No one is perfect, and even translators can sometimes make mistakes. While everybody understands a language professional taking their time to get the final translation just right, and typos will be fixed in the editing, there’s one mistake you can’t fix.
This mistake is not learning. If you want to consistently improve your translations and climb the career ladder, there’s nothing worse than spending all your free time doing nothing. You need to keep learning and getting better to stay relevant in the era of machine translations.
Read this article, and you’ll learn the 8 things that improve your performance as a translator.
Perform different types of tasks
Any skill requires specialization. When you’re first starting out as a translator, you should invest your time into one single skill to make yourself a worthy asset to whoever hires you. But after you develop that skill and get fairly good at it, you can get stuck.
What if this skill is great but it doesn’t pay much? What if there aren’t many jobs that require that skill? At some point, you need to build on that foundation and diversify. This is why you should take on different types of tasks.
Talk to your boss about being assigned different types of tasks, or consider getting a side gig. Make sure you don’t work all weekend, though, having a good rest is very important and being overworked can lead to mistakes.
Change media consumption habits
The media we consume daily has a greater effect on us than we’d care to admit. If you expand your reading, watching, and listening habits, you will help your translator’s skills grow.
Do you have a set of favorite YouTubers? Consider adding a few that speak your target language to the pool. Looking for one can be a fun challenge in and of its own. If you don’t find the person worthy of following, find people on YouTube who translate your favorite YouTubers to your target language and compare the two.
Are you hyped up about reading the book you’ve been hearing about for the last six months? Make it even more fun by getting two copies in different languages and comparing them. You can alternate chapters or compare paragraphs that look tough to translate.
If you want to hone your spoken translation skills, find podcasts in your target language and listen to them on your way to work. If you carpool, it’s an amazing opportunity because you can translate some of the best parts to your friends as you drive.
Volunteer and flex those translation muscles
Practice makes perfect. If you can’t get paid practice, you can do some work for free. This doesn’t mean you should volunteer for your boss, though. There are plenty of opportunities to make an important contribution while practicing skills vital for your value on the job market.
Let your local charities or NGOs know you’re a translator or consider working with larger charitable organizations online. You can even translate for fun at home to hone your skills, even if nobody sees the translations.
Travel for language immersion
Traveling abroad and talking to people who speak your target language is just about the best thing you can do to hone your translator skills. It would be even better if you traveled with your friends who don’t speak the language. You’d not only talk to the locals but interpret for your friends. If you speak a language such as Spanish, that is spoken in multiple countries, traveling to different places that speak the language will help expand your knowledge of the linguistic differences from country to country.
Do translation exercises
Not everyone has the time or money to travel just to get their training. If you don’t, you can still improve your skills by doing exercises. The idea behind translating exercises is imitating your real everyday tasks. If you’re trying to improve your interpreting skills, open a video of a lecture, a public speech, or even any YouTube video, put it on 0.75 speed, and translate on the go.
Do you need to get better at written translation? Grab a blog or a news article and translate it. It helps if you commit to sharing it with a community of translators, as you can give each other feedback. You can do the same with any piece of fiction if that’s what you specialize in.
Discover new topics
Every translator is as good as their vocabulary is. It’s vital as a language professional specialized in a specific area that your knowledge of terminology and jargon in your field is top-notch. To get new jobs and grow as a linguist, you need to discover new topics and expand your vocabulary. Read up on in-demand topics and stay up to date with changes in your sector.
Do you know how Michelangelo became an artist known and loved centuries after his death? He had the best teachers. If you find an experienced translator who’s willing to help you grow, it can benefit you more than any training exercise ever could.
The 5-hour rule
The possibilities of advancing in your career are endless. A translator can get into interpreting or subtitling, a pro writer can earn money by tutoring, a foreign language teacher can start working as a translator or writer.
The requirement? Spend at least 5 hours a week learning something new. We all have busy schedules at work, but investing just 5 hours a week for a better future is something most people can afford. Do that, and you will soon find yourself with a new skill set that may land you a better position at your current job or a career change.