities and potential areas for improvement. 

    The action research that students engaged in between 2018-2019 included topics related to language access in the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, the La Crosse Police Department, real estate agencies, pharmacies, libraries, dental offices, and area dairy farms. At the 2018 and 2019 Ramp Up the Conversation Interpreter and ISP Conferences, organized by Bilingual Training Consultants LLC, students presented the results of their studies to practicing interpreters from around the state and region. By sparking conversations with practitioners, aspiring interpreters were able to form relationships with experienced professionals in the field. At the same time, interpreters with years of practice, were inspired by the freshness and enthusiasm with which students strived to change language access for the better. 

    In November 2019, students built on gained research skills, in the course Interpreting for Business and Legal Contexts by responding to MATI’s 2020 Webinar Series. They wrote their proposals based on their life experiences as related to community interpreting, projects related to their action research, or their 40-hour internships. Based on the accepted webinar proposals, seven students hope to prepare round-table presentations for the Viterbo Community Interpreting Symposium to be held and hosted by Viterbo, for interpreting professionals in the region. Founded in research and experience, these sessions will be engaging opportunities for practicing interpreters who seek continuing education credits. The diverse topic areas of these presentations are reflected in their well-chosen titles and speak to themes that revolve around language access in varied settings:

    • The Study of Hofstede's Cultural Dimensions: Another Tool for the Interpreter's Communicative Toolbox  (by Lexi Budden and Michelle Pinzl)
    • Interpreting in the World of Dermatology (by María Barajas)
    • Circumlocution in Educational Settings: Finding Meaning-for-Meaning Equivalents (by Lisa Anderson and Faustina Zertler)
    • Los Marielitos: Interpreting the Voices of Cuban Refugees (by Ashley Rowin and Jade Baumgartner)
    • 'Reduced Nerve Conduction Velocity' - Decoding Lead Exposure Language for Interpreters (by Bryce Dorff)

    Abstracts describing these presentations can be found on the MATI Webinar Series 2020 webpage here: 

    Indeed, students have been working hard to engage in their communities and connect with the booming field of interpreting in the United States. As one future presenter at the 2020 interpreting symposium, Bryce Dorff, states, I have learned many things from the Community Interpreting Certificate including the history of interpreting, modes and techniques for interpreting, and ... about my own biases that I bring into an interpreting session. Beyond the academics, I learned about interpreting as a service, and a community that is passionate about equality, justice, and client rights.” The hard work of these students will culminate for 16 graduates in a ceremony held as soon as it is safe to do so in-person, given the stakes of our current worldwide pandemic.  


    First Annual Community Interpreting Symposium: Date and Format to be Determined!

    As for out first annual Community Interpreting Symposium, Viterbo’s Interpreting Program would be honored if you would join us for the event and celebration! Organization, marketing and event themes will be student-led, but the target audience will be interpreting practitioners. We are hoping to share with you, as well as learn from you!

    The objectives of this event are threefold: to create a continuing education opportunity for practicing interpreters in the Midwest, to encourage the link between theory and practice in the fields of translation and interpreting and to deepen conversation and understanding in our communities about the importance of language access. The day will consist of several break-out sessions and workshops facilitated by current Community Interpreting Certificate students, recent graduates, and other practicing interpreters and translators on various topics related to language access.

    Please stand by for more information on the Symposium date, time and place, as we continue to support one another in the best ways we know how through the COVID-19 pandemic! 

    Tentative agenda: 

    Welcome: 7:50am

    Break-out sessions: 8:00-9:30am

    • 30-minute Roundtables

    Break-out Workshops: 9:45-10:45am

    • One workshop for each modality  (sight translation, consecutive (carried out in the simulation lab) or simultaneous)

    Break-out sessions: 11:00-12:30pm

    • 30-minute Roundtables

    Lunch: Panel with Marielitos 12:30-1:30pm

    • Interpreting at Fort McCoy in 1980: The Struggle of Language Access for Cuban Refugees

    State of the Field: Current and Future in La Crosse and Surrounding Areas: 1:45-2:45

    Closing Remarks

    Interpreting Certificate Graduation Ceremony:  3-4:30pm

    Wisconsin Court interpreters, CCHI and IMIA/NBCMI. We look forward to seeing you there! 

    A final thought from Sierra Wilcox, current student of the program:

    In conclusion, I would like to assert, as a current student of the program and co-author of this publication, that being a student in Viterbo University’s Community Interpreting program has been an excellent investment in my future. I’ve learned a great amount on a variety of topics including language, diversity, health care, laws, culture and so much more. This program allows people who are interested in interpreting or translating the tools needed to do so in a professional and productive manner. Even if interpreting or translating isn’t your end goal, I would recommend the program to everyone interested in languages or cultures.

    On behalf of the program and the students who will help to organize the upcoming Community Interpreting Symposium, we look forward to welcoming you to Viterbo soon (whether in person or online)! 


    Bio: Sierra Wilcox expects to finish her B.A. in Spanish from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse in December 2020. In addition, she will earn a Certificate in Community Interpreting from Viterbo University by the end of this year. Her main interests regarding language access lie in community interpreting, particularly in educational and medical contexts. Sierra also volunteers weekly at the Language Resource Center at UW-La Crosse where she serves as a conversation partner for students learning Spanish.

    Bio: Faustina Zertler graduated from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse with a B.A. in Spanish in 2019. In December of 2019, she earned a 13-credit Community Interpreting Certificate from Viterbo University. As a researcher, Faustina has presented research in both language access within the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and patient compliance to breast cancer follow-up. Faustina now works as a Clinical Research Coordinator at Gundersen Health System and a Spanish-English Community Interpreter for school districts in Southwest Wisconsin.

    Bio: Michelle Pinzl is the Coordinator of the Community Interpreting Certificate and Assistant Professor at Viterbo University where she teaches Spanish, French and Interpreting Studies. She earned her Master’s degree in Foreign Languages and Intercultural Management from the Université de Limoges in France and is currently a PhD candidate at the Universitat Autónoma de Barcelona, in Spain. She is a certified Spanish<>English Court Interpreter for the State of Wisconsin and a certified Medical Interpreter through the Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters (CCHI). Michelle has been interpreting for social service agencies, schools, businesses, as well as various sectors of the farming industry in Wisconsin since 2006.

  • 05/27/2020 10:46 PM | Catherine Breckenridge (Administrator)

    By Maha El-Metwally

    Acoustic shock can have very serious implications for interpreters but we are not paying enough attention to it. This issue gained more awareness in the context of remote interpreting but also in the context of colleagues who got acoustic shock while working in Canada, Paris and other places. As interpreters, we need to educate ourselves about what is an acoustic shock.

    Let’s start with a definition. There are several definitions out there and one of the definitions is: "exposure to a sudden, loud, shocking or startling noises, usually in one ear, which may subsequently develop into painful symptoms"(1). Acoustic shock can have many symptoms. It could have physical symptoms like headaches, tinnitus, nausea, hyperacusis, muffled hearing, and vertigo. Other symptoms include numbness or burning sensations around the ear. If the symptoms persist, it could even lead to psychological symptoms including post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and even depression.

    So what can you do in order to protect yourself against an acoustic shock and against its consequences? You could start by purchasing a limiter. Limiters are not widely spread in the world of interpreting but they are widely used in the world of TV  and the music industry. They are small pieces of equipment that act as a middleman between your headphone and your console or computer. They inhibit any sudden surge in sound from reaching dangerous levels. The manufacturers calibrate the limiters to suit the make and model of your own headphones. You may want to check brands like AdaptEar or LimitEar.

    There are some consoles that have built-in limiters. It is good practice to ask questions about the equipment you are asked to use when you work in a meeting. Conference technicians would be able to tell you more information about the equipment. Being educated about the equipment that we are using is a good idea. There are also headphones with built in limiters. They may not offer 100% protection against acoustic shock but they go part of the way. The brands and specifications are in the link to Naomi Bowman’s article at the end of this article.

    Some colleagues suffered an acoustic shock and they had to go through a long treatment. During the treatment period, they could not work. At the risk of stating the obvious, our hearing is essential to our livelihoods as interpreters. You may want to look at an occupational accident insurance. There are types that could cover any periods of unemployment that you may have as a result of an occupational accident and acoustic shock may qualify as one. This way, if you suffer an acoustic shock, you do not suffer a loss of income.

    Our busy lives involve a lot of air travel and some types of aeroplanes can be very noisy. Using noise-cancelling headphones when travelling can help protect your ears. It is also a good idea to have regular hearing checks as we may not be aware that our hearing is deteriorating.

    When we do in-person interpreting, we often rely on others to ensure that the equipment functions properly. However, under the current circumstances when we have to work from home, we need to take responsibility for that part as it is not feasible for somebody else to do that for us.




    Naomi Bowman’s article on how to choose a headset:

    Cyril Flerov’s article on decibels:

    Maha El-Metwally is a conference interpreter for the languages: Arabic (A), English (B), French and Dutch (C). She works for a wide range of international organizations, including the European Institutions and the United Nations. She is a member of the International Association of Conference Interpreters (AIIC), the Chartered Institute of Linguists (CIoL) and the American Translators Association (ATA) where she serves on the Leadership Council of the Interpreting Division. She is also a Board member and member of the Admissions Committee of the Institute of Translation and Interpreting (ITI) where she was recently made fellow.

    ​Maha has an MA in interpreter training from the University of Geneva. She is associated with a number of universities both in the UK and abroad where she contributes to the curriculum. She is passionate about technology in the field of interpreting and offers courses on the subject internationally.

  • 05/27/2020 10:42 PM | Catherine Breckenridge (Administrator)

    Dear Members,

    The year 2020 has brought some unexpected changes, and at MATI we have been trying to keep up with new developments as they happen.  The pandemic has redefined and rearranged the way we communicate with others and do business. Just the other day I was thinking that blowing out the candles on a cake will no longer be possible. That is, unless we want to eat the whole cake!

    MATI has increased its offerings in continuing education opportunities for our members. The board has been quite busy planning and adapting to the new normal, as yet still undefined. We offer a monthly lineup for professional development that can be checked on our website, and that also includes some free webinars for our members.

    The social distancing norms also pushed us to postpone the MATI 17th Annual Conference planned to take place in Milwaukee this year. We understand that due to the crisis, many professionals will choose to spend money on more essential things, and that a conference may not be their main focus.

    However, we are planning to offer a half-day training on September 12, the same day we had scheduled our original conference. We expect this to be a virtual event. More information will be posted soon.

    We are revamping our website, and with that, we will have a much-needed fresh look and easy to navigate features, which will allow external consumers to find professionals among our members more easily through our membership directory.

    Last, we just concluded our elections and we have a new group of officers. This year, Ghada Shakir, Enrica Ardemagni, Daina Jauntirans, and Manuela Francavilla will be leaving us. Their terms have come to an end, and on behalf of the board, I cannot thank them enough for their contributions. I know they will continue assisting our association through our committees and will still be actively involved in our activities.

    I also want to welcome to the board Kate Jankowski, Amy Polenske, Kelley Salas, Maggie Hong, and Enric Mallorquí Ruscalleda. Our virtual board installation and board retreat will take place on June 27. Details will be posted on our website and will follow via email as well. I encourage all of you to participate. Last, I want to thank the members who participated in the elections, who expressed interest and who assisted in making this a smooth process.

    Please stay safe and cherish your family and loved ones. We have learned the hard way how essential we are as professionals and how fragile we are as humans.

    Cordially, Christina Green, MATI President

  • 12/28/2019 1:08 AM | Catherine Breckenridge (Administrator)

    MATI 16th Annual Conference

    By Catherine Breckenridge

    Over 100 language service professionals gathered together at the MATI 16th Annual Conference on Saturday, September 7, 2019 in Chicago, IL at Conference Chicago at University Center, to enjoy a day of great education and networking with colleagues.

    MATI was very pleased to welcome Dr. Bill Rivers as the 16th Annual Conference Keynote Speaker. Dr. Rivers spoke about coalition-based efforts to bring greater visibility to language services. He encouraged all attendees to become advocates for their profession.

    Elizabeth Colón led an engaging plenary session, guiding attendees through the steps to transition from freelancer to entrepreneur by shifting our perspective to think of ourselves as business owners and by self-incorporating as a business.

    In the afternoon, education was themed along two tracks – interpreter and translator. The interpreter room focused on healthy practices, both personally and professionally. 

    Erika Shell Castro helped us learn to recognize the signs of burnout and secondary traumatization in interpreters, as well as strategies for self-care and best practices in providing support for those experiencing burnout. Takeaways include protecting work/life balance, developing and deepening professional and social relationships for support and personal growth, and recognizing, listening to, and acting on the warning signs of burnout before they begin to affect our lives and our work.

    Moving from healthy mind and body, to healthy business practices, Tony Rosado asked us to carefully consider and value the factors that distinguish us as linguists when setting professional fees. These include professional experience, education, and other types of life experiences that contribute to our expertise.  He urged us to see ourselves as a profession, not an industry, and to set sustainable fees that reflect our status as professionals.

    In the translator room, Jill Sommer spoke about contingency planning and crisis management, asking those of us in the audience to consider what actually happens in an emergency, what can be done to prepare for unforeseen events and disasters, and how to protect our business and ourselves.

    Audiovisual linguist and manager, Deborah Wexler demystified the roles and work of an audiovisual linguist. She broke down technical components of subtitling and dubbing/re-voicing, distinguished between the different uses for this work, such as entertainment or accessibility, and discussed different team roles for each type of work. 

    In addition to some great professional development, attendees enjoyed connecting with friends and colleagues at breaks and even sharing a drink or two with colleagues during the hors d’oeuvres and happy hour event following the educational program. A few lucky attendees even took home fun raffle prizes.

    MATI would like to thank our attendees and our sponsors for making this such a great day! We had a blast. We hope you did too, and we hope to see you in Milwaukee in 2020! 

  • 12/28/2019 1:05 AM | Catherine Breckenridge (Administrator)

    Reflections from ATA60 in Palm Springs, California

    By Amy Polenske

    A few weeks ago, I headed to Palm Springs, California, for what I was certain would be another enriching conference experience at ATA60. I joined roughly 1,400 other translation and interpreting professionals seeking to take advantage of all the professional development and networking opportunities that the annual ATA conference has to offer.

    Conference Venue

    This year, the conference was held at the Palm Springs Convention Center. Past conferences have been hosted at large hotels, so this was a new model for ATA. Personally, I enjoyed the setup. I stayed at a hotel adjoining the convention center so most events were a short walk away and all meetings and sessions were on the same floor so it was easy to find where you needed to be. For those staying at other nearby hotels, the beautiful weather made traversing a few blocks to the venue an added bonus. The Welcome Celebration, Closing Reception, and daily breakfast were held outdoors, allowing conference-goers to enjoy the mountain landscape as we caught up with colleagues and introduced ourselves to new faces.

    Session Highlights

    The conference sessions offer a vast array professional development learning opportunities. I sought to learn more on a variety of topics, with a particular interest in how technology is playing a role in our industry. In Can Machine Translation Boost Your Productivity? An Experiment, speaker Johanna Klemm explained how she incorporated MT into her freelance translation workflow (after discussing with her client) to increase her productivity about 10% compared to non-MT workflows this past year. This approach is an interesting contrast to how translations agencies are employing MT in-house and then seeking post-editing services from freelance translators. Seeing a freelancer successfully leverage MT in particular settings on her own gave me a new view of MT’s possibilities for the future.

    Another session, Why Translation Technology Still Matters, brought together representatives from SDL, Wordfast, and MemoQ to discuss current technology trends in the industry such as cloud-based platforms, speech-to-text functionality in CAT tools, and the increasing number of features packed into traditional desktop CAT tools. The speakers also offered insight into how they see translation technology evolving in the future.

    I also attended an interpreting session presented by Odilia Romero called Indigenous Migration to the U.S.: Historical Perspective, Contemporary Problems, and the Struggle for the Recognition of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. While I do not work in interpreting myself, the topics covered were highly relevant to the current debate surrounding immigration in the U.S. and I enjoyed gaining insight on the particular struggles that indigenous peoples face due to language barriers, in addition to the growing need for trained interpreters of indigenous languages.

    Networking and Catching Up with Colleagues

    Networking opportunities were abundant through structured events, such as Brainstorm Networking and the Job Fair, but they are also easy to experience spontaneously when you’re surrounded by 1,000+ industry professionals. I was happy to run into a number of fellow MATI members in Palm Springs. I also had the chance to reconnect with fellow volunteer translators from micro-lending platform Kiva, former co-workers, and MALLT alumni. Finally, I made new connections with students, translators, and Project Managers. I always find it inspiring to hear about other people’s careers and the diversity of work present in our industry.

    I left ATA’s Annual Conference feeling rejuvenated and motivated to take on new challenges in my professional life, and would recommend the experience to anyone seeking a different perspective or new opportunities in translation and interpreting.

  • 12/28/2019 12:31 AM | Catherine Breckenridge (Administrator)

    Presenting Core Competencies of the Localization Manager

    By Alaina Brandt

    I entered the field of localization while completing my Master of Arts in Language, Literature, and Translation at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee. In my first role as a quality reviewer, I proofread translated content in languages I couldn’t read at various stages of localization production. My job was to check that correct punctuation was used in target content, for instance, and to this day, I cannot stand to see a straight apostrophe where a curly apostrophe should be used! At the time the work seemed mundane, but reviewing translated content helped me build an understanding of issues common for romance, character, and script languages. When I went on to become a project manager, I used this experience to ensure the efficient processing of thousands of localization projects in eighty-plus languages.

    I began advocating for the project manager after attending my first conferences as a director of the Midwest Association of Translators and Interpreters. What stood out to me then was the conflictual nature of the relationship between project managers and translators. Translators told war stories of working with LPMs with a “file pusher” mentality. These translators weren’t being provided with necessary instructions like style guides or termbases. They couldn’t get answers to critical queries.

    On the employment side, I noticed that my responsibilities far exceeded what seemed to be the messaging about my role. My experience in project management includes work at three localization firms of varying organizational maturity. In one of my jobs, I carried a project load of nearly 50 daily projects with 48-hour turnarounds while also establishing the infrastructure for a lucrative new client. In another role, I shifted our model from outsourcing to a single LSP to outsourcing to independent contractors. In that role, I established company-wide price lists for purchasing translation services while cutting out a middleman who was not providing value for the PM fees they were charging.

    While my duties were often more characteristic of program management, my role was undervalued. I often operated without the authority that would have allowed me to move strategy forward quickly and create the bandwidth for a greater client load. I observed burn-and-turn hiring cycles in which project managers with no background in translation or localization were hired and worked around the clock until they quit, taking important institutional knowledge with them. As a PM with training in translation, I knew that localization management required an advanced, broad skill set obtained through higher education or years of experience. I also knew that as an industry we could do so much better. This context prompted my research in localization management competencies.

    The LMCC typology

    My research began in the spring of 2018 when I started teaching localization management at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. I collected around 70 job descriptions for localization project managers and studied those descriptions to identify the wide range of skills employers need. In the fall of 2018, I received funding for a Graduate Research Assistant, and GRA Cheng Qian joined the project. She used memoQ to tag the job descriptions in a localization competency termbase, in which unique skills were classified according to competency area. Students in the fall 2018 rendition of my Localization Project Management course at MIIS participated in this tagging as well. From the 70 job descriptions, we collectively identified nearly 1000 skills that we later boiled down into the typology of Localization Management Core Competencies (LMCC) that is found on our Core Competencies of the Localization Manager website ( Our typology was also built based on research in education programs in localization, international standards of best practice, and other resources. This typology is under ongoing development.

    Stakeholder Engagement on Localization Competencies

    As our typology became solidified into 7 dimensions with over 300 associated skills, we prepared to conduct stakeholder engagement on the topic. In the spring of 2019, we prepared an industry survey which was piloted on students in my Advanced Localization Project Management course at MIIS. In the summer of 2019, I traveled to Xi’an China to give the keynote address at the WITTA-TTES forum 2019, where I introduced our typology to the industry for the first time. I then published the Core Competencies of the Localization Manager website to educate the industry on our research. In the fall of 2019, two additional GRAs were added to the project: Vanessa Prolow and Xiaofu ‘Rick’ Dong. At the beginning of the semester, I took Dr. Netta Avineri’s Survey Design course at MIIS, and we polished our industry survey based on the knowledge gained in that course. We launched our industry survey of 35 questions shortly thereafter which collected respondents’ perspectives on localization competencies and training. Our thanks to the 62 respondents who took our survey!

    LMCC Industry Survey Results

    According to broad estimates on the number of localization practitioners in the United States, we would have needed around 400 responses for our survey results to be conclusive. While are results are not conclusive, they do give a good temperature check on the reception of our localization competencies within the industry. Our survey enjoyed global participation: Around 60% of respondents self-identified as being from the United States, and around 20% self-identified as being from Asia. We also had participants from Western Europe, Eastern Europe, and Latin America. Our survey was taken by experienced professionals as well. Around 40% of our respondents had over 10 years of experience, and around 65% of our respondents had over 5 years of experience.

    Xiaofu ‘Rick’ Dong conducted the initial analysis of survey responses that I presented at the ATA’s 60th Annual Conference in Palm Springs; and forthcoming publications will dive more deeply into the nuance of our survey results. For the time being, major takeaways from our survey are as follows:

    • In terms of management competencies, terminology management ranked 11th for importance of the 15 competencies we presented to respondents. According to international standards of best practice, if you are not managing terminology, you do not have a quality product. This ranking therefore demonstrates that terminology management is an area where much stakeholder education is needed. From a practical standpoint, managing terminology when carrying out multilingual projects with multiple translators per language prevents unnecessary rework. From a marketing standpoint, terminology management should be viewed as perception design… As translators are aware, words elicit complex emotions tied to concept relations within the brain. Localizers would do well to be aware of the emotions their terminology evokes to avoid product failures in global markets

    • In term of technological competencies, despite the fear with which machine translation is viewed, MT ranked 4th for importance of the 15 competencies we presented to respondents. (CAT and TMS tied for first place. General technological literacy and project management applications tied for second place.) Our survey demonstrates that ongoing stakeholder education on the skills required for such services as PEMT is needed for MT to be accepted by translators. For instance, according to ISO standards on human translation and PEMT, the latter actually requires more skills and competencies that traditional human translation, despite the undervaluing of PEMT in terms of perception and rates.

    • Just over 55% of respondents agreed that bilingualism is necessary for the professional practice of localization management. This takeaway has important implications for bilingual education in the United States, where the promotion of monolingualism threatens our country’s ability to complete on a global level.

    Moving Forward with Localization Competency Research

    The work of the LMCC research team is ongoing, and our existing typology benefits the industry in a number of ways. Employers can use our typology to identify the competencies they have in house to make more strategic hiring decisions when adding talent to their teams. Localization practitioners can use our typology to identify the competencies they have and the competencies they need further development in. Trainers can use our typology to determine the what should be the core of their training programs and where nuance can be added. For more information on our research, please see our Core Competencies of the Localization Manager website (, which presents further information on the context for our research and our methodology. We also welcome feedback on version 4 of our typology, which is under ongoing development.


    Alaina Brandt is Assistant Professor of Professional Practice in the Translation and Localization Management (TLM) program of the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. She is on the board of directors of the American Translators Association, and she’s the Assistant Administrator of the Translation Company Division of ATA. She is a member of Committee F43 on Language Services and Products of ASTM International. Brandt is CEO and founder of Afterwords Translations. She holds a Master of Arts in Language, Literature, and Translation from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee.