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Mastering Your Craft: A Guide to CPD Planning for Interpreters and Translators (Free download)

In the realm of language interpretation and translation, growth is not just an option; it's a necessity. As BSL interpreters and translators registered with a regulatory body, continuous professional development (CPD) should be at the heart of your journey. It's not merely a checkbox on your professional to-do list; it's a crucial pathway to honing your skills, providing the best service to clients, and achieving excellence in your craft.

The Ever-Evolving Landscape of CPD

Gone are the days when CPD was seen as an optional pursuit. Today, it's a central component of professional growth. NRCPD and RBSLI, regularly update their CPD requirements to ensure that interpreters and translators are equipped with the latest tools, techniques, and knowledge.

At present (4.8.23) NRCPD require registrants to accrue 24 hours of CPD annually while RBSLI insist that their registrants accrue 18 hours of CPD. Both organisations insist on a mix of CPD activities with NRCPD calling them structured and unstructured and RBSLI calling them recommended and individual.

However, one common pitfall in terms of the efficacy of CPD, regardless of the number of hours required to be completed is the tendency for interpreters and translators to choose courses based on factors like proximity or cost. While these elements matter, they shouldn't be the sole criteria. Your CPD choices should align with your personal development goals and areas where you genuinely seek growth in order to gain the most benefit form the training or development work being undertaken.

The CPD Planning Paradigm

So, how can you ensure that your CPD journey is purposeful and effective? Start by adopting a systematic approach to planning. Think of it as building your professional roadmap.

1. Self-Assessment: Understand Where You Stand

Begin with a realistic assessment of your current skills and areas that need improvement. This process is akin to setting your annual baseline. Take stock of your strengths and acknowledge areas for growth. Are you consistently accurate with your translations but struggle with idiomatic expressions? Do you excel in face-to-face interpretation but find remote interpreting challenging? A good way to do this is to record yourself interpreting or review a recording of a translation and from this, analyse your strengths and weaknesses. It is often a good idea to undertake a miscue analysis of recorded work as this can help with revealing patterns/ consistent issues in your production, either in Englsih or BSL and allow you to hone in on areas for improvement and spot what it is that you are already doing well.

2. Set Clear Goals: Define Your Destination

Once you've assessed your skills, it's time to define your goals for the upcoming year. For instance, as an interpreter, you might want to enhance your reflection in voice-over skills or expand your BSL vocabulary in a specialised domain. For translators, it could be about reducing intrusions from English in your translations or mastering the art of using post-production editing software. Whatever areas for development (AfD’s) that you decide on it is important that they are specific and that you define ways in which you are going to be able to measure your own success to know if you have made any improvement at the end of the year.

3. Prioritise: Focus Your Energy

While enthusiasm is commendable, taking on too much at once can be overwhelming. Focus on a maximum of three AfDs at a time. This focused approach ensures that your energy and efforts remain sharp, and you're not spread too thin. Having 3 areas for development to begin with is a good way to balance your workload, allows you options when it comes to searching for relevant CPD and can help with seizing different opportunities as they arise. Another good reason for having more than one area for development is that sometimes specific skills will require work over a longer period of time in order for your to develop your understanding or skill and so on the surface of it, progress may seem slow and having other AfD’s to work on can help with being able to see more ‘gains’, just like when going to the gym!

4. Diverse Learning: Beyond Formal Courses

Diversify your CPD sources. Although regulatory bodies do insist on some structured CPD activities in the form of training and courses, CPD doesn’t just have to be about formal learning in a classroom setting. A great way to inform your CPD plan and practice is to seek insights from clients, ask for feedback on your performance form peers', or patterns you discover in your own learning journal or reflective notes. Reflect on your performance in assignments – what went well, what could have been better? Learning from real experiences can be as impactful as structured learning.

Beyond Traditional Learning

CPD doesn’t have to be confined to classroom settings. Think beyond conventional courses and explore a broader spectrum of learning:

1. Feedback as a Mirror: Leverage External Perspectives

As part of your professional development, embrace feedback from clients and colleagues. Constructive criticism is gold, highlighting areas you can improve upon. It might be your tone of voice, your body language, or even your understanding of certain cultural subtleties. It's your Johari's window, revealing aspects you might not see yourself. Johari’s window (1955) divides our self-awareness into four quadrants: open, blind, hidden, and unknown. Applying this to your CPD journey, as an interpreter or translator, you can actively seek feedback from clients, colleagues, and peers to expand your "open" quadrant. Insights from others reveal aspects of your skills that might be unknown to you but recognised by them. This valuable feedback can direct your CPD efforts more effectively. Additionally, Johari's Window can serve as a reflective tool post-assignment, aiding you in analysing your performance and learning from your experiences, ultimately propelling you toward refined skills and more impactful communication.

2. Utilise Non-Traditional Resources: Self-Reflection and More

Don't underestimate the power of self-analysis. Reviewing clips of your own work can reveal trends or areas needing improvement. For example, if you've noticed recurring challenges while translating financial documents, this insight could guide your CPD choices. Engage in discussions with peers – their insights can provide fresh perspectives you might not have considered. A great tool to use for conducting a self-analysis is Denis Cokely’s Miscue Analysis - why not join our upcoming course to find out more about this?

Your Personal CPD Toolkit

To make your CPD plan actionable, we've created a free template [Download Here]. This template acts as your CPD compass, guiding you through:

  • Defining Goals: Set clear objectives for your development areas.

  • Activity Selection: Identify courses, workshops, reading materials, or other activities that align with your goals.

  • Action Steps: Break down your goals into actionable steps.

  • TimeLine: Create a realistic timeline for each goal.

  • Documenting Your Journey

Recording your CPD journey is crucial. The evidence you submit to NRCPD/RBSLI might include your CPD plan, learning journals, reflective notes, video logs, or even a blog documenting your learning process. This documentation showcases your commitment and progress. Keeping accurate records of your CPD also allows you to use this as a tool for CPD as previous records can be reviewed and you can make comparisons and draw conclusions about current progress and existing gaps in knowledge and skills.

A Voyage of Mastery

In the grand tapestry of BSL interpretation and translation, CPD is your constant companion. It's your ship, carrying you towards mastery. Each skill honed, each challenge conquered, and each lesson learned adds a new brushstroke to the masterpiece you're creating.

With your customised CPD plan in hand, guided by your goals and fuelled by your passion, you'll navigate the seas of communication with finesse, precision, and the unwavering commitment to excellence.


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