Like most occupations, being a translator is a process of continuous learning. You can never know everything about a language and there will always be words and cultural nuances you encounter that you’ve not seen before. As a general rule of thumb, the more professional experience you have, the better translator you’re likely to be, but even the most experienced translators still have to put the work in to improve their translation skills.
So, what can you do to become the best translator you can be? Here are five simple tips to give your translation skills a boost.
1. Never stop reading
Many of the world’s most celebrated authors put their success as writers down to their insatiable appetite for reading. Miguel de Cervantes, author of Don Quixote, and William Shakespeare, author of… we’ll let you fill in the gaps there… famously read everything within reach. As language specialists, translators should do the same.
Reading as much of your foreign and native language as possible is a simple but effective way to keep your translations current, contextual and accurate. Reading local newspapers, books and journals in your specialist field will allow you to absorb the jargon, trends and events within your chosen language and your field of study. Reading articles translated by your peers and esteemed translators in your field is also a great way to pick up some tricks of the trade.
2. Write your own words
Translators write day in and day out professionally, but many don’t spend time writing anything original. Doing some writing of your own and committing it to paper is an excellent way to practice picking your words and formulating cogent phrases. Once you’ve finished, critically evaluating your writing and editing it where necessary will help to improve your writing and translation skills.
3. Maintain your source language proficiency
Immersing yourself in your target language is a sure way to improve your translation skills, but not if you start to lose your native language as a result. People tend to assume it’s impossible to lose your native language, but like any skill, if you don’t practice it regularly, it will deteriorate over time.
As anyone who has lived abroad for a prolonged period of time will know, the more immersed you are in another language, the more foreign your own language starts to feel. Reading in your native language, listening to podcasts, speaking to friends and family on the telephone and travelling back to your home country regularly will all give your skills a boost.
Here’s an excellent podcast on this subject.
4. Fine-tune your specialist knowledge
At Linguistica International, all of our translators have professional experience in the fields in which they translate. But that alone is not enough to keep them up to date with the latest trends and terminology in their areas of specialisation. Reading industry news and journals and attending conferences all help to build their expertise in those fields and maintain their position as an authority within their chosen subject areas.
5. Translate the other way around
If you usually translate your native language into your secondary language, try doing it the other way around. Doing so will not only improve your knowledge of the relationship between the two languages, but it could also pave the way for you to perform two-way translations professionally, which will further expand the range of projects that are available to you.
Are you a talented translator?
We’d love to hear from you. At Linguistica International, we translate into more than 200 languages and provide translation services for some of the leading brands in the UK. If you’re looking for professional translation work, just give us a call on 02392 987 765 or send your CV to firstname.lastname@example.org.