Translation Certification 2017-12-15T16:05:48+00:00

English <> Spanish Translation Certification by Teleconference

Mondays from 6:15 PM to 8:15 PM, Pacific Time from January 8 to May 7, 2017.

Registration for 2018 closed – maximum class size registered

To sign up for next year, please email

CE Credits awarded for 2018

  • 10 language-specific CE credits granted by Court Language Access Services (Oregon) for Oregon Court Interpreters.

CE Credits awarded for the 2017 course, being requested for 2018

  • 12 General CEU hours granted by WA AOC for Washington-state credentialed interpreters.
  • 6 CE Credits approved by WA DSHS (line 163)

The 2014 ATA compensation survey shows that certified translators earn an average of $10,000 more per year than non-certified translators. The ATA exam has a pass rate of under 20%. According to the article referenced, for English into Russian the average pass rate is 18.51%. For Spanish into English, it is 10.64%, and for English into Spanish it is 11.61%. Please click on this link for detailed information on specific languages. In this training, we will provide resources to help translators understand how to approach the ATA exam and become better translators in the process.

The coordinator and Spanish instructor

Helen Eby, owner of Gaucha Translations, is an ATA-certified translator (Spanish>English) and a certified DSHS Translator (English > Spanish) by the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services. She is also a Spanish state-certified (Oregon) court interpreter and a medical interpreter certified by the Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters (CCHI) as well as the Oregon Health Authority.

One of Helen’s major interests is guiding translators and interpreters who are just entering the profession. This commitment to helping newcomers prompted her to co-found The Savvy Newcomer, a blog that is now recognized as a go-to resource for launching a career in translation and interpreting.

Helen’s background as an English and Spanish teacher also led to her involvement with Cuatro Mosqueteras, a team of bloggers working to improve Spanish writing, as well as her participation in the ASTM work group for translation standards.

Helen is a member of the American Translators Association, the International Medical Interpreters Association, and the National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators among others. She served as president of the Oregon Society of Translators and Interpreters from January 2014 to September 2016.

This is a Gaucha Translations program, not an ATA program. Helen Eby is not an ATA Certification Exam Grader. The text written on this website, the blog posts written by the instructors, and other materials, reflect the opinion of the instructors, not the view of ATA unless otherwise expressed explicitly. Gaucha Translations and the instructors make no guarantees of participants passing any particular exam, because passing an exam depends on many variables. As a matter of fact, no instructor ever guarantees that all his students will pass his own final exam!

Technical requirements

  • Computer with good internet connection (participants will be entering answers on their computers on a regular basis)
  • Headset (using speakers for audio creates echoes for the other listeners)
  • Microphone (all participants will be interacting live on their microphones)

How does the program work?

This program meets online, on Mondays, from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm Pacific time, from January 15 to May 15. See the Syllabus for a detailed schedule. Login details will be sent to registered participants.

The program involves a combination of homework assignments, class participation, and guest speakers. Class participation is key. Four of the fifteen sessions will be led by highly respected guest speakers. Their bios can be found in the link above, and the dates are listed in the Syllabus. The other eleven sessions will be led by Helen Eby.

On the sessions led by the main instructor, participants will be assigned a translation. Participants will draft it and send it to their peer reviewer for that week. The texts will be sent to the participants through the listserv. In order to learn from different colleagues, reviewers will be reassigned regularly.

Sharing reviewed translations is one of the key components of this program, since it is critical to learn how to look at our own work as an exam grader would. It is often easier to start this process by looking at a colleague’s work, and then transferring those concepts to looking at our own work more objectively. In 2016, the participants embraced the value of translation as teamwork through this process.

Time commitment

  • 2 hour weekly class (teleconference) on Mondays
  • 1 hour 15 minutes doing the translation on WordPad (this replicates ATA exam conditions)
  • 45 minutes reviewing partner’s work, preferably after doing one’s own translation, following the ATA list of mistakes and points
  • Discussion on listserv  created for the group: optional but helpful
  • Total: minimum 4 hours/week.

Books used in this course

Through this study program, we expect participants to accomplish the following

  • Understand the ATA grading scale in greater depth, and internalize it so they can “think like a grader.”
  • Transfer the skills they acquire to their daily work.
  • Identify their own strengths and weaknesses in translation, and evaluate which language pair is stronger.
  • Make a plan of future steps for improvement in translation.

Understand the results of the ATA Practice test when they receive them, so they can take steps for improvement before taking an ATA certification exam.

On the other hand, the program does not provide:

  • A guarantee that participants will pass the ATA or WA DSHS Certification exam. No program can ever make that promise! See this article for pass rates for the ATA exam.
  • A series of lectures with no participant involvement.

A promise that the instructor will review all translations in thorough detail. Helen will review translations submitted to her on time for class after they have been seen by the peer reviewer, and will offer up to four helpful comments. Based on her teaching experience, Helen believes that participants generally do not benefit from more than three helpful comments in a review. Her comments will be a combination of “This was excellent” and “I think you could improve on this by doing…”

Changes in the 2017 ATA Exam:

Until 2016, ATA had two specialized texts to choose from: B (technical, scientific or medical) and C (financial, business or legal in the broadest sense). We will continue to use these texts, though ATA does not test for them any more. Why study them?

  • These topics often appear in general texts, and we need to have an orientation in problem solving for these issues. These topics will be introduced by specialists: One who specializes in L2 to L1, and one who specializes in L1 to L2.
  • Participants who are taking the exam to be certified as a DSHS Certified Document Translator in WA State (36% pass rate), still have to meet the following requirements: “The translator test covers such subject matter areas as social services, legal services, and medical services. Categories of texts included in the test range from general to semi-technical.” (See this article.)

The changes in the ATA certification exam are summarized below.

Handwritten. Keyboarded exams available at sites where it is feasible.
Text A (general) is mandatory.
Testee must also choose to translate either text B or text C (specialized topics).
Testee translates two general texts (A, in previous years), which they select from three given to them.
Prerequisites must be met to take exam. No prerequisites to take exam.

Guidelines for the ATA computerized exam

Online resource list

Trainers: All trainers have been carefully chosen to provide excellent input for translators. In 2016, these trainers were the highlight of the sessions for participants in the OSTI study group.

See their bios here.

Input from the instructors: They will look at the reviewed translations briefly, before the session, if they receive them by the Friday morning before the session, and provide input to the translation team. They will not mark all errors or all points in which the translation excelled, but just the highlights of how the team can improve in the future.

Prerequisites to join the program: Participants will have to provide a short sample translation assigned by the instructor and answer two questions briefly, one in each language, before being accepted into the program. This is simply to ensure that the participants have the writing and language transfer skills to participate in this program productively and give their colleagues helpful feedback.


The cost depends on whether the participant pays cash up front or not, and whether the participant is a member of a professional association or not. Click here for a list.

Price per month (4 payments) $200 $180
Total for 4 months $800 $720
Discounted price for payment in full $725 $625

Other costs involved in taking the ATA certification exam:


Washington State DSHS Document Translator Certification Exam and ATA Certification exam compared

Register For Translation Training

Registration for 2018 closed – maximum class size registered

To sign up for next year, please email