Coursera: Free courses in the era of technology

“Translator: a curious being, a keen learner, someone committed to life long developement”.  That would be my answer if someone asked me to define translator in my own words.

But why do I begin with this definition?  Simply because competition is fierce out there. Let’s admit it; if you do not try your best in matters of education or if you cannot keep up with the latest trends in the global language services market, you are lost.

Investing in education is something that I always believed was value for money. However, how much money can you invest?

As we grow older and we gain in experience, we build our own learning profile. As a teacher, I have seen students with high learning self-esteem, believing in themselves and succeeding easily in their academic goals. On the other hand, I have also seen students with really low learning self-esteem, always trying to hide their fear of not being good enough, their anxiety of not being able to belong in the group or their inability to maintain their concentration by making a great fuss in the classroom. A positive self-image is very important during the learning process in order to succeed in an educational goal. ” I can handle it, I am the master of it, I will succeed because I want to”. Decisiveness and willingness to learn is one of the key ingredients of success.

Personally, I have understood well that studying on my own is something that I should never underestimate. In my interesting search  for free courses on the web I discovered Coursera. After attending a very well-organised course, I have been driven to the conclusion that freelance translators have much to gain by enrolling in a Coursera class. But let me explain myself better.

I attended the “English Common Law: Structures and Principles” course offered by the University of London and instructed by Prof. Adam Gearey. It lasted for six weeks and the main highlights of the course were:

• Week One: Introduction to Sources of Law
• Week Two: The Hierarchy of the Courts and Common Law and Equity
• Week Three: Legislation and Parliamentary Sovereignty
• Week Four: Judicial Precedent and the role of Judges
• Week Five: Statutory Interpretation
• Week Six: European Union and Human Rights

My overall experience of the course was excellent. It stirred my curiosity to study and learn more about the differences in the Common Law and Civil Law legal systems. Throughout my experience as a legal translator, I often came across legal terms derived from the Civil Law legal tradition difficult to translate or adapt to the Common Law system and vice versa. When we have two completely different legal traditions, such translation problems are bound to emerge. Of course, I have not resolved all my translation problems, but I have been inspired to learn more. Besides, inspiration is a good start.

So, after completing the course, I was granted a verified certificate that I can brag about. My next Coursera courses sound really promising:

Understanding Media by Understanding Google

Introduction to Environmental Law and Policy

Developing Ideas for New Companies: The first step in entrepreneurship

Law and the Entrepreneur

Have I whetted your appetite for more? Who wants to be my classmate?