In our increasingly globalized world, the demand for translation services, regardless of the industry and language pair, is on the up. With the help of the internet and other modern technology, businesses can collaborate across borders. Translation plays a vital role in this process, making sure that language barriers need not be an obstacle in communication. And, while machine translation has made vast improvements over the last few years, the need for human translators is greater than ever.
As a freelance translator, this demand for high-quality translators should be music to your ears! But beware, the competition can be stiff as many people discover the benefits of the job. That’s why making sure you’re at the top of your translation game is essential for landing the best jobs and carving out a secure career. To that end, we’ve come up with some top tips for improving your skills as a translator.
1. Continue to work on your additional languages
The level of comprehension of the text you are asked to translate will determine the quality and reliability of the translation. Therefore, to be successful as a freelance translator maintaining a high level of proficiency in the source language/s is fundamental. To achieve this you need to regularly put in the time and effort to hone your skills.
Tips to improve source language/s skills:
- Taking a language course in the source language is not just for beginners. Having consistent contact with the language with a teacher who will pull you up on your mistakes is extremely valuable. It’s best to opt for one-on-one tutoring, such as the courses offered at Live Lingua as the tutor can tailor the classes to your needs.
- Surround yourself with the language as much as you can, especially in the written form. Read, write, and perform practice translations whenever you can.
- It’s best to spend time in the country where the language is spoken. However, if this is not possible in your case, find people to practice with as much as you can. If you can find fellow translators, all the better! For example, if you’re a French to English translator, strike up a relationship with an English to French translator. Sharing your practice translations with each other will be highly beneficial.
- Find language and writing style guides and put their tips into practice.
- Watch movies, listen to music, and enjoy any entertainment that includes the language – having fun while you learn is always more successful!
2. Polish up your native language skills
Most translators focus on their foreign language skills but, while this is important, your native language skills should not be neglected. Having exemplary writing skills is crucial in order to produce translations that are readable, as well as accurate. Skilled translators not only have an excellent knowledge of grammar, but they are proficient in different writing styles. They are able to assess the needs of the target reader and produce texts that satisfy these needs.
Tips to improve native language skills:
- Refer to language and writing style guides, and apply their tips to your writing. Be sure to update the sources regularly.
- Collaborate with people in the field, content writers, editors, and other translators to can exchange knowledge. Having people who can give you honest feedback on your work is invaluable. Just make sure you are open to this constructive feedback!
- Read! Good writers are good readers. Reading in any capacity is helpful but try to dedicate some time to reading texts in your field.
- If you don’t live in a country where your mother tongue is spoken it’s important to create opportunities to context to the language. Being aware of the evolution of the language is imperative to avoid producing texts which sound old-fashioned.
3. Specialize in a few subject areas
Focusing on one or two subject areas will help you become very successful in what you do. The saying “a jack of all trades is a master of none” rings true when it comes to translation. When you are proficient in the relevant topics you will spend less time researching terms and be able to complete your translations faster. This efficiency will have financial benefits. Specializing in a specific field also gives you the opportunity to foster stronger relationships with regular clients. Having loyal customers means you don’t have to worry about unstable work and cash flow.
Many translations choose to specialize in an area of expertise from their professional history. If this isn’t right for you, focus on a subject you find interesting and easy to understand. As you are gaining more and more experience in a certain field you will be able to speak directly to the client discussing the subject. With time you can promote yourself and will be promoted by satisfied clients as a valuable expert.
Tips to improve skills is your specialization:
- Once you’ve chosen your subject area try to be consistent. The more experience you get in one field, the more you will be seen as an expert and your employment opportunities will improve.
- Make a plan about how you’re going to learn more about your area of specialization. Will you read relevant texts, consult experts, or take courses? All of these options are valuable!
- Once you are proficient in the subject do not forget to follow the latest developments in the field and of course, update the language terminology in your native and source language/s. Read the latest publications and consider attending industry events, which are also a great place to network.
If you follow these simple steps, you’ll put yourself in a strong position to pick up translation work and gain a good reputation. Remember, being a professional translator takes work, but it’s worth it in the end.
At BeTranslated our talented translators specialize in subject areas such as business translation and IT translation. Our linguists are highly-qualified and only translate into their native language. If you are searching for a professional translation service that you can rely on, look no further. For more information or a free, no-obligation quote, get in touch today.