A new academic year has started, and a new group of future translators has been born. Every student can get the best out of their course with some simple tips. So here are some tips for translation students.
I remember when I started my Master’s in translation. The first months I was struggling with terms such as Localization, Source-Text and Target-Text, Source-Oriented and Target Oriented, Source-Language and Target-Language and so on. Even worse, sometimes books refer to these concepts with the simple acronyms, ST and TT, SO text or TO, SL or TL.
It took me a while to understand and feel comfortable with all these terms. So today I’m writing this post to help newcomers who struggle as I struggled at the beginning.
Today I share my tips for translation students to help them get started:
1 – LEARN THE CORRECT TERMINOLOGY.
Have a look at my “Essential Glossary Of Translation” and download the PDF file if you need it. It will save you some time.
2 – GET FAMILIAR WITH THE MOST USED TRANSLATION TECHNIQUES.
If you haven’t started already, you will soon start learning some translation techniques. I listed a few on this blog, so you can have a look at them:
Translation Techniques 1: Loan Word, Verbalization, Nominalization Translation Techniques 2: Chunking Up, Chunking Down And Lateral Chunking Translation Techniques 3: Techniques For English-Italian Translation Translation Techniques 4: How to Translate Idioms
3 – START THINKING ABOUT YOUR SPECIALIZATION.
Whether you are studying an undergraduate course or a postgraduate, you will have to think very soon about whether to specialize or not, and in which field. This is a controversial subject, since many translators suggest you should be, at least at the beginning, a generic translator. I personally disagree, and I suggest you think quite early about which field to specialize in. You can find some pros and cons of specialization in these articles. You’ll also find some techniques to choose your specialization and interviews with translators specializing in different fields such as technical, legal and marketing:
Do You Really Need To Specialize To Succeed?
How To Choose Your Specialisation
Technical Translation (interview with Alessandro Stazi)
Legal Translation (interview with Tim Windhof)
Marketing, PR and Corporate Translation
Anthropological Translation (Interview with Lineimar Martin)
Interpreting (Interview with Lourdes de Rioja). This is the other big thing you need to decide about: do you want to be a translator, an interpreter or both?
4 – GET SOME WORK EXPERIENCE AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.
I suggest you to start to gain experience quite early. This is a sad truth, but all the employers will ask you for experience and none of them will give you the chance to get it, unless you agree to do unpaid work for months. This is not what I wish for you. So my suggestion is to start very quickly to get some experience in other ways. Some ideas are:
Offer to translate stuff for free for your friends
Translate TED videos (ok, this is subtitling, but it’s always translation)
Translate for organizations such as Global Voices, which accept volunteers (read the article about becoming a volunteer translator for Global Voices here)
Ask your university to give you some work. When I was a student I did, together with my class, a translation of a leaflet for a department of my university
Improve your writing skills. Learn how to improve your writing so that when you translate you’ll be able to produce better written texts
The online School for Freelance Translators
5 – START THINKING IF YOU WANT TO BECOME A FREELANCER.
This is a long and hard way, and you’ll have to leave your comfort zone more than once, learn a lot of new things and be very proactive. But if you do it right, it’s a lot of fun. Start taking some courses, reading some articles and books:
The online School For Freelance Translator, a school I created to help you get started
The Entrepreneurial Linguist
Interview with Irene Cudich – Argentinian freelance interpreter and translator
Interview with Laura Spencer – Social media and self marketing expert
Interview with Konstantina Drakou – Greek freelance translator
Interview with Catherine Christaki – How to found your own Translation Agency
How To Earn More As A Freelance Translator
Work With Direct Clients or Translation Companies?
6 – LEARN HOW TO WRITE A GREAT CV.
If you do not want to work as a freelancer, you have to learn how to write a translator CV, and what a project manager is looking for when recruiting a translator for a short collaboration or an in-house position. Take 10 minutes to listen to the interview to Alejandra Villanueva, a project manager who gives some tips about how to write an appealing CV.
The last tip I feel like sharing is to be a self-learner. University will teach you something, but you can learn much faster if in the meantime you read translation blogs, translators’ associations’ websites, if you talk with other professionals, participate in webinars, debates and discussion on LinkedIn and so on. Being a proactive self-learner is an attitude that can change your life, and make the adventure much more exciting.