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Volunteer translation work to gain more experience - suggestions needed
Thread poster: pleasetranslate

pleasetranslate
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:58
English to German
Aug 9, 2013

Hi

I would like to do volunteering translation to get more experience. I registered already with

www.translationsforprogress.org
www.onlinevolunteering.org/
greenpeace
The Rosetta foundation

but don't get any work. I mean it is senseless to register with all this organisations and they don't need a translator English to German.

Does anybody know a charity they are just looking for volunteer translator, English to German????

Thanks in advance


 

Mary Keramida  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:58
Member (2012)
English to Greek
+ ...
Some ideas Aug 9, 2013

Hi,
You could try Ted.com and watchingamerica.com
Check their sites and decide which one is ideal for you.


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 13:58
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
The problems as I see them Aug 9, 2013

pleasetranslate wrote:

Hi

I would like to do volunteering translation to get more experience. I registered already with

www.translationsforprogress.org
www.onlinevolunteering.org/
greenpeace
The Rosetta foundation

but don't get any work. I mean it is senseless to register with all this organisations and they don't need a translator English to German.

Does anybody know a charity they are just looking for volunteer translator, English to German????

Thanks in advance

Hello,

All I can go on is what I see in this posting and in your profile, so forgive me if I make false assumptions. The problem as I see it is that there are 95-100 million German native speakers in the world, and a sizeable minority (if not the majority) speak reasonable English, at least for comprehension purposes. I tried checking the number of EN>DE translators registered here on ProZ.com, but it just says "over 10,000". So, why should these organisations choose you?

There's nothing on your profile here, so maybe you do have experience, maybe not. Maybe you have something very special to offer them, I don't know. But I do know you have to be pro-active as a freelancer, whatever it is you want to do. I did see on one of those sites (the second, I think), that their advice is not to sit and wait for NGOs to contact you through the site, but to contact them.

I have experience as a volunteer for a couple of NGOs, a French microfinance organisation, and Translators Without Borders. I can say that neither give you any feedback, bar a "Thanks for your help". They (or their 'clients' in the case of TWB) aren't in the translation business and certainly aren't training establishments. In fact, they both ask for a minimum of two years' experience and they test all translators before using their services. They don't have the resources for proofreaders as well as translators; they need to be sure that their translators are proficient already, not inexperienced and liable to make costly and/or embarrassing mistakes.

For feedback, you would be far better off choosing another route. A mentorship, like the one that ProZ.com arranges, would be best. Or contact individuals or associations who have interesting websites/blogs/... and ask if they would be interested in a translation - they might be unable to give feedback themselves but their readers may be able to provide it. There are also some cloud translation platforms out there, which may or may not be a worthwhile experience for you. Others will edit your translations - all you have to do is work out whether they've edited for the better or for the worse.icon_wink.gif


 

Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 14:58
English to Polish
+ ...
Hi Aug 9, 2013

Hi!

Sorry for opening with an unorthodox parallel, but translation portals are like dating portals. There are millions of people to choose from, and people's brains are already overloaded by those options they already know some things about. They don't have spare focus to investigate the thousands of users who have pretty much not provided any information.

Whether you want to start taking normal paid jobs first or volunteer exclusively for the time being, you need to complete your profile by 1) providing all the required information and all information that's helpful to your visitors in choosing their translator, 2) making it stand out.

Imagine a dating website again. Some 20,000 Toms and Tims and Johns and Georges, all of whom have like 1 picture in a suit and 1 in something sporty, all of whom like footie and beer, a good chunk probably like biking, another large group wall climbing. A couple will be lawyers, another couple will be medical doctors, then some school teachers, accountants... How is a girl supposed to choose other than throwing a die? The same's true for a translation client (or outsoucer that looks for translators).

You don't need to spill your guts to become an undisputed prince charming for everybody (which is impossible, by the way), but you need to convey at least enough personality to appeal to someone who likes that type of personality, enough reliability to make the client think it's okay to work with you, and enough incentive actually to make the client write the mail. Or give you the reply you're waiting for when it's you who wrote first.

For starters, I suggest you head straight to the profile help forum section. The first thing you will find there is a couple of sticky threads detailing the (free!) resources you can use to get the most out of your profile. In plain language, they will tell you how to make a good profile that works. I especially recommend the meeting clients webinar. Then, you have the entire Guidance Center at your disposal.

If you dig deeper, you will find plenty of articles and videos to help you guide, streamline and jump-start your career. If you haven't yet, I also suggest that you look up Marta Stelmaszak's materials (especially this recent presentation and her CV-writing e-book).


 

Sarah McDowell  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 07:58
Russian to English
+ ...
Sent you a message Aug 9, 2013

Hello pleasetranslate,

I sent you a PM about this.

Sarah


 

Marie-Christine Nguyen  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 14:58
English to French
+ ...
Try locally Aug 10, 2013

Hi,

have you tried Translators without borders ?
http://translatorswithoutborders.org

I would suggest to start locally, go to see directly the associations that you know and want to support with a short CV. This is what I have done, I went to see a local branch of an association that rescue dogs and cats, they didn't have work for me at that time, but they spread the word around them and I have met other people/associations and I have translated for them a small brochure

[Edited at 2013-08-10 15:57 GMT]


 

Chahine Yalla  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 14:58
Member (2013)
English to French
My experience Aug 10, 2013

Hello,

I have translated as a volunteer for a few associations / websites. I think you can contact Mongabay.com which needed translations from English to French; they might be interested in your language pair as well. If you send me an MP I could give you my contact's email address. She was very nice and never put me under any pressure. You can also try Pressenza.

Pressenza is a "press agency" that is actually a political portal, expressing views on freedom.
Mongabay is a website dedicated to protecting wildlife.

[Modifié le 2013-08-10 21:13 GMT]


 

LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:58
Russian to English
+ ...
I think it is not that easy to get volunteer translation work -- Aug 11, 2013

it is sometimes much harder than to get paid work. Also many of the volunteer companies assumes that if you want to do work for free you are most likely not a very good translator, rather than just have some spare time in which you would like to do something good for the humanity -- some would even want to test you, which is quite appalling, but maybe they are right -- they probably get too many offers from people who cannot translate -- yet.

If you don't feel you can translate well yet in that particular language pair, you should train just translating things for yourself, not even for friends -- and perhaps get a mentor. If you are convinced you are capable of doing the job well -- the translate for money. You really need a lot of credentials and experience to do work on the voluntary basis. You can always do some work pro bono in a few years.

[Edited at 2013-08-11 10:21 GMT]


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 13:58
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
I'm amazed that you think that way Aug 11, 2013

LilianBNekipelo wrote:
many of the volunteer companies assumes that if you want to do work for free you are most likely not a very good translator, rather than just have some spare time in which you would like to do something good for the humanity -- some would even want to test you, which is quite appalling, but maybe they are right -- they probably get too many offers from people who cannot translate -- yet.

You really think that it's appalling that humanitarian organisations test their volunteer translators?

What appals me is that some, perhaps many, people think that quality is not so important for these 'free' translations (though I'm not implying that's the way you think Lilian). I evaluate new translators who apply to work pro bono for Translators Without Borders - over 150 of them so far - and about one third of them produce translations that are simply awful. A good number have no idea how to construct correct English sentences, and many haven't even bothered to spell-check their work, let alone proofread it. I only review non-technical translation samples, but I looked at a medical one just this morning that TWB sent to me in error. I could tell from my own English-native layperson's experience that it was way off the mark. I don't know if there was anything in there that could have cost lives, but it wouldn't surprise me, frankly.

With translation being a totally unregulated industry (in most countries, at least), I believe every translator who volunteers for pro bono work should be prepared to prove they can do a good job.


 

LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:58
Russian to English
+ ...
Maybe I used too strong a word. It is upsetting, to many very experienced Aug 11, 2013

translators, but I see the point. They probably mostly get applications from students, and people who are just learning. A short test is Ok, but some would rather see specific certifications, instead of giving the person their short test. (up to 250 words-- with pleasure, but I will not spend $500 on a specific test to work for them pro bono). I would rather donate the money to the food fund.

See, my point --I really believe translation on a voluntary basis has to be done by very experienced, qualified translators, not someone who is just learning. There is no such a thing as training on a real translation, whether free or for $0.02/word. It just cannot be done because it is dangerous. You should train on your own texts, form your favorite books and newspaper articles, songs, and get a mentor to help you with your progress. Some people have the absolutely wrong idea that if they charge $0.02/word, or nothing, they can produce any rubbish they please, because their work is cheap or free. It is not true. The translation for $0.02/word, or for free, should be exactly of the same quality as the translation for $0.20. It is just your good will to charge the client $0.02, although in most cases simply naivety.

Surgeons don't train on real patients -- they train on cadavers. (how horrible that may sound)



[Edited at 2013-08-11 11:51 GMT]


 

Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 14:58
English to Polish
+ ...
One more thing Aug 11, 2013

One more thing: In the light of the fact that the OP translates into German, why have no German avenues been mentioned yet?

Regarding the NGO's potential to choose and evaluate translators and provide feedback, they sometimes have simple translations and volunteers who are bilingual or proficient or otherwise viable specialists in their own fields without being actual or practicing translators. Thus, it's not absolutely necessary for them to stick to well-referenced translators for literally all sorts of jobs.

The way I see it, you'd work with doctors, lawyers and others who may be vaguely fluent or at least conversant in a foreign language but know the specialist jargon rather than the advanced rules of the general language. They wouldn't necessarily be great writers in it, eithers. On the other hand, when they have a text in a language that's foreign to them and they need to translate it into their own, they may struggle with all the reforging of sentences that's involved, again, in addition to perhaps not being professional writers. They can probably deliver vaguely non-horrible translations on their own if they spend a lot of time, but they just don't have the time, and they'd prefer a professional translator anyway. Which is where you come in.


 

Richard Foulkes (X)  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:58
German to English
+ ...
Kiva use volunteer translators Aug 12, 2013

Not sure about your language combination but maybe worth a look.

 

Diana Coada  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:58
Portuguese to English
+ ...
To all newcomers: Aug 13, 2013

Please stop begging for volunteer work. Just stop and think about it!! And check the financial situation of every single charity/NGO you decide to work for - many of them can afford to pay 5-6-figure salaries and spend lots on advertising but somehow expect translations to be done for free. Please also research what TWB is, who is running it and how detrimental some of those people have been to the translation profession.

 

Rudolf Frans Maulany  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 14:58
English to Indonesian
+ ...
Try UNV volunteer translator Jul 3, 2014

Why not try to apply as a UNV(United Nations Volunteer) volunteer translator. I have previously been a UNV volunteer translator. Please, find their address via website UNV their office address is in Bonn.

R_Maulany


 

564354352 (X)  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 14:58
Danish to English
+ ...
Puzzled Jul 4, 2014

I have just had a look at your profile and the website you link to, and you portray yourself as a professional translation agency that can handle all aspects of business communication in an impressive range of specialist subjects. You also state that you have 16 years' experience as a translator... And yet, there are several mistakes in the English part of both your website and your profile, and I think there is some chance that this may be why you don't get the positive responses you are looking for from potential clients, paying or non-paying.

As for volunteering, I agree with Sheila, that it is not a good way to perfect your skills as a translator. If you volunteer, you need to be able to provide a complete and ready-to-use translation. If (and I am just guessing now) you have been away from translation for a number of years and therefore need to get some practice because your translation skills have become a bit rusty, I would, like others here, recommend that you pick current texts off the Internet and have a go at translating them and then apply all your own critical skills to checking the result.



[Edited at 2014-07-04 07:17 GMT]


 


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