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5 Ways to Improve Your Translation Skills

5 Ways to Improve Your Translation Skills

Translation is a fluid, meticulous business that is consistently evolving, since no language is ever stagnant. Every tongue changes and grows to remain relevant as the world develops. Every translator must therefore grow and develop alongside, so as to remain adept at their craft.

Here are some useful tips for freelancers and professional translators to improve their translation skills.

Here are some useful tips for freelancers and professional translators to improve their translation skills.

5 Ways to Improve Your Translation Skills
5 Ways to Improve Your Translation Skills

1. Read!

One of the most important ways to ensure that your translations are current, contextual and meaningful is to read as much of the foreign language as possible. A dictionary is your bible and your best friend. Carry one with you as often as possible and read it in your spare time to continuously grow your vocabulary. Secondly, read as many local newspapers, journals, books and publications as you can, to absorb trends, events, cultural nuances and jargon used within the language and the field of study – if there is one. Finally, take the time to read as many translated articles as you can by your peers and seniors to pick up tips and tricks of the trade.

2. Converse

Try to have as many conversations as you can with native speakers of the language in question. There’s no better way to learn a language than by constantly speaking it in dialogue with experts in the language or those born to it. It’s also an excellent way to pick up on nuances like colloquialisms and slang in your target language.

3. Hone Your Specialist Knowledge

Over time, translators often commit themselves to a specialization, a particular field of study wherein to build their career and repute. It’s a smart practice to do so, since it improves their credentials for clients or LSPs (Language Service Providers) looking for freelancers or professionals to translate material within that field. What you can do to further build your resume is to pursue a degree or certification within that domain, allowing you to come across as an authority within that subject.

4. Translate Vice-versa

If you’re used to and comfortable with translating from say English to another language, attempt to do it the other way around. Not only will this improve your knowledge of the relationship between the two languages, you might also discover a hitherto unknown skill in being able to do two-way translations between the language-pair – expanding the range of projects available to you.

5. Use CAT Tools

As a translator, it’s essential you familiarize yourself with CAT or Computer Assisted Translation Tools. These are computer programs which allow you to improve your translation speed and quality. They also help ensure consistency prevails across the board. Instances of skipped lines or words are avoided; repetitive phrases or word-collectives are given standardized translations; and in the event multiple translators are working on a project, the tools ensure they’re all working off of a standard vocabulary-set. There is a wide availability of CAT tools in the market, including Linguee, SDL Trados, Fluency Now, MemoQ, etc. Factors like the price-level you’re comfortable with, client requirements and file formats you’re working with will have a bearing on your eventual choice. It’s important that translators out there not be wary of using translation software and look at it as a means to assist in and improve their work.

Finally, for any aspiring translators out there, the best way to substantively improve your skill is to write and to translate as often as you can. It needn’t be on a paid project, but simply as an exercise to continuously build on their abilities and deliver optimally every time a project does come by. For those interested in further reading, sites like an excellent resource for information on and developments within the industry.

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