The ATA Chronicle - November/December 2023 - 35

CERTIFICATION FORUM By David Stephenson
Why Isn't ATA Certification
Offered in My Language?
ATA currently offers certification in 34 language pairs, but there's
always room for more as long as certain criteria are met. As a memberdriven
organization, ATA provides support for establishing certification
in new language pairs, but the work required to reach this milestone
must be done by members who work in those very languages. What
follows is an overview of the process for establishing a new pair.
(For the full process, see " Procedure for Establishing a New Language
Combination " on ATA's website.)
Demand: Obviously, ATA
cannot offer certification
in all the thousands of
languages used around the
world today. Which languages
make the cut depends largely
on the extent of grassroots
interest in certification. This
is reflected first and foremost
in the willingness of one or
more persons to seize the
initiative and complete the
steps necessary for approval
www.ata-chronicle.online
as a new certifiable pair. But
in addition to this core group
of committed volunteers, it's
also necessary to document
broader interest. This is done
in the form of a petition
signed by 50 individuals
interested in sitting for the
exam once it's offered, of
which at least 25 must be ATA
members. A few other rules
apply as well. The reason for
these hurdles is to ensure
that interest in the exam
among translators working
in that pair is sufficient to
justify administrative efforts,
and that certification doesn't
become available only to
disappear soon thereafter.
Team-Building: Once
sufficient interest has been
documented, a workgroup
of four or more qualified
individuals must come
together to take the next
steps, under the guidance
of a liaison from ATA's
Certification Committee.
The workgroup should
include a few who are willing
to serve as initial graders
once testing begins-and
who will thus forfeit the
opportunity to earn the
credential themselves until
replacements can be recruited
from among the pool of
successful candidates. At this
stage it's vital that the team
members get a feel for each
other's relative strengths and
weaknesses. (This includes
getting to know each other's
personality, since graders
will end up working very
closely together in a variety
of situations.) During this
period team members can
also attend grader training,
both in-person and online,
and they are granted access
to the Certification Program
collaboration platform.
Training and Passage
Selection: Once a team has
coalesced, they must spend
time studying ATA's grading
standards and procedures in
depth, so as to ensure that
their work will be consistent
with the rest of the program.
Meanwhile, they can begin
looking for suitable texts
in their source language
and submitting them for
preliminary review. The
team liaison will be of great
assistance here, especially
in filtering out completely
unsuitable prospective texts
and explaining why they
don't hit the mark. Passage
selection is a key process
on the path to approval.
Given the major role passage
selection plays even for
established language pairs,
American Translators Association 35
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The ATA Chronicle - November/December 2023

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