First Semester at MIIS

Wow, this is the first time in two years that I’ve gone more than a month without a post! I am pretty low-key about blogging, but I aim to write at least once a month. I’ve only missed one month since I started blogging two and a half years ago – make that two months now.

That should give you a good idea of just how busy school has been keeping me. Now that it’s officially school vacation, I’ll try to catch up a little. Some people expressed interest in hearing more about my program at MIIS, so I thought I’d explain what I’m studying and what the program is like so far.

What is MIIS?

So, for anyone who doesn’t know, MIIS is the Middlebury Institute of International Studies (formerly the Monterey Institute) which is well-known for its language programs and all things international. The school offers master’s degrees in many different areas like international education, environmental policy, and nonproliferation and terrorism studies, just to name a few, but I am part of the translation, interpretation, and localization management program (TILM), so that is what I’m going to talk about today.

My degree program is actually Translation and Localization Management (TLM), but I also managed to cram in interpretation courses just to try them out. The TILM program is well known for its degrees in Translation and Interpretation (TI), and Localization Management is relatively new.

What is Localization Management?

Everyone is like, what is localization? Essentially, it’s adapting something for a specific market; it includes translation, but also things like cultural adaptation, modifying certain things according to the local systems and culture, and the technical process to implement the resulting product. Localization management is, well, managing that whole process. So in addition to language courses, we also take courses focused on project management and technical skills relevant to the industry.

Translation vs. Interpretation

If you’re wondering what the difference is between translation and interpretation, it’s simple – translation is written, and interpretation is oral. There are two main types of interpretation: consecutive and simultaneous. In consecutive interpretation, you use your memory and your notes to relay what the person has said when they are done speaking, and with simultaneous, you have a headset so that you can interpret as the person is speaking. This TEDx talk, filmed at MIIS with professors and students from the Chinese and Spanish programs, demonstrates both very well if you’re curious.

Applying to MIIS

So, now that you know all that, the practical stuff. Applying to MIIS took forever because in addition to the regular admissions stuff (essay, transcripts, etc.) you have to pass the EDT, a test that evaluates your language skills. (This is only for TILM programs.) It took me an entire weekend to do the EDT; there are five written sections (translations and essays), and five oral sections.

I was thrilled to find out that TAPIF has a partnership with MIIS, which means that TAPIF alums qualify for a substantial scholarship.

MIIS has rolling admissions, so you can apply as long as there is still room in your program (all language programs except Spanish and Chinese cap out at around 12 students), but available scholarship funds decrease the longer you wait.


Now that I’m a student at MIIS, what are the classes like? I got a little crazy and took the full course load for the TI and TLM programs. There’s a little overlap, but not much, so it added up to quite a heavy course load. Next semester I plan to ease up a little. In addition to four courses in translation and interpretation, I also took Localization Project Management, Python, and Computer-Assisted Translation, plus I audited a course in Business Applications and took two career management courses because one just wasn’t enough. What I really like about the classes is that they are very hands-on; the whole point is to equip us with professional skills, so everything, including our exams, is very practical, rather than theory-based.

I’m busier than I have been in years (even more than when I was teaching!) but I love being a student again. I’m learning so much, and there are interesting people from all over the world at school. Time is flying by.

If you’re curious, MIIS has loads of info on their website and YouTube channel.

If you’re not, that’s cool too. More posts about other stuff soon!

9 thoughts on “First Semester at MIIS

  1. Thanks so much for sharing about your semester at MIIS! We recently had an info session here in Lyon for TAPIFers and your post is a great addition to that! Although I’m not applying this year, it really helps to get some insider opinions on the program! Hope it continues to go well 🙂

    1. Thank you! I also went to an info session with Christiane when I was a language assistant, and I decided the program wasn’t for me, but when I heard about the localization program a few years later I changed my mind. If you have any questions later on, feel free to let me know 🙂

  2. “What I really like about the classes is that they are very hands-on; the whole point is to equip us with professional skills, so everything, including our exams, is very practical, rather than theory-based.”

    And this is why my Masters program in France sucked. It was the opposite. And in theory, we were basically studying many of the same things. In reality, I learned nothing but to copy down what the teacher said which rarely had any practical application. I know, I know. You get what you pay for. So jealous of your studies! Thanks for sharing!

    1. That sounds so frustrating. I felt similarly about some of the classes I had to teach, actually – I tried to make them useful, and improving language skills is always a good thing, but there were a lot of required classes that just wouldn’t be relevant in the professional world. Some people say that it’s better just to get work experience, but getting the right experience isn’t easy either. I guess that’s more in the U.S. anyway, France seems to really value those theoretical M2s.

  3. So great that you’re in the MIIS! I’d expressed interest last year during my first year as an assistante and attended the orientation in Lyon. Although I left afterwards realizing that translation/interpretation wasn’t really my thing, nevertheless I admire you for going forth with it and taking it on! Good luck with the rest of your studies.

    1. Thank you! I also went to an info session in Lyon (a few years ago now) and I felt the same way – interesting, but not my thing. I didn’t even consider applying until I learned about the localization program (and of course now I also love my T&I classes, go figure!) Thanks so much for your kind comment – I will need luck to get through next semester for sure 🙂

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