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.
Checker & Coordinator
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 14 sessions have been held with 92 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)
The current eJuku team is composed of the three individuals—JA (Jeremy Angel), RS (Richard Sadowsky) and SY (Shu Yamakawa)—has been involved in the most recent nine J>E sessions, working with a total of 78 participants. JA and RS are native speakers of English representing its British and US varieties, while SY is a native speaker of Japanese acting as a checker and coordinator.
When it was first started, eJuku was a document-based training workshop. The “students” 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 draft to the “teachers” for their comments from the viewpoint of translation. Based on the teacher feedback, they could choose to finalize their translation. Questions and answers between the teachers and students were limited in volume and depth.
The current JA/RS/SY team followed basically the same approach when it first took over from the predecessors in 2011. The session went very well, but the three on the team nevertheless felt a keen need for greater interaction between the students and teachers, as well as among the students themselves. One-way classroom teaching could impart to the students some fragments of knowledge, but was limited in helping them develop as translators. After some introspection, the team came up with the current format.
- The participants (not “students”) should learn what translation is all about in a heuristic manner through peer-to-peer discussion with occasional help coming from the mentors (not “teachers”). (Note: The optimum number of participants is 5–7.)
- To ensure private, open-minded, and candid exchanges of opinion, a private discussion forum was provisioned inside a JAT-operated, internal-use-only website (Basecamp).
- For enhancing the interpersonal aspect of the program, two videoconferences are scheduled to be held — usually at the beginning and in the middle of the session. (Note: eJuku currently uses Google Hangouts, which enables group video chat at no cost, but since Hangouts is due to transform into Google Meet, the latter will likely be used for future sessions.)
A typical session looks like this:
Spring 2019 schedule (Actual)
February 1, Friday: Spring 2019 eJuku announced
February 12, Tuesday: Call closed
February 15, Friday: Applicants notified of results
March 3, Saturday: Forum set up on Basecamp
March 8, Friday: Translation submission deadline
March 9, Saturday: 1st Videoconference
March 23, Saturday: 2nd videoconference
March 30, Saturday: Forum closed and turned read-only
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 from the first day of discussion. During the forum discussion period, the team members — the two mentors plus the coordinator — access the forum several times a day and make necessary comments to assure lively discussions among the participants. After a period of several days to allow the participants to discuss their translations amongst themselves, the mentors share with the participants their own translations for each section and join in the message board discussion. 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. Proper names and other details are purposely changed to mask the origins of the text.
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.
As a measure of how busy things can get, 430 messages were exchanged during the discussion period of the Spring 2019 eJuku based on a source text of only 683 characters.
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 given above 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 each other, and growing together—and this philosophy can certainly be applicable in other environments as well. In fact, JATPHARMA, one of the special interest groups within JAT that specializes in pharmaceutical translation, conducted their first introductory workshop on pharma translation in 2015. The workshop, designed and conducted in the eJuku fashion, turned out to be a great success.