How can I improve my skills?
Thread poster: Eddyms

Local time: 18:11
Nov 19, 2013

Hello, my name is Eddy and currently I am a high school student in the US (though my mother-tongue is Spanish) and I am already interested in becoming a translator in the future. However, I will major in psychology and unfortunately I don't have translating/proofreading/editing experience (I have translated things, but anything as complicated and elaborated as a real translation).

I'm looking for volunteering opportunities, but still, are there any resources such as books in which I could learn how to improve my translating skills? I read about that you could get a mentor here, but I am not sure if I could be able to apply for that, is it possible? If not, is there any place where people could help me to improve my translations? Sadly, at this moment I can't take any courses.

Thank you for everything.


ATIL KAYHAN  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:11
Member (2007)
Turkish to English
+ ...
Career Counselor Nov 21, 2013

Hi Eddy. I was thinking that you could go to the career counselor in your school, and tell him/her that you are interested in translating on the side. Have you taught of that at all?


Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:11
Member (2007)
+ ...
Welcome to! Nov 21, 2013

Hello Eddy,

Welcome to the world of professional translating. I would advise against getting too set on any particular career just at the moment as there are so many things you could do, your bilingualism being just one skill that may or may not be the one you eventually base your career on. But it's great that you're thinking of the future now, and avoiding burning bridges. Even if you never become a translator, your language skills will be bound to come in handy at some point. However, assuming you're going the translation route (and don't forget that interpreting suits some people's personality and skill-set better), what should you be doing?

Well the first obvious requirement for you is to polish your target language writing skills. Translators normally translate into their native language unless there are good reasons for translating into their second language. In-house translators generally do both directions but it's a compromise solution. That means you will need very good writing skills in Spanish, not something every native Spanish speaker has, I bet. If you're living in an English-speaking environment, you'll need to make sure you keep your Spanish fully up-to-date and that means reading extensively in Spanish, and keeping abreast of things in Spain, Mexico or wherever your target audience is based.

Next, in your pair you are one tiny fish in a massive ocean, so you're going to have to find some way to get your head above the rest, particularly nowadays when so many "hobby" translators out there speak both languages (more or less). So, you'll need to specialise. On the face of it, psychology seems the most likely specialisation, but maybe you have other areas of interest. Just be aware that the better-paid translators are rarely those who tackle any and every translation, unless they work in a rare pair. Specialisation will mean studying your subject(s) in depth, in class or on your own, in both languages.

Then, before you start work as a translator, you will really need to study translation techniques. Companies need their translations to be perfect - as good as (or better than) the equivalent text in the source language. Those texts will include proper names, acronyms and jargon, along with things that are quite simply untranslatable, and they'll all need to be handled correctly, in a suitable and consistent register.

So, keep up the studies and read, read, read - in both languages. By all means do volunteer translations. I would suggest Wiki texts and TED videos, as you will have the possibility of feedback. NGOs really need experienced translators who they can trust to work without supervision. Mentoring is a great way to go, but it implies full-time commitment, being able to accept the very tight deadlines that are normal in this industry. That should be left for when the full-time studies are over.

Meanwhile, why not contribute to KudoZ here on, as well as reading all the mountain of information and advice on the site? Helping others with tricky terminology can be both useful and fun.


Local time: 18:11
Thank you for your answers! Nov 23, 2013

Thank you for your answer Sheila! You've been really helpful with your response.

I'm trying to polish my target language writing skills, I study in a bilingual high school so I always get to practice both languages every day. I am always trying to read about everything in both languages, and that way I would improve my overall knowledge and expand my vocabulary. I'm aware that I need to have an specialization, and the ones that caught my attention were the medical and science field.

Now, I'm wondering where and how can I study translation techniques? Is there any book that could help me with that? I know about books that tell you about translation in general, but I haven't found yet any book that would teach me the required techniques. Also, although probably it'd difficult to have a mentor, how could I find one?

I've reading a lot about this world and so far I like it a lot, I think this kind of job suits me perfectly and I want to give it an opportunity!

Again, thank you answering Sheila!


I already talked to my counselor, but she couldn't help me. She could tell me as which universities I could apply to study in college, but not about how to start in the translation world.


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:

You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

How can I improve my skills?

Advanced search

CafeTran Espresso
You've never met a CAT tool this clever!

Translate faster & easier, using a sophisticated CAT tool built by a translator / developer. Accept jobs from clients who use SDL Trados, MemoQ, Wordfast & major CAT tools. Download and start using CafeTran Espresso -- for free

More info »
Déjà Vu X3
Try it, Love it

Find out why Déjà Vu is today the most flexible, customizable and user-friendly tool on the market. See the brand new features in action: *Completely redesigned user interface *Live Preview *Inline spell checking *Inline

More info »

  • All of
  • Term search
  • Jobs
  • Forums
  • Multiple search