e-Juku is an online skill-building program, in which students translate the same short text, refine it based on input from checkers who are native speakers of the source language, and receive feedback from veteran translators who are native speakers of the target language. This all takes place via a web-based forum and e-mails over one or two months
If you wish to participate in the next session, please send an email to e-Juku Committee.
You can’t get opportunities like this anywhere else... it is enormously valuable for newbies.
It's been a remarkable experience for me.
eJuku has been a truly eye-opening and educational experience for me, and I also enjoyed it very much.
I joined JAT without knowing that such learning opportunities existed, and it made me very glad that I did join.
Coordinator and Mentor:
An Overview of JAT’s eJuku Program
JAT (Japan Association of Translators) is committed to catering to the needs of its membership. One of the most frequent requests is for JAT to offer translator training programs. In addition to the regular monthly meetings and IJET (International Japanese-English Translation) and other conferences, which offer a variety of training opportunities for practicing translators, JAT launched a program in 2009 specifically designed to give novice translators hands-on introductory training in the art of translation. JAT officers who worked on this program in its initial years, including Fred Uleman, Helen Iwata and Jeremy Whipple, gave it the moniker 'eJuku'.
As of this writing, a total of 15 sessions have been held with 110 participants, as shown below. Nos. 2 and 7 were E-to-J sessions. Nos. 5 and 12 had two back-to-back sessions.
Past eJuku sessions at a glance
( ) indicates the number of participants
No.1 J>E 1 October 2009 (3)
No.2 E>J 1 January 2010 (3)
No.3 J>E 2 February 2010 (3)
No.4 J>E 3 November 2011 (3)
No.5 J>E 4 April 2012 (5)(4)
No.6 J>E 5 October 2012 (8)
No.7 E>J 2 August 2013 (5)
No.8 J>E 6 September 2013 (5)
No.9 J>E 7 September 2014 (8)
No.10 J>E 8 March 2015 (7)
No.11 J>E 9 February 2016 (7)
No.12 J>E 10 April 2017 (8)(9)
No.13 J>E 11 March 2018 (8)
No.14 J>E 12 March 2019 (6)
No.15 J>E 13 April 2020 (9)
No.16 J>E 14 April 2021 (9)
The current eJuku mentoring team is composed of four veteran wordsmiths: Danny MacLeith, David Ulvog, Richard Sadowsky, and Shu Yamakawa. (Jeremy Angel--in the video above--stepped down after the 2021 session. Thanks for your brilliant service, Jeremy!).
When it was first started, eJuku was strictly a document-based training workshop. The participants translated the source text into English and emailed their work to the checker for review in terms of source text comprehension. The students then submitted their revised drafts to the mentors for their comments from the viewpoint of translation. Based on the mentors' feedback, they could choose to finalize their translation. Questions and answers between the mentors and participants were limited in volume and depth.
The next team followed basically the same approach when it first took over from the program's predecessors in 2011. The session went very well, but the team nevertheless felt a keen need for greater interaction between the participants and mentors, as well as among the participants themselves. The format underwent some changes:
- The participants are given the opportunity to learn what translation is all about in a heuristic manner through peer-to-peer discussion with occasional help coming from the mentors.
- To ensure private, open-minded, and candid exchanges of opinion, a closed discussion forum was provisioned in JAT's Basecamp communication system.
- For enhancing the interpersonal aspect of the program, videoconferences were held and expanded in number. (Today we use Zoom.)
Spring 2022 schedule (tentative)
Start of April: eJuku publicly announced; Call for Participants sent to inquirers
Call closed within 7 to 10 days
Applicants screened; participants selected and notified
Forum set up on Basecamp, session begins
Around the third week of April: Initial translation deadline
April 23, Saturday 10:00 a.m. JST: 1st videoconference & forum discussion
April 30, Saturday 10:00 a.m. JST: 2nd videoconference & forum discussion
May 7, Saturday 10:00 a.m. JST: 3rd videoconference & forum discussion
May 14, Saturday 10:00 a.m. JST: 4th videoconference & additional discussion
Questionnaire distributed and responded to
May 21, Saturday: Forum closed; turned read-only before closing
At the start of the discussion period, one of the mentors creates and uploads an Excel file dividing the source text into sentences or other sensible sections, with the participants’ translations for each section listed below, so that participants have access to each other’s attempts (and most recently, the mentors' versions, as well) from the first day of discussion. During the forum discussion period, the team members — the three mentors plus the checker — access the forum regularly but try to allow the participants to discuss their translations amongst themselves. They will also join in to share their thoughts in the message board discussion, as deemed appropriate, making necessary comments to assure lively discussions among the participants. The participants not only learn from each other, but soon see the solutions provided by the more experienced translators. This methodology allows participants to analyze everything and develop the skill to translate on their own, rather than simply to be handed answers.
The source text used in a typical J>E session is a general, non-technical passage (usually about 400-600 characters in length) chosen by one of the mentors from real-world situations. The 2022 session will feature multiple passages to submit week by week, offering a chance for participants to apply what they learn as they go along.
During the entire period of an eJuku session, the participants can ask the mentors any career-related questions, as well as any general translation questions which are not directly related to the source text. The real-time video conferences seem to be an ideal venue for this kind of conversation. (The videoconferences are recorded for those unable to participate.)
As a matter of principle, eJuku is free, with participants contributing nothing but their time and enthusiasm. The only other requirement is that they join JAT if they are not already members. Team members, too, receive no monetary compensation for the time they spend on eJuku activities, but the rewards of participation are great enough to keep them going. They are committed to, and enjoy, helping people to learn and develop their skills and careers.
Toward the end of each session, the coordinator distributes a questionnaire to get feedback from the participants. On a scale of 1 to 7, with 7 being the best, the session regularly receives 6s and 7s. The JAT website page on eJuku includes a few of these favorable testimonials. Although the organizers are always looking for ways to improve eJuku, participants often agree that it was an excellent learning experience.
It takes a long time for a novice translator to become a seasoned practitioner. No attempts have yet been made to follow up on the movements of the former participants. Interestingly, however, some former participants have become very active JAT members serving on various committees.
eJuku embodies an altruistic spirit—the belief in the value of learning, the joy of teaching and learning from each other, and growing together—and this philosophy can certainly be applicable in other environments as well. There are now special interest groups such as JATPHARMA and JATLAW that hold their own meetings and workshops.
5. Next eJuku session
The Spring 2021 eJuku session was completed in early June. The next session is taking place in April and May 2022. An announcement is posted on the JAT Website when the details are set. The application window may be quite short, so keep checking the JAT Website for news and other information if you are interested in participating in an upcoming eJuku.
Eligibility requirements for participation in the J-to-E eJuku session are:
1. JAT membership (non-members are required to join JAT if selected to participate)
2. Native or near-native English proficiency (eJuku requires already superb English)
3. Ideally no more than a couple of years' experience as a professional translator
4. High motivation to learn and a commitment to participate actively in the videoconferences and written discussions