Check out the third episode of the SLD podcast, where the administrators and founders of SLD’s ATA exam practice group, Maria Guzenko and Eugenia Tietz-Sokolskaya, discuss how the group helps participants prepare for the ATA Certification Exam, their experience managing the group, and volunteering opportunities.
By Maria Guzenko
The Slavic Languages Division exam practice group is entering its second year. The background and activities of the group were covered in detail in our SlavFile article and a subsequent ATA Chronicle column. Now is a good time to report on how the group is doing.
To this end, the administrators of the group (currently Eugenia Tietz-Sokolskaya and Maria Guzenko) conducted a brief survey among group participants in late summer of 2017. We received responses from 21 group members. Although our sample was too small to be talking about any trends, we thought it may be interesting to share some numbers. The respondents had the option to skip questions, so some of our numbers will not add up to 21.
Of all respondents, 15 (71.4%) reported working in the English to Russian pair, 10 (47.6%) in Russian to English, 2 (9.5%) in English to Ukrainian, and 1 (4.8%) in Ukrainian to English, Polish to English, and French to English, each. Respondents had the option of choosing more than one combination.
Most participants (90%) were located in the United States, with one person located in Poland and Ukraine each. English to Russian was the most popular language combination for practice (14 respondents), followed by Russian to English (11), English to Ukrainian (2), Polish to English (1), and English to Polish (1). Unfortunately, none of the respondents reported joining the practice group in the Ukrainian to English, Croatian to English, and English to Croatian directions.
Experience with ATA Exams
Nine respondents (42.9%) had taken a certification exam before joining the practice group. Of those respondents, 4 did so in the English to Russian combination, 3 in Russian to English, 1 in Polish to English, and 1 in English to Ukrainian. Six of the participants who had taken the exam reported failing, while 2 reported passing.
Most of the respondents (66.7%) were planning to take the exam in the next year, with only 19% not planning to, and 14.3% undecided. The combinations in which candidates planned to take the exam were as follows: 12 English to Russian, 6 Russian to English, 1 Ukrainian to English, and 1 English to Ukrainian.
Thirteen (61.9%) of all participants reported taking the official ATA practice test, 8 in the English to Russian direction, 4 in Russian to English, and 1 in Polish to English.
By the time the survey was distributed, 33.3% (7) of the participants had taken the certification exam. The most popular exam directions were English to Russian (3), Russian to English (2), Ukrainian to English (1), and Polish to English (1). 57.1% (4) reported failing, and 28.6 % (2) reported passing, with the remaining respondent waiting for their result. Since then, we have heard from at least three more participants that they had passed.
Of all participants, 23.8% reported participating in the group weekly, 28.6% monthly, 19% occasionally, and 28.6% had ceased to participate in the group’s activities. Of those no longer actively participating, 50% said they planned to return to the group in the future, 33.3% answered “maybe,” and 16.7% (1 person) was not planning to resume participating.
Practice Group Rankings
On a scale of 1 (worst) to 5 (best), the average rankings for the following categories were:
- User-friendliness of the Slack website: 4.00
- Source texts for practice translations: 4.63
- Feedback from peers: 3.94
- Feedback from certified translators/graders: 4.12
- Admin responsiveness: 5.00
- Scheduling of practice rounds: 4.80
- Improving my translation skills: 4.53
- Enhancing my familiarity with exam standards and procedure: 4.26
Most participants (44%) found the feedback received from their peers “very useful,” 33% “somewhat useful,” 11.1% “not very useful,” and 11.1% “have not received feedback.”
We also received some useful verbal feedback from the respondents, which was covered in the Chronicle column. In a nutshell, most participants appreciated the group, although some wished the online platform were easier to navigate, participation were steadier, and peer feedback were more consistent.
We plan to continue and expand practice group activities in the coming year. To join us as a participant or volunteer reviewer, please get in touch with Eugenia (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Maria (email@example.com).
Maria Guzenko is an English>Russian translator working in the healthcare and corporate domains. She holds an MA in Translation from Kent State University and has worked as a translation project manager and a Russian instructor. She is a co-administrator of the certification exam online practice group for ATA’s Slavic Languages Division.