Meet Ken De Wachter, the professional translator, technical writer, and trainer who will be instructing TCLoc students on how to use MadCap Software products. His experience with studying, teaching, and working in translation and technical communication makes him the perfect choice for our extracurricular course on one of the leading tools in the industry.

In addition to the required teaching units in the curriculum, TCLoc students sometimes have the opportunity to follow extracurricular courses as well. These are optional courses that the program offers simply to provide students with more knowledge and skills. Teaching such a course is Ken De Wachter, owner of the consulting company Flynxo and professional in technical writing and translation. He has joined the TCLoc community to introduce our students to the most important tools from MadCap Software, a leading resource for authoring and publishing solutions for technical writers and translators. Before the start of his course, we were able to schedule a meeting with Ken to get a sneak peek. He kindly shared not only a glimpse of what he’ll be teaching but also what his professional journey has been like and what he’s up to today.

Meeting Ken De Wachter

It’s always exciting to have a new instructor join the community. Welcome, Ken! What motivated you to give this training on Madcap Software tools?

My contacts at MadCap told me that you were looking for a teacher and asked me if I wanted to be introduced. Of course I did! I’ve been teaching at the University of Leuven for ten years — mainly CAT tools, but these last years I’ve also taught terminology and technical writing. I also train professional translators and technical writers in companies. I love the contrast between those two profiles. Professionals know exactly what they want to achieve and care less about the rest. Students have a broader interest and learn at an incredible speed, but they often have less insight in real-life applications and business value. What I like most about teaching students is having an impact on their future career. I regularly run into alumni, and they often impress me with the way they implement the things we did in class. I secretly prefer teaching students, though the industry pays better. A good balance between the two is ideal.

Obviously, when I learned more about the TCLoc master’s degree program, my enthusiasm grew even more. As a translator and a technical writer, I’ve always been a strong advocate of interconnecting these two fields. This hybrid master is doing exactly that, and I’m really honored to be a part of it.

The Journey to Translation and Technical Writing

Well, it’s so great to have you. Tell me about how you got involved in technical communication and translation. How did you get where you are today? Where did you start?

During the final semester of my master’s degree in translation at the University of Leuven, I started thinking seriously about what would come next. I realized that I loved languages, but I didn’t really know how to make a living off that. Translating seemed like too much of a solo activity; it also implied that I would have to become a freelancer. That scared me a lot.

At that point, I was writing my master’s thesis under the supervision of Prof. Frieda Steurs, one of the leading ladies in the field of terminology. She put me on the track of specialized language and terminology and showed me its economic opportunities and business value, which helped me envision my professional future. So, I enrolled in a postgraduate programme about language technology and computational linguistics. After graduating, I got recruited by the university and worked on a variety of projects — all of which revolved around terminology and translation quality.

And how did you like that kind of work?

At the start, I loved that job. I got to travel all over Europe, see its most beautiful cities and work with incredible people. It made me a true European citizen. However, after five years, the high pressure and work pace caught up with me. I had just gotten married and was tired of being away from home so often. So, I cut back my hours at the university and got a part-time job in an ICT company as a technical writer. To be honest, I thought that it was going to be boring to write user documentation, but I actually enjoy it a lot. ICT is a fun domain to work in. Being a tech-savvy linguist amongst developers is great because I have a completely different skill set. 

You’ve continued combining jobs in these fields ever since, it seems. Why does this appeal to you and what are some of your current projects?

I’ve always been too restless for a traditional nine-to-five, but I want the stability of a fixed income. The combination of working part time as an in-house technical writer and having my own little consultancy company, Flynxo, gives me the best of both worlds.

My regular job is at Collibra, a fast-growing company that develops software for data management. It’s an agile environment with monthly releases. Quite a challenge for the documentation! We write our user documentation in MadCap Flare, with GitHub as our versioning tool. Our workload depends a lot on the engineering teams. I’m constantly in touch with different development teams to discuss new and updated features. I keep a lot of plates spinning, so I have to split up my work into tasks, then prioritize and plan them. Having freedom and responsibility really keeps the work interesting. Some weeks, the developers deliver a lot of new features, so I can only document the most urgent things. Other weeks, developers do more backend work that doesn’t affect end users directly, so I can do in-depth research and document business cases and best practices. 

I also enjoy having little adventures on my own, so I founded Flynxo. In the beginning, I mostly worked with terminology and translation technology. Later, I expanded into authoring technology. Mainly, I give training on SDL Trados Studio, Memsource and MadCap Flare. 

In the past 10 years, I think I’ve seen every kind of organization in Europe and every domain. I’ve worked with “typical” translation agencies and freelance translators, but also with government agencies, a wide range of in-company translation departments and even the army.

Other domains I’ve worked with include automotive, healthcare, pharmaceutical, finance, energy, ICT, transport, e-commerce and heavy industry — each with their own particularities and requirements. 

My favorite project is helping Translators without Borders (TWB) set up a terminology workflow. After a humanitarian crisis such as a hurricane, crisis response teams from all over the world go on site to help. One of the challenges is often communication; TWB provides linguistic services. We’re now working on a project to manage crisis and COVID-19 terminology, translate it into many languages of lesser diffusion, and disseminate it amongst translators and interpreters.

The Role of MadCap Software

You have quite a variety of professional interests! Although you’re certainly qualified to teach many subjects related to our curriculum, you’re providing our students with training on MadCap Software tools. What’s so great about MadCap Flare and how does it relate to technical communication?

Flare is MadCap’s flagship. It’s an all-inclusive authoring suite with powerful single-sourcing capabilities. You write content in a relatively easy editor and combine those pieces of content into a concrete target. You write it once, but you can reuse the content as often as you need. You can also tag content if you want to create different user guides from the same content. That allows you to create tailored user guides for specific companies or user types.

For example, imagine you need user guides in PDF and HTML for starters as well as advanced users. Your product may also have different licensing types and optional modules. Some customers may have specific requirements and custom features. You’d need dozens of user guides with a lot of overlapping content. In theory, it’s possible to do that in MS Word. In practice, it would be impossible to keep all the documentation consistent and harmonized. 

Every change in your product, big or small, requires updates to the documentation. You don’t want to dig into dozens of Word files trying to find the relevant sections. You want a central repository of content in which you can make the required changes. Our company releases product updates almost every two weeks, so we need to follow the development cycles closely.

That’s where Flare shines. For each user guide, we have a “target” defined in the software and the target knows which content is relevant for its guide. So, we simply update the content in the central repository and move on. All relevant user guides will be updated automatically.

MadCap Flare and Other Documentation Software

Wow, that is amazingly efficient. But how does Flare compare with other technical writing solutions? What are some similarities and differences?

In the category of complete authoring suites, the biggest competitor of MadCap Flare is Adobe RoboHelp. The tools are a bit similar. Although Flare is the younger of the two, it quickly took a large piece of the market. Obviously, it’s also a matter of personal preference, but I think Flare is easier to use and more complete.

Some of the biggest competitors of Flare aren’t really proper authoring tools: MS Word and wikis such as Confluence. I often compare it with sleeping on the couch. It works, but it’s not comfortable and gives you a pain in the neck. Typically, Word and Confluence are used by companies that don’t really want to invest in proper documentation.

Then there’s DITA. DITA is not a software application, but an XML architecture that was designed for documentation. You can author the DITA XML files in any XML editor, such as Oxygen and XMetal, or even Notepad++. You can create the actual output files by importing the DITA XML files into a publishing tool such as Adobe InDesign or FrameMaker. Though I like some of the features, DITA is too complicated for most companies. 

Finally, there are markup languages such as Markdown and Asciidoc. Just like with DITA, they’re not software applications, but they provide markup to write documentation. Also similar to DITA, they have some very good features, but user-friendliness is not one of them.

MadCap Software and the Industry

Tools and technologies are constantly evolving and being updated. What are some of the ways MadCap Software has affected or been affected by the technical communication industry?

MadCap is growing fast and has made it easier for companies to publish attractive documentation. This creates a lot of awareness of the importance of user documentation. They also evangelize topic-based authoring very efficiently. They also really excel in building community — there’s an interesting blog section on their website, a Slack community, and my favorite conference of the year: MadWorld.

If you work in a company, it’s easy to get stuck in your ways and routines. MadCap really succeeded in connecting technical writers across companies and industries. After all, technical writers in other companies face similar challenges. By reaching out to them, you can see how they solve problems and learn from them. Or, alternatively, you can help them.

A great example of this is the use of interactive elements in user documentation. Three years ago, we didn’t use any dropdown selectors or buttons in our user guides. Then, during a session at MadWorld, a speaker showed some examples of them and shared a simple JavaScript to make it possible. My colleagues and I started using it at Collibra, and some of our developers improved the JavaScript further. Obviously, we shared the upgraded version with others. So, the MadCap community gave something to us, we used and improved it and then gave it back to the community. Everybody wins.

TCLoc and MadCap Software

This idea of community is definitely a value shared by the TCLoc master’s program as well. What information and insights will you be sharing with our students during your course?

Simplistically formulated: students will learn the most important features of MadCap Flare. They will be able to create a documentation project from scratch, edit the content and publish it in HTML and PDF. Obviously, we’ll cover a lot of tips, tricks and best practices. Realistic, hands-on materials will show both the advantages and the limitations of single-sourcing. Students will do some real writing and content structuring. We might even throw in some JavaScript to make the content interactive!

The goal is to have students go beyond the “simple use” of Flare and come out of this course as fully independent users!

It sounds like it will be a great course! We’re so excited to provide access to this software and training to our students. Thank you for taking the time to do this interview and for lending your knowledge and experience to our program!

Are you familiar with MadCap Software products? Which one is your favorite and what do you use it for? Let us know in the comments! Also, if you are a TCLoc student or alumni, contact us to see if you are eligible to receive licenses to access MadCap Software products and other software tools.

Joining the TCLoc community of instructors is Hilary Marsh, a content strategist with decades of experience and president of Content Company, a content and digital strategy consultancy. She is a leading expert on effective and efficient content creation, organization, and management. Having already created and taught graduate-level courses on content strategy, she is excited to share her experience and insight with TCLoc students and show them the important role content strategy plays in technical communication. In this article, she gives us a sneak peek of her course and shares with us the professional path that led her to where she is now.

Discovering Content Strategy

We are so excited to have you as one of our instructors, Hilary. You have so much hands-on experience in the field. Did you know from the beginning that you wanted to help people create great content? How did you get your start? 

My path to working with content started during my studies. I went to Syracuse University for psychology and magazine journalism. When I started at Syracuse, I was studying English. In my spare time, I helped edit the university’s literary magazine and learned, to my surprise, that the school offered a program in magazine journalism, so I transferred into that program. My professors stressed the importance of structuring articles with the most important points first, finding out the details behind the facts for a powerful story, and learning about the audience. I also studied psychology, which taught me about how people’s minds work. I find that I use both sets of skills in my work every day!

After graduating, I started my professional career as a magazine editor and then went on to be a copywriter for a large cosmetics company, where I wrote copy for both sales representatives and consumers. When I discovered the internet around 1995, I wanted to use my combined skills in editorial judgement and promotional/informational writing in this new medium. However, at the beginning, it was a struggle, because people assumed that websites were primarily about the cool technology and design, and content was an afterthought. (Unfortunately, this is still the case far too often even 25 years later!)

My first experience with writing digital content was for a nonprofit arts website. After that, I got a few assignments writing web copy for some corporate brand websites. I also wrote some magazine articles about websites’ business models. When I moved from New York City to Chicago in 1997, my previous work experience led me to a job for a major printing company, where I led the effort to revamp their corporate website, manage its content, and start their first intranet. In 1999, I took a position with an e-commerce beauty startup.

It sounds like, little by little, you got closer to what you wanted to do. Had you heard the term “content strategy” at this point, or was it still just a concept you had imagined? 

I first heard the term “content strategy” at a conference in 1999, defined as applying a publishing mentality to a website, and I knew that that’s what I had been trying to invent. Several months later, I began working for Sapient, an interactive e-business consulting company, starting their content strategy practice in Chicago. I also taught a class in web content and information architecture for University of Chicago’s Graham School.

When the dot-com bubble burst in 2001, I was laid off, along with my whole team. Since I knew that every website needed a content strategy, I started a content strategy consultancy, Content Company, with my first client being a student from my course. I worked with that client, a large financial services firm, for several years, first helping them revamp their corporate site and then winning a large contract against major consulting firms to lead the content strategy for their first web-based intranet. I also started speaking at conferences about content management and content strategy, trying to help people make the connection between their business and their content. 

It was a challenging time, because while content strategy was a known entity for the people and agencies that practiced it, most companies had no idea it existed or that they needed it!

It must have been difficult to convince companies that they needed something when they didn’t know it existed. Fortunately, you were helping spread the wordand still are today! What are some of your more recent projects?

In 2005, I started working for the National Association of Realtors (NAR), an association with more than 1 million members. I oversaw the organization’s member website and started its first social media program. My team and I worked with the organization’s staff to ensure that members understood what NAR offered to them and that could easily take advantage of its myriad programs, products, and services.
I left NAR in 2011 to restart my consultancy. I currently consult with associations, nonprofit organizations, government agencies, and corporations. In 2013, I developed and taught the first graduate-level content strategy course, for Kent State University. Over the years, I’ve spoken at numerous content strategy, UX, digital, and technology conferences in the United States, Germany, Denmark, and Australia. I also run mentoring groups for current or aspiring content strategists—the next one will start in January 2021.

Defining Content Strategy

Today, the idea of content strategy is not just accepted, it’s essential. But what does this term mean, exactly?

Content strategy, as I first learned it back in 1999, is identifying the who, what, where, and how of publishing content online. Since then, we’ve created deeper definitions, encompassing our understanding of everything needed to create a sustainable strategy for the organization’s content. The definition I use nowadays is this: 

Content strategy is the practice of planning and assessment for the creation, delivery, and governance of useful, usable, effective content. 

I added the word “effective” to the definition this year, because I wanted to make sure that organizations understand that content needs to have an explicit audience and clear, measurable goals.

It sounds like a thorough, inclusive definition. How can it be applied from different perspectives and to different contexts?

For the clients I work with, content represents their work—their programs, products, and services. Content strategy, then, is taking a strategic approach to the content OF and ABOUT their work. Kathy Wagner, of Content Strategy Inc. in Vancouver, Canada, calls the first type of content “core content,” distinguishing it from the marketing content about the work.

If you do an online search for “content strategy,” many of the results are actually about content marketing strategy. Content marketing strategy is about creating and then promoting content for marketing purposes, such as blog posts, customer stories or testimonials, and campaign-related content. Content marketing strategy uses many of the tactics and techniques of content strategy, but only for marketing-focused content. 

The vast majority of valuable content that organizations create—the core content of their programs, products, and services—exists because the business exists. This includes content from the events they offer, information about the organization’s history, publications they produce, educational courses they offer, and so much more. This content doesn’t exist for marketing reasons at all and, without it, the organization would literally not exist and there would be nothing to market.

An example that’s especially relevant for technical writers is help content. The audience for help content is existing customers, and the goals are about increasing customer satisfaction and reducing support calls and complaints. These people were “leads” for marketers and became “users” of the website. 

Considering the variety of content that exists, what is the most important thing to remember regarding content strategy?

Successful content is that which works for the audience and, therefore, the organization. A true organization-wide content strategy would make sure that the audience is at the center of all content decisions, whether it’s marketing content, product details, or support information. These decisions are about planning content; making sure it has the right voice and tone; stays updated; uses the organization’s taxonomy; and follows the criteria for promotion, maintenance, and retirement/expiration.

Making sure content is relevant to the audience is more complex when the audience may live in a variety of locations. Simple one-to-one translation of words is almost never enough to produce content that is relevant to audiences, so this has to be planned for from the beginning. The work involves creating internal lines of communication, establishing the right workflows, making sure the CMS templates accommodate multiple languages, and designing the pages to accommodate various requirements.

Teaching Content Strategy

As many of our students already work in fields related to technical communication and localization, they might already be aware of the importance of content strategy. How will this course help them understand it and use it in their professional lives?   

This course is an introduction to the broad set of content strategy tools and techniques, with an emphasis on the core of audience understanding. It also covers topics that make content strategy especially challenging, such as planning content collaboratively, establishing success metrics, managing change, and getting senior-level buy-in. The course introduces these new concepts and practices and invites students to integrate and apply them to their own experiences and professional expertise.

By the end of the course, the students will be able to better facilitate content planning, improve content quality, and establish sustainable practices. While these skills are certainly applicable to translation and technical writing, they are also very relevant to those who work in project management and visual communication.

Content strategy is such an interesting topic and has so many applications. We’re proud to have you teaching it in our program. Thank you for your time and keep spreading the word about content strategy!

What did you think of this article? Do you use content strategy or do you see the need for it in your current job? Let us know in the comments below! If you’re interested in this course, check out the rest of the curriculum on the TCLoc website. And don’t forget to check out other articles on our blog!

The TCLoc Team is proud to announce the launch of the new version of the TCLoc website! This improved platform is the result of a successful project led by CAWEB master’s students whose goal was to redesign not only the website’s visual aspect and content but the user experience altogether.

Since its launch in January 2017, the TCLoc master’s program has been a growing success, continuing to attract students from all over the world. Its curriculum is constantly evolving in order to offer training adapted to the most recent technological and digital advances in the technical communication and localization industry. Since its inception, the goal of the TCLoc master’s program has been to earn the recognition of professionals in the field by combining an accredited university degree with an industry certification. Indeed, TCLoc graduates not only obtain a master’s degree from the University of Strasbourg, but an international Technical Communicator (tekom) – Professional Level certificate as well, provided by our partner tekom Europe, the world’s largest technical communication association.

The new website provides students, instructors, and potential candidates with the best user experience possible. Its interface, content, and graphics have been entirely redesigned with several goals in mind. The main goal behind this project was to highlight the TCLoc community. Indeed, even though the TCLoc master’s program is taught remotely, its core values remain: communication, solidarity, and camaraderie. That’s also why we invite our students twice a year to on-campus meetings at the University of Strasbourg. Thus, a dedicated section has been created on our new website to emphasize our students, instructors, alumni, administrative team and — last but not least — our partnerships.

According to Renate de la Paix, TCLoc’s Program Director, “TCLoc addresses full-time working professionals as well as career-changers and people taking a break from their careers for further training. We offer four different study options ranging from 12 to 24 months to suit a variety of schedules. The new website explains the flexibility of the program more clearly. I’m very happy that all the relevant information can now be easily accessed.”

The TCLoc Team thanks the CAWEB master’s students and all the people who have contributed to the success of this project! 

Discover the new TCLoc website!

The TCLoc master’s is proud to announce that it has joined once again the Adobe Tech Comm University Outreach Program. Thanks to this academic partnership with Adobe, TCLoc students will have access to the Adobe Technical Communication Suite in order to gain firsthand, practical experience with these leading software tools for creating and editing technical documentation.

“With our master’s program in technical communication and localization, we seek to provide courses that give students opportunities for hands-on, practical application of the competencies they acquire during their coursework using the best tools available,” says Dr. Renate de la Paix, program director. She continues, “The Technical Communication Suite is the most popular collection of tools used by the industry for creating and editing technical documentation. In our Technical Publishing class, for example, we use Adobe FrameMaker because it allows users to publish natively across channels, mobile devices, and formats, and to create content with best-in-class XML/DITA support.”

The TCLoc master’s focuses on practical skills. By using the latest versions of leading tools such as FrameMaker, Captivate, and RoboHelp, students will be prepared for employment in the technical communication industry. Thank you, Adobe, for enabling our students to use the Technical Communication Suite free of charge for study purposes!

Before the 2019 November on-campus meeting, the TCLoc Team took a trip to Stuttgart for the annual tcworld conference, joining our past, present, and future TCLoc students at this inspiring event.

The tcworld Conference

The tcworld conference is organized by tekom Europe, the largest technical communication association in Europe with over 9,500 members. It takes place in Stuttgart, Germany, every year. The tcworld conference is the largest international event for technical communication in the world, boasting over 4,500 participants as well as over 250 presentations and workshops (in English and in German). Presentation topics cover everything related to technical communication from visual communication and user experience to augmented reality and artificial intelligence.

Speakers at the tcworld conference are all experts in their field and we were happy to see that some of them are also part of our team of instructors. TCLoc’s new instructor for software documentation, Konrad Brust, gave a short, insightful talk about the localization of video games. Shumin Chen hosted a workshop on Simplified Technical English (STE), the subject she teaches for TCLoc. Jordan Stanchev hosted two workshops, “Building Your First Taxonomy for Classification of Software Documentation” and “Visualize It! Creating Graphics and Images in Software Documentation.” TCLoc’s instructor of terminology management, François Massion, gave a presentation on terminology in the age of artificial intelligence. Also, Kirk St.Amant, TCLoc’s usability and user experience design instructor, presented “The Psychology of the User Experience—Approaches to User Testing and Product Design,” which proved to be a conference favorite.

In addition to the numerous presentations at the conference, the tekom fair is also a key point of interest, hosting around 150 software manufacturers and service providers. It is the only trade fair for technical communication worldwide. The conference also welcomes universities that offer bachelor’s and master’s degrees related to technical communication, setting up booths for them to present their programs. This provides the invaluable opportunity for students and educators alike to stay abreast of the most recent developments, standards, and technology in technical communication and related fields. TCLoc, an online master’s program at the University of Strasbourg, is always in attendance.

TCLoc and tekom: Bridging the Gap

This is why the TCLoc Team looks forward to this event every year: tekom and TCLoc have the common goal of bridging the gap between education and industry. tekom organizes this annual event in order to promote and facilitate the exchanging of ideas, research, and technology, thereby driving the industry towards excellence. Conversation and sharing within the industry is necessary to create and maintain standardized best practices in technical communication and related fields. Likewise, communication between industry and education is essential for the proper training and certification of technical communicators. 

TCLoc’s founder and program director, Renate de la Paix, also recognized the importance of this, motivating her to create TCLoc, which is the only online master’s program that combines a degree in technical communication and localization with the tekom certification (offered in the technical communication module, which is identical to the TCTrainNet course -professional level- offered by tekom). Graduates of the program are therefore well-equipped with practical knowledge of technical communication as well as its related fields and tools. The program (including the TCTrainNet course) is constantly being updated to stay on top of new developments and technologies in this ever-evolving industry. It’s partnerships like TCLoc and tekom that promote high quality standards in education and the workplace.

Have you been to the tcworld conference? What did you think? Let us know in the comments below and join us next year at the tcworld conference in Stuttgart, Germany, November 3-5, 2020.

Would you like to validate and increase your experience as a technical writer? Click here to apply to the TCLoc master’s program!

GALA has always shown their support for the TCLoc and CAWEB Master’s Programs, allowing students to volunteer in exchange for free entry to their annual Language of Business conference. Therefore, it is with great pleasure that we announce our official membership to the association! Read more about the great resources and opportunities that TCLoc and CAWEB students can access thanks to this valuable partnership. 

What is GALA Conference?

For years, TCLoc and CAWEB students have enjoyed the opportunity to attend the Language of Business conference hosted by GALA. GALA is a global, non-profit association that unites companies in the language industry by creating connections, growing communities, and establishing professional best practices. Their annual, 3-day conference is an amazing, unique opportunity for sharing and networking in the fields of localization, translation, and interpretation (due to their partnership with InterpretAmerica).

To give an example of what their conferences are like, the 2019 conference, which was held in Munich, Germany, boasted over 500 attendees, 77 different speakers, and several different types of session formats, including short talks, interactive panels, and “KnowledgeFests”. Session categories ranged from research and technology and the future of the industry to business models and product demos, with topics focusing on the role of artificial intelligence in the language industry. In addition to the sessions, the conference also provided an orientation for newcomers, a “speed-networking”, a castle tour, and other special events. Companies in attendance included SDL, MateCat, MemoQ, Microsoft, and many more.

Opportunities for TCLoc and CAWEB students

All considered, it’s no surprise that our students make the most of this event, which turns out to be a life-changing experience for some of them. Thanks to the connections they made at the 2019 conference, CAWEB students João Antunes and Laura Jacquemin accepted job offers in the United States and Australia, respectively. Also, TCLoc student Rita Pang won the conference’s Rising Star Scholarship Contest with her article Human Problems: Machine Learning and the Language Industry, which earned her free admission to the conference and a travel stipend. Other students were able to volunteer in exchange for free entry, gaining valuable knowledge from and building relationships with established professionals from all over the world. CAWEB student Lauriane Girardeau describes the event as a great networking opportunity, organized by professionals in order to facilitate the exchange of information and ideas between companies and individuals to everyone’s benefit.

Our program director certainly agrees:
“GALA membership gives our staff and students a wonderful opportunity to access the organization’s diverse e-learning resources, connect with peers, and be part of a dynamic, global community.  We look forward to sharing our knowledge and participating in GALA’s programs and activities.”

-Renate de la Paix, Program Director, Master TCLoc – Master CAWEB

As we are now official members of GALA, students from the University of Strasbourg have free access to GALA member resources, such as publications, webinars, the GALA career center, open source projects, and more. This allows students to be even more involved and up-to-date regarding new developments and opportunities in the language industry.

Year after year, GALA achieves its goal to provide an inclusive, collaborative environment for professionals in the language industry. They will continue to do so next year at the 2020 conference in sunny San Diego, California, March 15-18. The theme, “Globalization 4.0: Shaping the Future of the Language Industry”, aims to challenge out-dated methods, rethink traditional approaches, brainstorm new possibilities, and drive innovation in the language industry. Why don’t you join us next year? In the meantime, you can find out more about GALA on their website, and even access their resources online.  See you next year!

On October 1-3, 2019, Proz.com celebrated its annual International Translation Day event, inviting dozens of language professionals to hold live sessions in order to discuss topics related to the translation industry, share their personal experiences, and answer various questions. Among them, Master TCLoc graduate student Rita Pang held a special conference during which she discussed the benefits of continuing education as a language professional. If you missed the presentation and are thinking about pursuing a postgraduate program, you’ve come to the right place! 

The benefits of continuing education

Continuing education, which refers to a broad range of post-secondary learning programs, is one of the fastest growing industries in the world. Indeed, there are many reasons as to why translators, interpreters, and technical writers choose to pursue such programs. In addition to obtaining more credentials leading to new career opportunities, it’s also a chance to connect and exchange with other professionals in the same field. As a result, your income flow could become more stable. Rita Pang highlights that, as a freelancer, you often experience dry periods or crazy rush periods, which are quite unpredictable. It’s only natural that you’d want to stabilize your income.

Whether you decide to go back to college for a degree program, or complete online courses (on Proz, Udacity or Udemy) or industry certifications such as the ATA’s, there are many ways to go about continuing your education in order to expand your credentials and be more sought after.  

Things to consider when choosing a postgraduate program 

In Rita’s case, she first went through a long research process to find the program that best suited her needs and expectations. Using a variety of channels, she looked for affordable, part-time programs that offered unique credentials or courses in her preferred locations of post-study work (Canada and Hong-Kong). “I can’t stress that enough, don’t forget to think about where you want to work after you finish your program, and how relevant will these new qualifications be in the places you want to work. Moreover, it’s very important that you contact the program coordinators, as well as people who’ve already done the program to ask for more details. I personally reached out to many alumnis and faculty members on LinkedIn, and received excellent advice.” 

However, if you’re a well-established professional, there are other aspects to consider before starting a new learning experience. The first question you need to ask yourself is whether a degree is absolutely necessary for you to achieve your financial and career goals. “Do I need a degree to prove that I can translate, especially after 9 years of experience and feedback from my clients? But for people who are just starting out in this industry, a degree might really help.” With that in mind, think about whether you can be consistent in your learning schedule, and maybe afford to put your career on hold for a while. Try to think everything through before enrolling in a program! 

Continuing education with the TCLoc Master’s Program 

Towards the end of her presentation, Rita listed the benefits of enrolling in her final choice, the TCLoc Master’s Program at the University of Strasbourg, France: 

  • It offers formal training in localization, translation, and technical writing.
  • It offers formal software and web language training (HTML, CSS, and PHP), which can be helpful to translators working in desktop publishing.
  • It’s part-time, remote, and taught entirely in English (French is not required).
  • It enables students to bond with like-minded individuals from different countries through small class teachings.

However, starting a new learning program is not without its challenges. “Juggling time between work and study is not easy. It can be extremely stressful and being consistent with your learning schedule is extremely difficult. TCLoc Master’s Program is remote, and requires a lot of self-discipline. You need to make sure you don’t procrastinate, and you might have to change social habits. It’s all about balance, you have to be organized and treat it like a job!”

If you’re interested in pursuing continuing education in technical communication and localization and have any questions about the TCLoc Master’s Program, feel free to visit our website and reach out to our Program Coordinators to get more information! You can also watch Rita Pang’s interview on our YouTube channel. 

They came from far and wide to receive their diplomas and gather one last time with their fellow students to celebrate and bond one last time before going their separate ways.

The ceremony also welcomed the CAWEB graduates, our sister program. The ceremony started with an opening speech by Renate de La Paix. It was then followed by Fanny Roubineau from the Continuing Education Department.

The highlight of the ceremony was the valedictorian speech. Madeleine Barois for CAWEB and Sabine Schmähl for TCLoc delivered it together. They underlined the amount of work that they had to put into their studies. Both expressed their gratitude towards their fellow students and the faculty, and underlined the quality of the programs which help them in their jobs on a daily basis.

sabine+madeleine

TCLoc valedictorian Sabine Schmähl and CAWEB valedictorian Madeleine Barois

“It is very impressive that such a relatively small team designed, built and coordinates not one but two very successful master programs that are both so multi-faceted and dynamic.”

After the new graduates received their diplomas from Mrs. Renate De La Paix, everyone gathered in the historical great hall of the Palais Universitaire to share a last drink, take pictures and exchange contact information.

renate anna

CAWEB graduate and former TCLoc website project manager Anna Maffesi receives her diploma from program director Renate De La Paix

To find out more about TCLoc master’s program, please visit the TCLoc Master’s website.

Click here to apply.

From April 10th until April 13th, current TCLoc students had the opportunity to get together on campus in Strasbourg. Students from the USA, Denmark, Germany, Qatar, Italy managed to beat the unusually frigid temperatures to find their way to campus. Besides finally meeting in person the people they’ve been collaborating with on a daily basis, students were thrilled to meet a few of their instructors and attend lectures.

On Wednesday morning, students go to meet members of the TEKOM team: Dr.Michael Fritz, Mr. Raymond Culp, Mrs. Monika Engleke and Mrs. Christine Keller. In the afternoon they moved on to listen to prof. Uta Seewald-Heeg Phd. of Hochschule Anhalt delve into the intricacies of software localization.

On Thursday afternoon, Kirk St. Amant of Louisiana Tech University gave his first lecture about the psychology of design.

Kirk's lecture
When designing products, taking biology and psychology into account is paramount

Friday was terminology day, with two lectures by Mark Childress from SAP and François Massion from DOG Gmbh. 

Saturday was a bit of a sweet sorrow, with the time of departure drawing nearer students had the chance to attend yet another fascinating lecture by Kirk St. Amant.

Many students regretted that the on-campus meeting didn’t last longer or that there were only two. For them, meeting their fellow students in person had been a time of connexion and exchange about their experiences, their projects and their dreams. It really was a moment that created a sense of belonging for all the students.

Even though TCLoc is distance-learning program, we know that nothing can replace actual human interaction.