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Foundations of Translation©

CIOL Certificate in Translation (CertTrans) online preparatory course

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Course Overview

Foundations of Translation (FOT)© is the online course designed to prepare candidates for the CIOL CertTrans. It is aimed at:

  • language graduates that want to become translators
  • language professionals (teachers, interpreters) that wish to switch to translation or combine both professions for an extra income stream.

The course is delivered at undergraduate, or degree level (BA/BSc), and students are expected to have a high command of their foreign language, between C1-C2 level (CEFR), as well as an excellent command of their native language.

The course is delivered over 10 months. This will allow for ample time for consultations and exam revision to guarantee a successful exam result.

The course consists of 6 core modules, detailed in the table below. Students should expect a significant update for the 2022 version of the course.

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Module 1: Introduction

  • Welcome to the course
  • Suggested Reading


Module 2: Translation Theory

  • What translation is
  • What translation theory is about
  • Language functions, text-categories, and text-types
  • Speech act theory
  • Implicatures and presuppositions


Module 3: Translation Methods and Techniques

  • Translation methods: word-for-word, literal, faithful, adaptation, etc.
  • Translation techniques: borrowing, calque, naturalisation, etc.


Module 4: Translation Problems and Strategic Solutions

  • Levels of translation
  • Translation of lexis
  • Improvement of a text
  • How to build a glossary/ terminological database


Module 5: The CertTrans

  • Exam overview
  • The exam marking criteria


Module 6: Translation Practice

  • Translation of a General Text (U1)
  • Business and Commercial Translation Skills (U2)
  • Government and Public Service Translation Skills (U3)

Available languages

Foundations of Translation© is taught in English. It prepares candidates for the CertTrans in five language combinations with English as the source or the target language: Spanish, French, German, Arabic (MSA) and Chinese. 

As a professional course, NO foreign language is taught. The student is expected to have acquired the language at Mastery Level, that is, at C1-C2 level from the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR).

English language courses


Spanish courses


French language courses


German language






What our students say

Foundations of Translation was the prep course for the Diploma in Translation, before the CertTrans. Read about our students' experience:

  • Anna Milic
    MLH has met my expectations in that I felt supervised and held for the entire duration of the programme, during the earlier theory part as well as during the latter practice part. I liked that the course provided for 9 months of preparation and that it was well paced. I have liked the personal connection to the programme tutor Carina as well as within the study group of other students. The small group allowed for both personal connection and thorough discussion of the course material. I have also particularly enjoyed working with my specific language tutor Katrin, she was an excellent choice. She brought the programme alive for me with her deep expertise and skills, bottomless encouragement, hands on approach and going the extra mile to give me detailed feedback, suggestions and even checking and commenting on my final versions. She was always prompt and made time for me.
    Anna Milic, EN-DE
  • Mihaela Stanciu
    MLH definitely met my expectations. The course was very well organised from theoretical part which explained the theories and rules of translation to the practical one, which applied all the theories. There was also a tutor for each target language. Through its Zoom meetings, the course created trust and strong bonds between the tutor and us, making it possible to clarify details and share translation experiences. Before the course I had a vague idea about the possibilities provided by this Diploma and the actual work as a translator. MHL helped me by opening access to a rich world of information and materials about translation techniques, about approaching different texts based on my own expertise, motivating me to learn and discover more. Through its course structure, MLH brought together a group of people so diverse from all points of view: nationality, language, culture, passions. I personally enjoyed to the maximum our Zoom meetings which created every single time inter/multi-cultural exchanges and unexpected learning situations.
    Mihaela Stanciu, EN-RO
  • Begona Rueda, student of FOT21
    I was looking for translation tuition and mentorship in order to prepare for the CIOL Diploma in Translation. With no professional background in translation and having not taken any type of translation classes or tuition in the past, I was hesitant about having the right skills to prepare for this exam and ability to follow the course. MLH has met my expectations by guiding me on what is expected from candidates to the Diploma in Translation and also on how to prepare for this exam. It was very helpful to learn the theories surrounding translation in order to have some context given that I had no previous experience in the field except a good command of both languages. It was also encouraging to work with a group of students of different experience and skill in translation and still feel encouraged to participate and to bring in my ideas when discussing the challenges of translation. I really liked the group of students and having them sharing different life and professional experiences with language. Also, once the student starts one-to-one sessions with their personal tutor, they arrange the tuition sessions, which makes it a very flexible learning experience. I like the personal approach of the school.  I would recommend this course to a friend, especially if they do not have formal translation experience because FOT adapts to the student's level of expertise and individual needs while aiming for the DipTrans standards.  
    Begoña Rueda, EN-ES
  • Dania Daniel - student of foundations of translation
    Having worked as a freelance translator for some years, I decided to invest in advancing my career and planned to sit the Diploma in Translation. I was looking for tuition and guidance to help me prepare for this exam. I had tried self-study but was overwhelmed with the amount of material and textbooks available and I wasn't sure what I should focus on. I also lacked motivation and couldn't seem to progress. Foundations of Translation provided a structure to help me organise my time better. The material was comprehensive but divided into easily digestible units and, knowing that there was a feedback session after every unit, it gave me the motivation and accountability I needed to progress. I was extremely happy with my experience with MLH. I liked the particular focus on the exam, including a lesson on how to prepare a paper glossary (essential as no digital resources are allowed). I particularly enjoyed the open, encouraging atmosphere. From the very first practice session, we were encouraged to complete a translation under exam conditions which really helped me to develop the skills needed to perform well under pressure. The course also provided a good balance between theory and practice. The content covered enough theory to help me understand why I might want to translate something a certain way and be able to explain my choices. We also received detailed feedback on every practice paper, a total of 12, which is more than any other course is offering. I would recommend this course to anyone looking for high-quality, thorough tuition in translation theory and techniques.
    Dania Daniel, ES-EN
  • Rana Shabibi - student of Foundations of Translation 2020
    I had no experience of translation before starting the course and was very worried and nervous about my prospects of passing the DipTrans exam. However, because of all the support, positive feedback and encouragement I have received from Carina, I now feel more confident about it. Carina is very meticulous, methodical and organised and has worked extremely hard to provide us with clear, concise and informative materials. We have also had a lot of really good guidance on further reading, building comprehensive glossaries and even buying the best dictionaries for the exam. The way the course is designed and delivered is excellent and I would have no hesitation in recommending Carina as one of the best-placed people to deliver a course like this.
    Rana Shabibi, ES-EN
  • Jane Longley - student of Foundations of Translation 2020
    This is an interesting and enjoyable course, not only targeted at preparing for the Diploma in Translation, but also useful to learn more about what translation is all about, even if you are not taking the exam. Carina is a knowledgeable and demanding teacher who helps you reach your potential. Her personalised and accessible approach is excellent.
    Jane Longley, ES-EN

Frequently Asked Questions

The following are some of the frequently asked questions from previous candidates. If you cannot find your question here, please contact us!

1What is the CertTrans?
The CIOL Qualifications Level 6 Certificate in Translation (CertTrans) is a benchmark qualification for anyone wanting a career working for language services companies, as a freelance translator or to work for international organisations worldwide. It meets the need for a working-level translating qualification. CIOL Qualifications (CIOLQ) serves professional linguists, sets professional standards and provides qualifications for translators and interpreters which are recognised widely in the UK and around the world.
2What does Level 6 mean?
A Level 6 qualification in the UK is equivalent to undergraduate level (Bachelor's degree), i.e. BA or BSc. The CertTrans is the equivalent to the final exam of a Bachelor’s course in Translation.
3What are the benefits of doing the CertTrans?
The CertTrans is qualification regulated by Ofqual and others in the UK from an internationally recognised Awarding Organisation. It will improve your employability and career prospects. With it you will be entitled to use the post-nominals CertTrans after your name and apply to join the Chartered Institute of Linguists as a member.
4What is Ofqual?
Oqual stands for "Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation". This organisation regulates qualifications, examinations and assessments in England.
5Can I work as a translator without having the CertTrans?
You may be able to translate some documents provided you have fluent written language skills in English and fluent reading comprehension of at least one other language. However, the translation profession is highly competitive. This qualification has been developed with early career translation skills as its focus, with progression opportunities to higher levels of professional translation in mind for those wanting to work as a translator for translation companies or to build a career as a freelance translator. The CertTrans offers the opportunity to acquire a degree-level translation qualification that demonstrates the ability to work in languages, which will also assist those who want to use their written skills in international organisations worldwide.
6What is the exam like?
The CertTrans is composed of three units: Unit 01 - General Translation Skills, Unit 02 - Business and Commercial Translation Skills, and Unit 03 - Government and Public Service Translation Skills. You must take two units to achieve the qualification. Unit 01 is the mandatory core unit which must be selected, then you need to select one other mandatory option unit from either Unit 02 or Unit 03.
7How flexible is the course in terms of timings?
The idea is that you can follow the course online and in your own time. We also provide LIVE sessions every two weeks to discuss progress and answer questions on the content.
8Will I be allocated a tutor in my language pairs?
The theoretical content of the course is about applying the correct methods and techniques to solve specific translation problems, without focusing on any language pair. As soon as you enrol in the course you will choose a definite language pair, and a tutor in your chosen language pair will be assigned to assess your translated work.
9How will the course be delivered?
The entire course is available on our MLH Academy online platform. All live sessions are delivered via Zoom.
10How is the course assessed?
There are series of activities per topic module. All translation practice in Module 5 is assessed in line with the CertTrans Assessment Criteria. You will have individual face-to-face feedback with your allocated tutor.
11How can I pay for the course?
The financials of the course will be announced when the course is launched. Join the VIP list so that we can keep you up to date.
12What is included in the course?
The total price of the course includes: a virtual face-to-face interview before enrolling on the course, regular contact time with the tutor (virtual face-to-face), downloadable resources, pre-recorded video lessons, Certificate of course completion from My Language Hub - CIOL course provider, access to the entire online course FOR LIFE!!!

Enrolment process


Register to join our VIP list

Complete the form below. By registering, there is NO obligation to purchase the course. This allows us to contact you when enrolment opens.

Admissions consultation

Before enrolling in the course, there is FREE 30-min consultation to get to know each other better and understand how best to support you.

Enrol on the course!

After your 30-min consultation, you will have a much clearer picture of what the course has to offer. Make you sure you don't miss the enrolemt deadline!

Admissions open


Course starts: 26 September 2022








Our FOT team

Carina Balbo

Course director and tutor

English-Spanish and Spanish-English

Chartered Linguist and CIOL Fellow, Carina Balbo is a professional translator and a foreign language trainer with 25 years’ experience in industry. She is also a professional Assessment specialist working for the major national and international Exam Boards. An author, speaker, mentor and coach, as a Council Member of the Chartered Institute of Linguists (CIOL) and of the Association of Translation Companies (ATC), two of the leading translation organisations in the UK, Carina is involved in various projects to raise the standards of the profession.

Katrin Frahm

Course tutor


Chartered Linguist Katrin Frahm is an English to German translator specialising in technical, legal, veterinary documentation and diplomatic interpreting in the fields of education and government. Katrin is a Masterclass Tutor and SDL Trados trainer in the MSc Translation Studies programme at the University of Glasgow. She is also a fully qualified Member of the Chartered Institute of Linguists (CIOL) and the Institute of Translation and Interpreting (ITI).

Chris Humphries

Course tutor


Christopher Humphries is a translator and language teacher with 30 years of experience as a professional linguist. He has worked in the UK and abroad as a translator, editor, copywriter, tutor and examiner, and has published material on a variety of language-related subject matter. He is also a member of the Chartered Institute of Linguists.

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