Translation and Interpreting Career Paths and Opportunities at Aston University

The past 25th November the event ‘Translation and Interpreting Career Paths and Opportunities’ took place at Aston University. This proved to be an interesting event for students who are considering a (post)graduate degree in translation and/or interpreting, or those who simply wanted to find out more about the professions and the opportunities which these can yield.

This event aimed to bring together employees, practitioners, postgraduate students and anyone interested in these interesting careers. The event included:

  • Employer and alumni panels, such as “Working as a Translator for the European Union” and “Working as a Translator in the Games Localisation Industry”.
  • A student panel which gave a real perception of what it is like to train as an interpreter or translator
  • An exhibition, refreshment and networking session where people in attendance could talk to panellists and representatives from the Networks’ universities
  • Three different taster sessions in games translation, public service interpreting and working with machine translation

This was a very well attended event, where students from all levels (from GCSE to university students), as well as professionals and employers, got to discuss their views and shared their experiences in translation and interpreting. It was a day where everybody learnt about the importance of languages and the important role that translation and interpreting studies have in professional and academic settings.


I am now in my second year of working for the BEDA program (Bilingual English Development and Assessment Program) as a language assistant in the Spanish capital, Madrid. I first joined the program during my placement year of my Spanish and International Relations degree in Aston and fell in love with the city.


Firstly, I’d just like to highlight how great Madrid is. It is one of the most vibrant and international places I have ever been to, and every day is different. It has also been, in my experience, a brilliant place to learn Spanish.


Volunteering for Syria.

Volunteering for Syria.

As for the work side of things, being a language assistant is a very rewarding job. I remember when I was first placed in a classroom of 30 year 7 children aged 11-12 (1st of ESO as they call it here) and had to give a class. I was absolutely terrified! After that, I slowly got used to assuming the role of a teacher, and started to really enjoy it. This year it’s even better, because I know exactly what I’m doing and I have a great relationship with the staff and kids at my school; Santa Rita. I think the best part is watching kids dive into an activity I’ve created, and helping them see that they do actually know English, they just lack confidence in themselves. They show so much love and appreciation for you at all ages, and when you see them improve, and know you played a big part in that, it’s something magic.


My volunteer group with the homeless

My volunteer group with the homeless

Aside from the teaching, which, of course, involves speaking English for a big chunk of the working week, there are plenty of opportunities to speak Spanish. I haven’t found that the job impedes anyway on my language learning. For example, in Madrid it is so easy to do conversation exchanges with native Spanish speakers after work or during the weekends. As so many people need English for work these days, there is an abundance of people to choose from, and in my experience, they can become really good friends (and take you to their “pueblos” for fun traditional meals and parties with their friends and families!)  In addition to the exchanges, I have lived with Spaniards both years I’ve been in Madrid, joined NGOs where I volunteer with local people, for the homeless and refugees, and even just met Spanish friends through other people as you would do normally at home.

I’d recommend anyone to spend a year in this truly wonderful part of the world which is now, most definitely, my second home.

Being in Spain but still able to feel Welsh!

Being in Spain but still able to feel Welsh!






Durante el próximo mes de Abril (2016) se celebrará en la Universidad de Aston la I Conferencia Internacional “Cine español: género y estudios etarios”. A dicho evento asistirán como invitadas Alicia Luna (guionista), Elvira Mínguez (actriz), Carla Subirana (guionista y directora) y Virginia Yagüe (guionista, productora y Presidenta de CIMA).

En la conferencia se analizará la presencia de la mujer, en concreto de la mujer mayor, en el cine español. Algunas de los aspectos que el congreso quiere explorar son los siguientes:

  1. ¿Existe discriminación de género (sexismo) y por razón de edad  en la industria cinematográfica española?
  2. ¿Se está produciendo  en el cine español un cambio en el tipo de películas y la inclusión de personajes de la tercera y cuarta edades en consonancia al cambio demográfico de envejecimiento de la sociedad española?
  3. ¿Quién es el público del cine español? ¿Es todavía el espectador joven?

La fecha exacta en la que se desarrollará el congreso será del 14 al 16 de Abril. Este se realizará gracias a las labores de organización llevadas a cabo por Raquel Medina (Aston University) y Barbara Zecchi (University of Massachusetts, Amherst).


This coming April (2016) the First International Conference “Spanish Cinema: age and gender studies” will be held at Aston University. The event will host Alicia Luna (writer), Elvira Minguez (actress), Carla Subirana (writer and director) and Virginia Yagüe (writer, producer and president of CIMA).

The conference will explore the role of women, particularly senior women, in Spanish cinema. Some of the aspects that the Congress wants to explore are:

  1. Is there gender discrimination (sexism) and ageism in the Spanish film industry?
  2. Is Spanish cinema undergoing a change in the type of films produced and the characters it features, particularly the inclusion of the third and fourth ages, in line with the demographic changes Spanish society is experiencing?
  3. Who is the audience of Spanish cinema? Is still a young audience?

The exact date on which the conference will be held will be 14th to 16th April. The Conference will be made possible thanks to the organization of Raquel Medina (Aston University) and Barbara Zecchi (University of Massachusetts, Amherst).

The Spanish Section hosted the talk: ‘The “New” Left: Spanish General Elections in the European Context

Last Thursday 10th December the Spanish section organised a lunch-time discussion on the upcoming Spanish general elections (20th December), and what seems to be a landmark moment for the new left-wing alternative, Podemos. Dr Pablo Calderón Martínez (Lecturer in Spanish), Dr Helena Farrand-Carrapico (Deputy Director of Aston Centre for Europe) and Dr Ed Turner (Head of Politics and International Relations) started the conversation by addressing the context in which Podemos emerged as a real political alternative, the broader European implications, as well as the reasons why such movements emerge in some countries and not in others. The short presentations were followed by a lively discussion with students and other academics.



Award-winning authors Kirmen Uribe and Jesús Carrasco visited Aston University

Back in October, the Spanish section at Aston University welcome acclaimed and award-winning writers Kirmen Uribe, from the Basque Country, and Jesús Carrasco, from Andalusia. Kirmen Uribe talked about his experience as a writer in the Basque language, as a translator of some of his own work into Spanish, and also as a translated authors into a number of languages. He defines himself as “a poet of wide concerns, politically engaged, with an inclusive, humanist awareness and a direct, distinctive voice”. For more info, visit Uribe’s website (in English). Jesús Carrasco explained what motivates him as a writer and gave us some hints about the novel he is currently working on.  Both writers visited Aston as part of a literary tour organised by the Instituto Cervantes which took them to different cities across the UK.
Uribe y Carrasco - Aston University (5) Uribe y Carrasco - Aston University (2)

LTS Film Week – Even the rain

On 4 November 2015 the extraordinary film Even the rain (También la lluvia) was shown as part of the “LTS Film Week”. The movie, directed by Iciar Bollarían (2010) was shown in Spanish with English subtitles and followed by a discussion about the wider themes of sustainability and the environment.

También la lluvia presents a movie within a movie. Throughout the film we can see how a Spanish director, Sebastián (Gael García Bernal), his producer, Costa (Luis Tosar), and all his crew are in Bolivia, in the Cochabamba area, to shoot a film about Christopher Columbus and the way the Spaniards treated the Indians in the times of colonisation. Costa’s budget is quite limited so he decides to shoot the movie in Bolivia in order to take advantage of cheap local actors and extras. Things go smoothly until a conflict erupts over the privatization of the water supply, and one of the main actors bceomes a leading activist in the protest movement.

The dramatic movie También la lluvia is a complex movie where controversial issues are shown, as for example, the hunger and the access to basic needs. It has won 3 Premios Goyas (Spanish Awards) in 2010.


Dr. Pablo Calderón Martínez on the BBC today

Dr Pablo Calderón Martínez, Lecturer in Spanish at Aston, spoke in the BBC World’s program ‘World Business Report’ on the prospects for the Spanish economy after the new released GDP figures indicate the Spanish economy has been consistently growing for the last eight quarters. This means that Spain is in line to become Europe’s fastest growing economy. Yet not everything is rosy. Pablo briefly discusses how the Spanish economy needs to keep growing to recover what was lost during the recession, as well as the grim prospects for long-lasting recovery if structural problems are not addressed. You can see the full interview here.

7 incredible weeks in a small town called Benissa by Nabihah Malik

IMG_7839This summer I was lucky enough to receive the opportunity to work as a Primary English teacher with Inglaterra en Casa. I can honestly say that the moment I landed back in the UK and stepped off that flight, the nostalgia already began to kick in.

When I first heard that I’d received the job I was absolutely ecstatic – totally over the moon. (I didn’t actually think I would get it!) Upon arriving in Valencia late evening, it was an hour or so drive to Benissa. I couldn’t really see much as the sun had already set and if it is at all possible to get jet-lag from a 2 hour flight, then I was suffering from it! As I’d arrived a few days early, I had the opportunity to explore the town; I embraced my chance to be a tourist with open arms! Benissa is very small, and I mean you could probably tour the whole town in half a day, but that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy what I saw. The streets, although very tranquil, were filled with vibrant colours and reflected the culture of Benissa beautifully. The locals were all very friendly and welcoming and I basically (uh-oh get ready for the cliché) fell in love with the town! (I did warn you!)


Some photos of the town – Catedral de la Marina, Calle de lagrimas (but they were happy tears!) and the best chocolate cake in the world at my favourite café in Benissa, La Font!

Over the course of the 7 weeks, I worked with the most brilliant EPIC team of people. Amongst the team there were different roles, but we all worked together day in and day out and had such a great time. It’s not just the staff that made this a great trip; but the children I taught definitely made this adventure one to remember. Let’s just say children sure do have a mind of their own! (Apparently I’m 32, let’s just leave it at that shall we haha)

The kids I taught spanned between the ages of 7- 14. The idea was quite simple, to help them learn and improve their English but in an inspirational, motivational and fun way through activities and lessons. After all it is the summer, the last thing you want to do is to be sat in a boring school lesson! Whether it was English, Conversation, Drama, Cooking, Media or even Sports, children had the opportunity to enhance their level of English vocabulary and build on their speaking, writing and reading skills. Not to mention, the house system which was based on the well-known novel Harry Potter, was a great incentive and had the students fully engaged in all lessons and activities in order to gain points for their individual houses. If you were the winning house at the end of the week, you could sponge nominated staff members! Now …why would you want to miss an occasion like that?


My INK Family :)

Students over the course of these 7 fantastic weeks (I’m sure in their eyes too), experienced British Culture in a way like no other. Not only did some of them have the amazing opportunity to live with British host families to gain the maximum experience, but whether it was through building volcanoes in science, making a zombie movie in media, treasure hunting around Benissa or taking part in a typically British sports day- every child could walk out of Inglaterra en Casa this summer saying that they had successfully powered their English!! I’ve without a doubt had THE time of my life.

ink hands 2

Spanish section scoop academic awards

Spanish Award Winners Raquel Fernandez Sanchez and  Juan José Jiménez-Anca with Jake Delaney

Juan José Jiménez-Anca with Raquel Ferández Sánchez with Student Union Vice-President Jake Delaney

The Astonishing Academics Awards took place on 19 March. We had a fantastic evening with colleagues from all Schools across the University, students, the Vice-Chancellor and Deputy Vice-Chancellor.

We are delighted that a number of academics from the Spanish section at Aston were nominated for awards and would like to thank all our students for their appreciation and continuous support.

Juan José Jiménez-Anca and Raquel Fernández-Sánchez won the awards of Best Use of Technology and Most Motivational Academic.

Members of the team were also nominated for two of the most hotly contested awards: Raquel Medina and Aurelio Ramos Caballero for Best Personal Tutor, and Aurelio and Raquel Fernández-Sánchez for Most Engaging Academic.

Spanish section academics at the Astonishing Academics awards

Spanish section academics Raquel Fernández-Sánchez, Raquel Medina, Juan José Jiménez-Anca, Aurelio Ramos Caballero with colleagues Nathalie Mrgudovic and Graeme Hayes

Professor Julia King, Vice-Chancellor, with Raquel Medina and Raquel Fernández-Sánchez

Professor Julia King, Vice-Chancellor, with Raquel Medina and Raquel Fernández-Sánchez

Here are some of the comments our students made about us:

“Raquel Medina is one of the most approachable members of staff. She will always find time to see you and help to put you on the right path.”

“Aurelio always goes out of his way to make sure everyone is happy and shows a genuine interest in his students, a lot of whom I know appreciate him as much as I do.”

“From my first year Aurelio showed interest in his tutees and he was always there when you needed to talk to someone. During my placement year he often dropped emails to check on me and I found his gesture and his guidance very useful when I was in Spain.”

“Raquel Fernández is always available for any advice or help needed. Very inspirational as she seems so passionate about her language.”

“Juanjo has only been my teacher this year, however he brought along a big change in my lectures. His use of technology in giving feedback or in teaching us Spanish has been incredibly high and I am glad that due to his effort I am now aware of what a PDP is and how to successfully do one in Pebble Pad. He was also fine with us submitting work online via DropBox and he recorded the feedback so that we could always go back and listen to it. I found it very useful!”

“I always look forward to Raquel Fernández classes. They are always interesting and she makes me proud to be studying Spanish.”

“Aurelio has a way of making students feel that they can contribute without being judged. This is really important because it means that more people participate; this, along with his enthusiasm, makes his lectures a pleasure.”

Thank you to Aston Student’s Union for organising another successful event and celebrating excellence in both support and teaching.

Astonishing Academic Awards

The Spanish Section is delighted that four of its members have been nominated for the Astonishing Academics Awards. The awards celebrate academic excellence and impact made on students.

Raquel Medina, Aurelio Ramos Caballero, Juan José Jiménez and Raquel Fernández would like to thank all students who nominated them and look forward to an evening celebrating with them and other colleagues. The ceremony takes place on Wednesday 19 March. Keep an eye on this blog to find out how they got on!