Increasing job opportunity by learning a new language
Thread poster: golf264

golf264  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:44
English to Dutch
+ ...
Dec 1, 2015

At this moment I work in just one language pair. From English to my mother tongue.

I am considering learning and applying a third language (ie second combination) to my career. I understand that it can take years to learn a language, but I have already been busy with it for some years, and I am willing to complete the investment.

My question is, in how much would this investment increase my potential at landing assignments/jobs? Is the investment worth the effort? Will it pay off? Especially assuming that the combination in which you are working is a really tight market.

I would like to welcome all facts and opinions. Would prefer factsicon_wink.gif


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:44
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Some facts Dec 1, 2015

Some facts:

Learning a language is not "an investment" that will "pay off". Languages are not merchandise. They are the expression of the life, history, and culture of the peoples who speak them.

My opinion about your scenario:

So I don't think you can just learn a language as a way of making money. There has to be a deeper committment. You have to love and understand the country where your chosen language is spoken.

To master that language you must engage with life in that country by living there yourself, for a number of years as a resident (not briefly as a visiting tourist).

Only then should you think about offering your services as a translator from that language into your own mother tongue (i.e. not into that language).

This all sounds very ambitious and would not necessarily result in you getting more work as a translator.

[Edited at 2015-12-01 10:50 GMT]


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 00:44
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Diversify or specialise? Dec 1, 2015

golf264 wrote:
I am considering learning and applying a third language (ie second combination) to my career. I understand that it can take years to learn a language, but I have already been busy with it for some years, and I am willing to complete the investment.

The fact that you're asking about "learning a language" presumably means that you're still at quite a low level. If that's true, you'll still have a lot to learn, and as Tom says the best place to learn is in the country where it's spoken. But I know many Dutch native speakers can translate quite happily from German as it's a related language and many learn it from a very young age. When I lived in the Netherlands, every adult seemed capable of speaking German and English, though their written English was often far less than perfect.

My question is, in how much would this investment increase my potential at landing assignments/jobs? Is the investment worth the effort? Will it pay off? Especially assuming that the combination in which you are working is a really tight market.

Aren't they all "really tight"? There are very many translators in your pair, but there's also a lot of work to be had. You just need to get your share of the quality jobs. Diversification is fine if you take it down other channels: proofreading, copy writing, teaching... They are all good ways to supplement your income from translation. Diversification within translation is not so good. The most important factor in being successful in a common pair is specialisation, not diversification. There's a very high risk of putting out a message that you're a "Jack of all trades; master of none", especially when you have as many across-the-board "specialisations" as you show on your profile.


 

Dylan Jan Hartmann  Identity Verified
Australia
Member (2014)
Thai to English
+ ...

MODERATOR
Cost vs benefit Dec 1, 2015

Tom in London wrote:


Languages are not merchandise. They are the expression of the life, history, and culture of the peoples who speak them.

There has to be a deeper committment [when learning a language]. You have to love and understand the country where your chosen language is spoken.

To master that language you must engage with life in that country by living there yourself, for a number of years as a resident.




So many truths in this statement. I'd love to use it as part of my profile statement!icon_biggrin.gif

Golf264:

If you're conducting a cost/benefit analysis on learning a new language to get more work, I would suggest that you'd get much more value by investing your time/energy/money in marketing yourself or developing your expertise at the pair you're already working with.

Unless you're some sort of polyglot/savant/genious, learning languages up to our professional working level IS NOT EASY. I chuckle when I hear of people who've learnt basic Thai for a year, who've played around with google translate a bit and who then think they can become freelancers.

In summary, put more effort into marketing your current language pair and continue learning the third language if it so interests you. One day you might even be able to offer services in that pair!





[Edited at 2015-12-01 12:10 GMT]


 

Soonthon LUPKITARO(Ph.D.)  Identity Verified
Thailand
Local time: 06:44
Member (2004)
English to Thai
+ ...
Language = human heritage Dec 3, 2015

Tom in London wrote:

Learning a language is not "an investment" that will "pay off". Languages are not merchandise. They are the expression of the life, history, and culture of the peoples who speak them.



I love Tom's word.

Although I am paid due to my language capability, new languages are not easy to learn and master into a professional translator or interpreter. The older we are, the less likely we can learn new or deeper languages.

Now software e.g. MT is going to compensate for further demand in linguistic services. Although MT may not replace human completely, new technology like this enhance our professional services. At the same time, we are easier to learn new or intensive languages through it e.g. use of YouTube videos, Internet webpages, Search Engines.

On December 1, I was waiting in front of an institute to kill time before a critical appointment. I opened a book about Latin and read it loudly. Then I understood that human languages are significantly different from synthetic or digital languages.

Soonthon L.


 


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