Translating and teaching, your experience?
Thread poster: Christina Baier

Christina Baier  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:07
Member (2014)
French to German
+ ...
Sep 15, 2015

Dear colleagues

I am both translating and teaching languages and I have been thinking about the advantages and disadvantages of this combination.

- To do some teaching is a nice change, to leave my computer, go out and meet some people is
probably good for my health (but of course, teaching is not the only way to get this).
- I like teaching, like explaining things, like to get some direct feedback (you can see it on the
peoples face if they understand, yes or no).
- Having worked/ still working as a teacher can make me a good proofreader.

- Working as a teacher (and not translating full-time) makes me perhaps seem less professional
as a translator. I have been thinking about having two web-sites, one for translating and one for

- It’s not very time-effective. I teach for private customers and organisations, the lessons are
outspread over the week. Sometimes, I have to drive to town, find a parking-place, get the key,
be there 5 minutes in advance … for 1,5 hours of teaching. It feels like 1,5 hours of teaching
is “blocking” a whole morning. (That’s perhaps the same for translating and interpreting?)
Therefore I would like to increase the translating and decrease the teaching.

I am looking forward to read your experiences/ thoughts about translating and teaching!


Soonthon LUPKITARO(Ph.D.)  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:07
Member (2004)
English to Thai
+ ...
One of my friends Sep 15, 2015

Christina Baier wrote:

- To do some teaching is a nice change, to leave my computer, go out and meet some people is
probably good for my health (but of course, teaching is not the only way to get this).
- I like teaching, like explaining things, like to get some direct feedback (you can see it on the
peoples face if they understand, yes or no).
- Having worked/ still working as a teacher can make me a good proofreader.

One of my friends is very happy to teach people and translate materials. I observe that he is not much qualified for teaching e.g. never teach how to search linguistic materials through Internet, ignorance of translation theories.
This can be a special case. I am happy with translation but reluctant to teach people continuously. I am so shy and feel anxious if people criticize my teaching methods or speaking styles.

Soonthon L.icon_biggrin.gif


Angela Rimmer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:07
Member (2014)
German to English
+ ...
Find ways to be more productive? Sep 15, 2015

Christina Baier wrote:

- [Teaching is] not very time-effective. ... It feels like 1,5 hours of teaching
is “blocking” a whole morning. (That’s perhaps the same for translating and interpreting?)
Therefore I would like to increase the translating and decrease the teaching.

Perhaps if you really do enjoy teaching and don't wish to give it up completely, you really should look into ways to be more productive. For example, if teaching feels like it's blocking an entire morning, maybe a solution could be to take your laptop with you to town much earlier, set up in a cafe or something with wifi, and translate "in the field" while you wait for your class time. That way you are already near your class when it's time to start teaching but have not lost valuable time away from translating in the meantime.

That is just one suggestion. Other ways to be more productive might be to change the locations or times for teaching so they are not as "scattered" throughout the week.


Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:07
Member (2007)
+ ...
They can work very well together Sep 15, 2015

I did both for seven years. I'm not teaching at the moment as most teachers locally charge 7-10 euros per hour, and 20 is the most I've ever come across. It's only economic if you charge for ALL the time spent on a course: preparation, travelling, the course itself, reporting, marking... I used to charge a good bit more for an hour's class than for an hour's proofreading.

I did find some issues with clashes. Sometimes I wasn't able to take on urgent jobs due to teaching commitments. But that's no different from being a very busy translator. You don't need to give an exact reason - you're fully booked, that's all. The only real negative I found was being unable to respond to urgent emails or the phone while actually teaching (or driving). But nothing and nobody is perfect.

I agree that it's lovely to get out and great to see students progress. I'm hoping to do some more one day, maybe reviving my English CV workshop. With 35% unemployment on the island, 50% in the 18-25 age group, there's certainly a market.

Good luck to you as a trainer/translator.


Sarah Lewis-Morgan  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:07
Member (2014)
German to English
+ ...
I experience exactly the same problems Sep 15, 2015

Having been teaching for some time and trying to cut down on teaching to concentrate more on translations, I know exactly what you mean. I coach schoolchildren in English as well as having a few adult students. Each lesson means being away from my computer for the time of the lesson plus travelling time, which can add up to an hour, sometimes even more, over the lesson time. During which time I am not able to earn money.

This school year I swore I would cut the teaching down to the bare bones - keeping on a few current students, leaving the coaching school I worked in once a week and taking no more new students. I would limit my coaching to two afternoons/evenings a week plus one evening at the local college where I have a very enjoyable conversation class.

Despite offers of more money (to be fair, no offer would have been good enough) I left the coaching school. But when the mother of a student says she wants to learn English it is very difficult to say "no, I'll teach your daughter and not you". At least I can do two lessons without driving in the middle. I suspect I shall, as usual, be doing more teaching for a few weeks in the run-up to exams next spring, but I have been as ruthless as possible and stuck to my twice a week rule - if it means I have a couple of long evenings, it is preferable to having more disrupted days when translating has to be forgotten. I moved recently and now have a proper office with space to teach if necessary. Students coming here saves on travelling time, although not all can do so, especially children whose parents are not available to ferry them around at appropriate times.

I am still working on the lesson reduction idea, but until it can be properly implemented the only thing I can do to be more effective with translation is ensure ruthless time management.


Local time: 09:07
French to Greek
+ ...

Good morning,

I am doing both and I have realized also that teaching outside from home can makes you loosing time. Why are not thinking of teaching on line ??


José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:07
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Shared knowledge, different skills Sep 15, 2015

My wife is an ESL teacher; I am an EN-PT translator.

One "by-law" we uphold at home is: "I don't teach; she doesn't translate."

My very first job, which actually started as an internship while I was studying Mechanical Engineering, comprised two major assignments: technical translation and industrial photography.

While English was useful to read photo equipment manuals, plus the recipes for some 'magic' film processing chemicals, the essential knowledge for each activity was completely different.

At home, while the core body knowledge - viz. the language - is the same for teaching and translating, the differences become more evident.

In order to teach, my wife must know all the English grammar rules and their implementation. She also needs the skill to adjust her vocabulary and phrasal complexity to different student ages (in her case, ranging from 5 to 65 years) and proficiency levels.

In order to translate - and especially to interpret (without delay, thinking on my feet) - I have "internalized" all those rules, so that while I can't actually state any of them, their implementation is second nature to me. I usually follow the (level of) vocabulary and phrasal complexity adopted in the source text, unless requested otherwise.

Bottom line is that while I know the WHATs, she knows the WHYs-and-hence-WHATs.


Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:07
German to English
Been there, done that Sep 15, 2015

When I returned to the United States after living abroad for several years, the translation landscape in in a state of flux. Before I moved to Europe, translations were usually delivered by modem, fax, or hand-delivered on floppy disks; this was likewise true in Germany. In the intervening period, many of my old customers had folded up shop or consolidated, so I had to re-establish my customer base while the industry adapted to documents transmitted via e-mail.

In order to supplement my translating income, I took on jobs from language schools teaching German and English as a second language as well as providing resettlement consulting for companies that brought foreign staff and their families to train in the United States. It was a time-consuming, but for the most part, an enjoyable experience. Having been an expat with a family, I understood the problems faced by people in a new environment with respect to schooling, bureaucracies, etc. Teaching elementary German in an industrial setting also led to more translation work. It was also good to get out of the office and meet new people.

Eventually I gave up the relocation service, as it was too much like social work, and cut back on teaching English and elementary German, as it took up too much time and didn't pay as well as translating. I still maintain occasional contact with one customer, as the company is nearby, and the rate they pay for English instruction is comparable to what I make translating.

I recommend doing teaching as a means to avoid burn-out, but language teaching can be a frustrating experience, particularly when working with adult learners who have little concept of language. The pay usually isn't very good, another disincentive.


Vanda Nissen  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:07
Member (2008)
English to Russian
+ ...
My 5 cents Sep 15, 2015

Hi Christina,

Just a piece of advice. Yes, I think it would be better for you to have at least 2 CVs, one for translation and another one for teaching. In Australia, I am accredited as a secondary school teacher (based on my degrees obtained in Russia) and as an English-Russian translator (for that I sat an exam). I have two versions of my CV respectively - one with a stress on teaching (teaching degree, PhD, teaching experience at schools and Universities) and my second CV is all about translation. Of course, I do mention my teaching experience but only in the context of my working fields in order to show potential customers that I am qualified to translate documents on Education and Psychology.

Time management is another thing. I am a morning person, I do not like translate in the evenings so I am happy to devote 1-2 evenings to teaching. I like to meet people, and I must admit, I love to teach! Sometimes it feels like in "My fair lady":). I also teach online, it saves a lot of time. I used to do it more 8-10 years ago but unfortunately, Russian is not as popular as it used to be so I do not have many online lessons but again, I do nothing for marketing. Just a word of mouth (I am a good teacher:)).


Helena Chavarria  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:07
Member (2011)
Spanish to English
+ ...
In-company classes Sep 15, 2015

In 2008 I used to teach for about 30 hours a week and I translated in the evenings and holidays, and at the weekend. What had started as a sort of paid hobby ended up as a full time job, which meant I ended up working about 70 hours a weekicon_frown.gif

I used to hate it when I was contacted by clients but couldn't answer their emails until I had finished my classes or I had to accept assignments without being able to mention that I was teaching. I appreciated that my clients weren't interested in my other professional obligations and not many knew I was teaching.

I closed my school just over a year ago but I still do in-company classes, from 11.00 to 13.00, Monday to Friday.

It gives me the opportunity to practise my spoken English and the hourly rate is more or less what I earn translating. It's also nice to talk to educated adults whose level of English is getting better and bettericon_smile.gif

The company knows I translate and they often ask me to do EN-ES translations for them, which is actually quite good practice for me!

I have one website and it includes both activities. I also have one CV, which mentions my classes. None of my clients has ever made any comment.


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