Translation skills are always evolving, as no language remains the same over time. As a result, these skills are in demand, especially as more online businesses require globalized and localized content in a variety of different languages. For these reasons, more students are choosing translation of various languages as their field of study. Want to go from being just a translation student to being an expert in your chosen language(s)? Here are 5 easy and effective tips for translation students to excel in this career.
1. Read extensively
It is extremely important for translation students to have a comprehensive knowledge of both the source text and the target languages. Hence, it is recommended that you read materials written in the target languages extensively to familiarize yourself with the vocabulary and phrases. Diversify the genre of the materials you read. For instance, you can read literature, magazines, articles, and journals in the languages you wish to learn. You will then understand the cultural aspects of that language. When you start translating your text, you must read it thoroughly too. Do not translate any text if you have not read the content. If you do so, you might end up translating the words instead of their meaning in context. However, it shouldn’t always be about making progress. Read for your pleasure and enjoy the experience. According to Alex Rawlings, reading as a hobby exposes you to vocabulary that you otherwise wouldn’t have learned. It also simplifies complex grammatical structures.
2. Get to know the relevant terminology
As it is in many industries, translation also uses particular terms and phrases that evolve over time. Examples of such words include CAT, A- Language, B-Language, globalization, localization(L1ON), Source Language (SL), and Target Language (TL). To new translation students, these terms might not be easy to understand at first. Familiarizing yourself with the sector-specific terminology will enable you to provide better translation services.
3. Speak your languages frequently
One of the best ways to learn a language is by using it in a dialogue. People always assume that translation is done in solitude. However, if you want to become a better translator after your studies, you should join in debates and groups that use the target language. You will learn where you are lacking and what you need to improve. The advantage of translation groups is that you have people to check your work and offer recommendations of areas that need improvement.
While conversing with native speakers, you will learn some colloquialisms and slang in the target language that you wouldn’t find in a dictionary. It will be easier for you to translate text that has such phrases more accurately, providing culturally sensitive, fluent translations.
4. Visit the country whose language you want to learn
Translation students who wish to become experts should learn not only how to read and write in the language, but also learn the cultures and styles of speaking of both the SL and TL. A short visit to a country with native speakers can go a long way in improving your skills. You will get to interact with the people of that country, for you to learn and understand the local culture and particularities of their language. If you can find a way to live with them for a while, even better! It will be an opportunity for you to meet new people, understand their lifestyles, what they care about, and how they became the people they are today.
5. Find an area to specialize in
It is indisputable that translators need to specialize in a particular field. Language is always evolving, and new information is added to it constantly. Another reason why specialization is essential when translating is because of the continued use of the internet. It has increased competition as more people are exposed to materials that help them learn how to translate. Also, more businesses require multilingual website translation for digital marketing and to reach as many people as possible. Translation students should definitely bear this in mind all the way through and upon graduation of their studies.
You shouldn’t offer services for any and every document sent to you. Specialize in one or more areas. For instance, you can offer specialist business document translation, legal translation, translation of IT-related texts, or financial translation services. By becoming a specialist, you will enjoy benefits such as;
- Increased knowledge
- Efficiency and better quality of work
- Higher income
Specializing in one subject is great. However, if you like diversity, then maybe specializing isn’t for you. Remember to maintain professionalism in your work. If you aren’t competent in a particular field, be straightforward and inform your client why you refuse the job they offer.
Global translation is an ever-evolving field. With the high demand for translators today, you have chosen the best career field for the future. Use the above tips to help you become an expert in it. However, even though you will learn a lot in the university classroom, you should also become a self-learner. Read articles and blogs from fellow translators to gain insight on what is new in the field. Gaining general knowledge on the subject will help you to recognize when you make mistakes. The best way to improve your translation skills is by always challenging yourself and translating as many documents as much as you can.
Looking for a translation course in the UK and Ireland? Check out our list of undergraduate translation degrees and masters!