Posted by shahzad-bashir on June 11, 2021

18 Tips on How to Improve Your Translation Skills

18 Tips on How to Improve Your Translation Skills

There is a famous saying that goes “Practice makes perfect”. Nothing can be further from the truth when one talks about sharpening and improving a person’s skills. Practice, indeed, makes a person perfect in whatever activity they want to explore — be it painting, writing, or even translating.

When it comes to translation, one cannot deny that it is a dynamic and careful activity, requiring acute precision and clarity of mind. This is because a translator is tasked with the responsibility of providing professional, accurate, and precise translations of projects and content. This is the reason why they should possess some skills that would ensure that the translations they are doing are up-to-the-mark.

18 Tips on Improving Your Translation Skills

If you want to build your career as a successful professional translator, here are some useful tips to improve your translation skills. Using these guidelines, you can significantly improve your skills as a translator. 

1. Read, Read, Read!

Perhaps one of the most important, but often overlooked, a skill that professional linguists or translators must possess is the skill of reading. Reading is a way to ensure your translations are not only current but contextual and meaningful as well. Read as many journals, publications, and news in other languages as you can, along with reading translated articles by your peers.

2. Keep Up the Conversation

Another great way to improve those translation skills is to communicate and keep up the dialogue with fellow translators and native speakers of the target languages. Since native speakers have a clear idea of the language nuances, conversing with them would help you in your translation projects.

3. Perform Translation Exercises

Just like conversing with native speakers, practicing is a great way to make sure your translation skills get sharper. Practice makes perfect, so get down to flexing those translation muscles. Open a video of any lecture or speech in the target language on YouTube, slow it down, and translate on the go. If you want to get better at written translation, grab a newspaper and translate articles. You can also do the same exercise with any fictional piece in the target language you specialize in.

4. Improve Your Specialist Knowledge

When you are a translator, it is always a good idea to become a specialist in some area of industry, such as legal, medical, or marketing. This would improve your credentials for clients when they want to get some work translated within these fields. To further enhance your specialization, you can obtain a degree or certification within that domain. Doing so will make you a professional in that particular industry translation.

5. Translate Back and Forth

If you have been translating from one language to another, for example from English to French, you might be skilled at it. Attempt to translate the other way around, from French to English. This will not only improve your knowledge of the two languages, but it will also make you skilled enough to get translation projects in these languages.

6. Compare Other Translations

It is always a good idea to compare what other translators are doing with your work. This is not cheating — it is simply an observation of how well you are doing at translation. Take both the source and target texts in order to compare how translations have been handled. Closely analyze the selection of words and sentence structures and observe how the translators have omitted or added particular words or phrases when translating.

7. Vacation Away!

Traveling to other locations and cities is a great way to understand the cultural differences of their people. Take a trip to other countries to know its people better and to acquaint yourself with the culture and language that they use. When you travel, you will be in a better position to know the linguistic differences. Moreover, traveling is a whole new experience, where you get a chance to explore other cultures and lifestyles. This experience will, ultimately, aid you in your translation skills.

8. Visit Industry Events

Every year, many conferences and industry events are organized in different locations. Attending these events is a great opportunity to interact with new customers willing to get their projects translated. These events will give you a chance to learn about the latest translation trends, new tools, and marketing techniques for getting new clients. Furthermore, these events are an excellent way to get more skilled at your job by allowing you to step outside your comfort zone and old learning patterns.

9. Stay in the Loop about the Latest Technology

The translation landscape is continuously evolving and changing, thanks to the new technology that makes headlines every year. This is why it is important to stay updated on the latest technology related to the translation industry. If you fail to stay updated about this, chances are you will miss out on great opportunities in your field of translation. Read magazines, subscribe to newsletters, and follow translation experts on social platforms. Whether it is neural machine translations or the news of the latest product releases, staying in the loop would definitely help you to stay ahead in your job.

10. Read Your Work Out Loud

Although feedback from a professional translator and editor is the ideal scenario, you can still improve your translation skills by reading your work out loud. Self-proof and analyze your translations critically, as it is quite easy to overlook one’s mistakes. Reading out loud will ensure that your work omits any errors that might occur in speech. For example, if you go through a word that is difficult to pronounce, it is probably because you have used a difficult word. Try to use substitute words and phrases where you feel they are not sitting right in your translations.

11. Lend an Ear to Your Clients

Listening is surely the best exercise, especially when it comes to translation. If you are among those translators wishing to build a reputation in your area of expertise, you will have to listen to what your clients have to say. Listening skills will enable you to understand what your clients are expecting from you as well as the level of work that they are anticipating.

12. Build a Translation Memory

Gone are the days when translators used dictionaries to translate from one language to another. As the digital world evolves, so does translation technology. This technology has enabled translators to store and review their work in a translation memory for future reference. Take care to store your translation work on the go as it would save you valuable time and resources in the long run.

13. Accept and Adapt to Change

Change is a constant aspect every individual faces, regardless of the field he/she may belong to. Accept that translation is also similar to other fields and is changing every day. Adapt yourself to this change as it happens as that would not only keep you on track, it would also motivate you in the right direction.

14. Interact with New People

As you work on your job, you might notice new faces and people in your office. Take some time out to interact and bond with these people. Human interaction increases the likelihood of success both at work and in life. This is why you should take some time out to learn and get to know new people. You might learn some new insights about translation and languages, who knows?

15. Use CAT Tools

As a translator, you should know that CAT tools are the ultimate tool to improve your translation speed and quality. By ensuring consistency, these Computer Assisted Tools make your translation task easier and quicker. A wide variety of CAT tools are available in the market, such as SDL Trados, Linguee, MemoQ, etc. You could choose which tool to work with. Remember, translation software and tools are in place to assist you in translation, not to replace your work.

16. Learn to Accept Feedback

Just like listening to clients is productive for the growth of your career, taking feedback from them holds equal importance. Accept that everyone has their own shortcomings and you might make mistakes as you go. Naturally, clients are going to point these mistakes out. Instead of getting disappointed, learn from your mistakes and take that feedback as a sign of growth and improvement.

17. Maintain a Unique Voice

When translating from one language to another, it is important to remember what your company or brand stands for. Your translations should reflect your unique voice and quality. Only then you will be able to give out a message of accuracy, transparency, and professionalism to clients.

18. Assess and Reassess

Last but not least; make a habit of assessing and reassessing your work after it has been submitted. You will notice that there are certain errors that might have been avoided. Sometimes you may have missed out on a word that you had not noticed. Make sure to note these shortcomings and errors so you can avoid them in the future.

Final Words

Translation and interpretation may be tough tasks to perform, but with a little bit of practice and patience, a translator can easily make a name for himself. You don’t need to look further if you are seeking a professional and accurate translation for your projects. We are here to help. Contact us now and begin your global journey!

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