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Frustrated and upset after failing a translation test....(They just told me I passed it)
Thread poster: Bo Smith
Bo Smith
English to Chinese
+ ...
Oct 28, 2004

Greetings to my dear fellow translators:

I know I shouldn’t. But I just can’t help feeling so rejected. I just wish I had done a search on this topic in the forums before I accepted the test. I am new here and still trying to get familiarized.

Any feedback and experiences would be highly appreciated. And what can I do to make the agent to give me an answer? Or they will probably just ignore me?

Thank you all so much! This is a great place to share all the highs and lows, ups and downs as a translator. I wish I have known here earlier.

Update: They just told me I passed it! That was a misunderstanding.

[Edited at 2004-11-26 20:00]


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Omar Osman
Belgium
Local time: 14:24
Member
English to Somali
+ ...
Beware of unethical companies Oct 28, 2004

Dear Sylvia,
When I first began in this business many years ago, I learnt very quickly (the hard way!) that test translations could be utilised as free translations for unethical companies. While I am sure that most company are not of this ilk, I usually
provide ‘test’ translations of no more than 300 words or less.
I believe this is enough in order for an experienced linguist (the assessor) to determine the quality of a translator. I also provide them with over 5 references. So far 95% of the companies have been satisfied with this. Actually 80% of my clients never requested a test translation, just needed the references.
I believe that all companies should send the result of the test back to the candidate with all the corrections (on track changes if it was done on Word). I also believe that Proz should go one step further by allowing candidates to inform other translators of these companies (in the event that they don't reply to emails or don't provide proof of a failed or pass). Also the candidates should ask before undertaking the job if he/she will receive a copy of the assessed translation back in order to “see” and “improve his/her abilities” .Can the Blue Board be used to bring this companies to the open?


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Mary Lalevee  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:24
French to English
Another view Oct 28, 2004

I often review tests of aspiring translators. I am not saying at all that this is the case for you, but unfortunately a lot of people think they can translate and believe me, they can't.

The agency I do this for always uses the same text for the test in my language combination and subject (F/E legal). It is not an attempt to get a free translation. I do not "correct" the translations sent in or I would not have time to do any of my own work! I don't think that it is my job - or the agency's job -to spend time training people in translation.

People send in test translations full of mistakes, sentences that make no sense, spelling mistakes in English, punctuation all wrong, etc etc etc.

The agency I do this for is looking for fully-trained translators. The test has to be 100% perfect or they don't take them on.

In all probability none of this applies to you, but I just wanted to put the other side of the story.

My advice would be to forget that agency and look elsewhere. Good translators are in short supply in every area, so I'm sure it won't take you long to get established.

Good luck!


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Pawel Bartoszewicz  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:24
English to Polish
+ ...
Ask for feedback and start from there Oct 28, 2004

I know how it feels when you get rejected without being given a reason (actually, it's not you, it's your translation that got rejected). Ask for feedback, see what they did not like about your translation and treat it as an opportunity to learn, not as a failure. I remember when I started, my first translation was literally massacred by the proofreader Now I'm grateful for it.

You say you are experienced in the field but you can always improve. Maybe it's your language skills they didn't find acceptable, maybe it's something else. Just ask.

If you dont' get any feedback, don't worry. Try another agency.


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xxx00000000
English to French
+ ...
Perhaps... Oct 28, 2004

Hi Sylvia --

You didn't mention the language pair. Was the translation from Chinese to English? If so, it might be that your English is not native, though it is very good. This has nothing to do with your knowledge of the proper terminology or your skill as a translator. And there's basically nothing you can do about it -- one cannot acquire a native language in adulthood. You could be a journalist, a novelist or even a poet in English, but not a native English-speaking translator.

There's no need for despair, all you have to do is focus on your English-Chinese pair and you will get the appreciation you deserve.

Best,
Esther


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11thmuse  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:24
English to Dutch
+ ...
This is some very solid advice! Oct 28, 2004

Esther Pfeffer wrote:

Hi Sylvia --

You didn't mention the language pair. Was the translation from Chinese to English? If so, it might be that your English is not native, though it is very good. This has nothing to do with your knowledge of the proper terminology or your skill as a translator. And there's basically nothing you can do about it -- one cannot acquire a native language in adulthood. You could be a journalist, a novelist or even a poet in English, but not a native English-speaking translator.

There's no need for despair, all you have to do is focus on your English-Chinese pair and you will get the appreciation you deserve.

Best,
Esther


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Omar Osman
Belgium
Local time: 14:24
Member
English to Somali
+ ...
Yes but... Oct 28, 2004

[quote]
The agency I do this for always uses the same text for the test in my language combination and subject (F/E legal). It is not an attempt to get a free translation. I do not "correct" the translations sent in or I would not have time to do any of my own work! I don't think that it is my job - or the agency's job -to spend time training people in translation.
quote]

I am the chief Somali assessor for 4 big companies and I get paid for each assessment/proofreading (even if it is the same text) each time. I give that translation the time I would give to any other proofreading job. It is not up to me to decide if the translator is good or not, I fill up the assessment form and send it to the client with a pass or fail. Sometime the translation is not 100% correct but I still can’t fail them, in fact I pass 80% of assessments. I put a note and let the client decide what to do, it is up to them depending on their need if they are willing to take that translator or not. I know that in my language pair is much easier because there are no many Somali translators around, so the few that try to do the job are mostly from an interpreting background.
I have come across assessors that rejected most translators’ work in order to avoid competition and remain the only one getting the job from the client.

When I am on the other end of the spectrum and doing a test for a new client, I never hurry, I finish the jobs I am paid for first. I never deliver in 24 hrs unless I am free and without work. At the end of the day it is all up to you. Just move on.
I dislike companies that don’t tell you what the problem is with your translation, it is not a question of training translators, just courtesy after someone spend an hour doing over 600 words.


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Derek Gill Franßen  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 14:24
German to English
+ ...
One denial and you're already in despair? Oct 28, 2004

Henk Jansen wrote:
This is some very solid advice!

Esther Pfeffer wrote:

Hi Sylvia --

You didn't mention the language pair. Was the translation from Chinese to English? If so, it might be that your English is not native, though it is very good. This has nothing to do with your knowledge of the proper terminology or your skill as a translator. And there's basically nothing you can do about it -- one cannot acquire a native language in adulthood. You could be a journalist, a novelist or even a poet in English, but not a native English-speaking translator.

There's no need for despair, all you have to do is focus on your English-Chinese pair and you will get the appreciation you deserve.

Best,
Esther


I can only second that (especially the last paragraph). I would like to add, that perseverance often pays off in the end - get back up on your feet and continue the race. Never give up!


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Rafaqat Dogar  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:24
Member (2004)
English to Urdu
+ ...
My Experience of Translation Test Oct 28, 2004

Dear Sylvia

Do not worry it happens sometime. Now I would like to share my experience regarding test translation. My language pair is English to Urdu. I applied for job with Ireland based company as freelance translator and they have their office in London too. I was invited for interview which I attended successfully. After the completion of the interview I was told that they are going to send me translation test and they sent me that test which was more than 1200 word. The test was comprising on three papers i.e.literature and medical subject. I was directed to complete the test within three working days. I completed the test with a lot of research and consultation with experience professionals regarding some specific medical terminology and sent the test back within stipulated period. I think after passing a month I was told by agency that I failed my test. I contacted to them regarding feedback but so far I have not received any answer from them. I was really disappointed and I am still not feeling good about that company but its life and you have to face such kind of problems. Personally I think being a professional body they should at least give some kind of feedback.


Kind Regards
Rafaqat Dogar



Sylvia Tseng wrote:

Greetings to my dear fellow translators:

I know I shouldn’t. But I just can’t help feeling so rejected...as I was really…”rejected”. I just wish I had done a search on this topic in the forums before I accepted the test. I am new here and still trying to get familiarized.
This test had 623 words in 3 full pages and I had to finish it within 24 hours. Now I know it was too long and unreasonable as a test after reading some discussions on this subject. I agreed to do the test because I thought it was the standard process to get assignments from agents. (That was kind of how I got my jobs with other agents.)

I can’t say I am already a seasoned translator but I have worked in technical translation for a few years. Having a degree in Computer Sciences and work in this area for many years, I can say that I am VERY familiar with this area in both English and my native language. I have done probably more than 100 projects in many computer or high-tech related topics.

So this test in computer hardware and software topic was really a piece of cake for me. Jokingly, I can do it with my eyes closed. I know all the terminology so well and I worked very hard for it. I did lots researches to make it perfect and I think it WAS perfect. I really know what I was translating and talking about.

This agent replied me simply with “your test result is unfortunately not allowing us to use your service as a freelance translator”. I was so shocked beyond belief. Though I do feel a little bit better after reading all the advice, feedback, and opinions here. But I still can’t help to feel a bit hurt.

I am going to write them back tomorrow asking them to give me the reasons and justifications why this test wasn’t acceptable. But you don’t think they will give me a satisfied answer, huh?

I just got my greencard lately and can finally work in the US legally without a working visa so I have been sending out resumes to lots agents. This agent was one of the two out of 50 who actually responded me. I was so excited and so confident. That’s why I am so frustrated now.

Any feedback and experiences would be highly appreciated. And what can I do to make the agent to give me an answer? Or they will probably just ignore me?

Thank you all so much! This is a great place to share all the highs and lows, ups and downs as a translator. I wish I have known here earlier.


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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 15:24
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
You own the copyright Oct 28, 2004

Silvia, if the text was not a routine text sample but an actual assignment disguised as a test translation, you should inform these people that your translation may not be published or used commercially. There seem to be many agencies that split up assignments into text translations and sell the result to their customers without paying the translators.
Always insist on getting paid at least a nominal fee.
Regards
Heinrich


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Aleksandr Okunev
Local time: 16:24
English to Russian
Seconded Oct 28, 2004

Mary Lalevée wrote: My advice would be to forget that agency and look elsewhere. Good translators are in short supply in every area, so I'm sure it won't take you long to get established. Good luck!


And you will have positive responses from agencies and no jobs from them coming in. Don't let it make you sad and move on.
Best of luck to you!
Aleksandr


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xxxtazdog
Spain
Local time: 14:24
Spanish to English
+ ...
incompetence? Oct 28, 2004

Don't rule out incompetence on the part of the agency, either.

I stopped doing generic translation tests some time ago, as I found it's usually a waste of time. In many cases, there was no acknowledgment of my efforts one way or another, despite my enquiries. Other agencies merely congratulated me on passing, providing no feedback whatsoever—and no work, either.

I can’t say that I’ve ever "failed" a test, but I vividly remember the only two instances where negative comments were provided on my test translations. In both cases, whoever had graded them had made several "corrections" that were anything but correct, mostly to technical terms (e.g., I had used "photoluminescent signage" and it was changed to "photoluminescent signaling"—whatever that’s supposed to be!). One (Spanish agency) had even taken points off when I used "truck" instead of "lorry" ("too American"), although there was no specification that British English was to be used (and the agency had my résumé clearly stating that I'm American).

I would definitely ask for specifics on what was wrong with your test (although they probably won't respond, which in my opinion would make them not worth working for anyway, as I agree with Omar that it’s only common courtesy to provide feedback on tests done for free). If they do respond, then you will be able to judge for yourself whether the corrections were legitimate, or whether the person who graded it was clueless (another good reason to wash your hands of the agency—just imagine a situation like that with a real job!).


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Bo Smith
English to Chinese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you Tayfun! Oct 28, 2004

Tayfun Torunoglu wrote:
Well, have you received any complaint or corrections for the projects you cited in your page? If you completed those project satisfactorily, it should be sufficent experience.


No, I have not received any complaint or corrections (proofread, yes) for those projects I have done. Instead, I have gotten many positive feedback from the clients through my agent. Some clients specifically asked for me when they submit a project.


If you like, Could you send me agency's name(via my profile page)in private and provide some details of event, (Project Manager) etc. to see the case and give you my opinion.


I will. Thanks!


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Adriana Caraccio Morgan, Dip Trans IOL  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 11:24
Member (2010)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Same here! Oct 28, 2004

Hi,

The same thing happened to me recently. The test was small, though, I got an extension in the deadline - I have to take care of my paid work first, right? - and it was in my area. The agency received my CV and they said they were "impressed" with it. I've been working as a translator for 6 years already, with many, many, many words already translated.

OK, I was feeling very confident.

Then, I got the "rejection", saying that my test was pretty good, but still not good enough for them to work with me... I wrote a message asking why, if they could send me a feedback, no answer so far.

Now, I'll state that I do take tests, PROVIDED a feedback is offered. If they don't offer a feedback, thank you very much - I'm not going to wast my time on them.

I don't know who corrected my test. And I can't accept why not giving a feedback - it sounds fishy to me. Once I worked for an agency that sent me back my work after being edited - some things were better, yes, but the proofreader also included some mistakes, and changed some things that were right before, etc.

We're all humans, and the proofreader can also make mistakes, of course.

So, that's my posture from now on: general tests only with feedback.

Best
Adriana


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Bo Smith
English to Chinese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
The language pair is English -> Chinese Oct 28, 2004

Esther Pfeffer wrote:

Hi Sylvia --

You didn't mention the language pair. Was the translation from Chinese to English? If so, it might be that your English is not native, though it is very good. This has nothing to do with your knowledge of the proper terminology or your skill as a translator. And there's basically nothing you can do about it -- one cannot acquire a native language in adulthood. You could be a journalist, a novelist or even a poet in English, but not a native English-speaking translator.

There's no need for despair, all you have to do is focus on your English-Chinese pair and you will get the appreciation you deserve.

Best,
Esther


Dear Esther,

I would not feel so bad if the test was translated from Chinese to English. I totally agree and understand what you said about one cannot acquire a native language in adulthood. I do English to Chinese projects most of the time but Chinese to English once for a while. When I do this, I would usually have my husband, who is a native speaker of English, to proofread/revise for me before I turn the project in. (Unfortunately, he didn't get paid more than a kiss.


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