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APTRAD Congress 2019

20 Oct 2019

During my recent travel to Brazil I had the opportunity to attend two Translation and Interpreting conferences. The first was the first ever APTRAD (Portuguese Association of Translators) Congress in Brazil – from 15 to 18 August 2019, and the second was TRADUSA IV (, the fourth Brazilian meeting of medical and healthcare translators, from 23 to 24 August 2019. Both were in Sao Paulo, my home city, with a population of over 12 million.

“Going beyond our borders” was the theme of the 1st APTRAD Congress in Brazil The aim was to introduce APTRAD to the translation community in Brazil, which includes experienced professionals and academics, as well as students and newbies. The keynotes included a panel of “3i” speakers – which stands for interesting, inspiring and innovative. Round table discussions were also held, on subjects including neuro-semantics, indigenous interpretation, technical translation, and legal translation & interpreting.

Paula Ribeiro, APTRAD president, from Porto, Portugal, spoke about specialisation, recognition and certification. She explained that translators are communication vehicles; they interpret the present to translate the future.

What particularly inspired me about APTRAD were its objectives: to be a meeting point for Portuguese translators and interpreters, to give value and credibility to its professionals, to promote high standards in the profession, and to give guidance to people starting out in the profession.

Founded in 2015, with more than 500 members around the world working to and from Portuguese, APTRAD collaborates directly with universities to develop training content, disseminate themes and recommend approaches, to ensure that translators and interpreters are being trained in the right material to enable them to succeed in their profession. It has protocols with three universities in Portugal, Universidade do Minho, ISCAP – Instituto de Contabilidade e Administração do Porto (part of the Instituto Politécnico do Porto) and Universidade Autónoma de Lisboa ( It promotes its own accredited Masters’ programme in translation and interpreting, it has a strong presence online, and it organises informal meetings as well as national and international conferences.

It’s worth mentioning one thing that APTRAD offers, which I would love to see here in New Zealand, and that is their mentoring programmes.

The aim of the mentoring programmes is for expert professionals to help and support less experienced colleagues to develop their careers. This involves offering advice on good practice, and better tools to help new colleagues to enter the labour market. It is a voluntary collaboration with professionals who dedicate their time to this initiative. The role of the mentor is to pass on their personal experience, guide and advise, and to give feedback. Having the support of a mentor is invaluable for those who are just entering the market and don’t know where to start.

The programme has three levels:

The basic mentoring program (Mentoring EST) is offered to students completing their qualification or to recent graduates, so they can benefit from the support and guidance of experienced professionals when starting out in their careers.

Mentoring PRO is for translators with some experience who are interested in working in a new area of expertise (e.g. legal, medical, technical), or who are looking to boost their experience and grow their careers, while avoiding pitfalls.

Mentoring CONS is for translators and interpreters who have experience of working in their field, but are seeking some type of specialised advice. PRO and CONS are both paid programmes. Other main sub-themes among the presentations at APTRAD and TRADUSA were Industry 4.0 and Specialisation.

Industry 4.0 covers an era of worldwide innovations that are transforming the way translators and interpreters work. Machine learning, artificial intelligence, virtual assistants, blockchain, 3D printing, payment by facial recognition, IoT, humanised internet – all of these innovations will have an impact on our daily lives and on the way we work. We need to be prepared to embrace these innovations and use them to our benefit. AI, robots and intelligence automation will require us to undertake new training; in short, advances in technology mean that we need to upskill.

With respect to specialisation, as professionals and as an association, we all need to be prepared for these changes; we need to keep up-to-date and keep our minds open to these new forms of work; we need continuous professional development and specialisation. Enrique Cavallito ( explained that specialisation does not mean working only in specialised areas, but it means concentrating on specific areas in our learning and professional development and in our self-marketing. Specialisation is a strategy for success, it requires expertise, and it offers benefits in two areas – marketing and productivity.

Specialising also means that we need to have a deep and fundamental knowledge of our clients’ needs and peculiarities, and the markets they are operating in.

Both of these events allowed me to update my knowledge, learn new methods, strengthen skills, and to network; in a nutshell, they proved to be a wonderful opportunity for continuous professional development. I am looking forward to my next conference.

By Marcella Selwyn


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