Should I study translation...?
Thread poster: Chidori7
Chidori7
Colombia
Local time: 07:15
Spanish to English
+ ...
Dec 13, 2013

Hello,

I need help, I am High School Graduate living in Colombia (S.A) and I want to become a professional translator. As my profile says, I am a native speaker of both English and Spanish. "English???" you may wonder, yes it is because I was raised in the United States since I was 4 years old until I turned 16 and a half which was the age which I returned to Colombia. Right now I'm almost 20 years old and I've had no clue what I want to study in a University, and I've barely had any interest in continuing 5+ years of studies because I meet lots of people that graduate and don't find any jobs! So they have to resort to being a plumber, working in a pet shop, or even driving a taxi...

Okay so I know I have to decide what I want to do NOW, or I'm screwed. So I came across translating as a profession since I'm bilingual, and I have the possibility to work with people from around the world (did I mention the fact that I'm currently studying Japanese?). As for specialization, earlier this year I developed an interest for computer technology (ex: Hardware, etc) because I got into building my own Computer for graphic intense programs and gaming. So if I have to specialize into a specific subject area, it would be that.

But... The problem is that there are no courses or formal education for a career such as translation here in Colombia. There is a local University here that offers a career both in English and French and gives a B.A in it but I'm not interested in French and 99% of teachers here aren't even Native speakers of English, what can I learn? I'm not trying to pass off as arrogant, I know that a language can be further improved much more by a professional native teacher of that language such as English. I have heard that here in Colombia the English teachers here are mediocre and when Americans come and give constructive criticism, they don't take it nicely.

Or... can I train myself to be a translator and still acquire work and turn it into a profession? It seems some people say that one can learn through experience, others say that you NEED to go get a proper College/ University education and then get years of practice to finally get clients.

Please help, I don't want to waste anymore time as it is.

Thank you!

-For the record, I started a blog on tech catered towards gamers in Spanish speaking countries, I'm going to turn it into a English and Spanish info blog on reviews, etc.

Link : http://gamernewsespanol.wordpress.com/


Sebastian


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Flavio Granados  Identity Verified
Venezuela
Local time: 08:15
Member (2006)
English to Spanish
Wow, what a problem! Dec 13, 2013

Sebastian, ojala todos tuvieran "tu problema".

Mi recomendación:

1) Existen institutos en el mundo que imparten la carrera de traducción de manera semipresencial o a distancia, busca uno.

2) Ya que te gusta la informática, estudia una carrera afín a esta, u otra de tu elección, pero no te quedes solo con el conocimiento de traducción que adquirirás.

El "depósito de oportunidades" que genera las condiciones que mencionas es, para ser exagerado, infinito, aprovéchalo.

Saludos,

Flavio


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Jenae Spry  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:15
French to English
Consider study abroad or a mentor Dec 14, 2013

Sebastian,

Would leaving and going to school somewhere else be an option for you? I know in the states there are a few programs (I went to the Monterey Institute of International Studies) and I'm not sure what other SA countries might offer, but you might expand your horizons a bit if that is an option for you.

Another option would be to see if you can find a mentor in your language combination. The ATA (American Translators Association) and Proz both have mentorship programs. If you already have some translation skills, you might find a professional who can help guide you in the right direction. Ideally, you would want someone who is also in your desired specialization. Sometimes Mentors will outsource a job or two to a mentee and you would do it for free or at low cost and the Mentor would provide you with feedback in exchange.

Once your skills are up to par, you can take the ATA certification exam (or perhaps there is a professional exam in Columbia?) in order to provide potential clients with a validation of your abilities. In the meantime, you can always work on your writing skills in both languages because grammar, punctuation, wording, etc. are all crucial as a professional translator. Our job is not just getting the point across, but getting the point across in a highly accurate, well-worded and clear manner. Your blog gives you a great opportunity to showcase your abilities and/or receive feedback from those that are qualified to provide it.

Just be sure you consider all your options and your goals before you shell out money and time for school. Getting a degree just to get the piece of paper can backfire, and like I said, once your skills are up to par, you can take that exam as proof that you are a qualified translator. As you have clearly seen with your friends, a degree does not necessarily guarantee a job and to succeed in this industry, you largely have to be prepared to run your own business. A paycheck is not a reality for most of us as in-house jobs have dwindled to nearly non-existent. Running your own business is a VERY rewarding and fun process, but is also a lot of work.

I hope that helps.


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LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:15
Russian to English
+ ...
You have to ask yourself the quetsion if you love translating. Dec 14, 2013

If you haven't been translating much in your life, try translating for a week -- like some newspaper articles, for example, at least 8 hours a day, and see if you like it, after a week. If you do, go to study it, or you can study something else in a related field such as literature, language studies, applied linguistics, but it is essential to go to university to study for a few years.

Also, if you decide to devote your professional life to translation, you may be required to work in a pet store or a flower shop, for awhile, when getting established. These are the challenges of our profession.

With your deep interest in computers, you don't have to study translation. You can study computer science or graphic design, and just take a few courses in linguistics and translation, and work on both of your languages all the time. Very few universities in the US have translation as their majors -- the same way as in Colombia

I personally don't think you should waste your time and money to study translation as a major, unless you want to be a literary translator, but then it might be advisable to study literature and writing, and then take a graduate program in literary translation. These are usually Fine Arts degrees.

[Edited at 2013-12-14 12:15 GMT]


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Edward Vreeburg  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 13:15
Member (2008)
English to Dutch
+ ...
OK, so you have a good background. .. Dec 14, 2013

a good specialist field of knowlegde (IT) and a platform to put it all on (blog)... Now all you need is experience and clients. Formal education is not available right now (although online courses or remote studies might be an option)...

You are however competing in an extremely competitive market...
- so prices are low
- budget is low
- many people have no formal education

Do you see many requests for "only apply if you have this or that exam"?

Basically you will need to figure out a way to either get paid to write articles, or use that experience to attract customers for translation work...

I think formal education in your case is something you might pick up later...

Depending on how good your Japanese is, you might attract some clients in that area
Jap->Eng or Jap->Sp..., or simply En->Sp from a Japanese client...

Ed


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felicij  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:15
German to Slovenian
+ ...
IMO there is no need for a formal education Dec 14, 2013

in this world-wide market. Let's take me as an example. I studied German as a sole language and haven't used English almost 10 years. When I decided to be a translator, I wanted to be perfect in the language pair I studied for. But every client that got in touch with me eventually asked me if I could also translate from English. Since it was my first foreign language I agreed. And now it represents 70% of all my projects (after 13 years).
I have no B.A. in it, I also stopped learning it (in school) approx. 20 years ago but I am equally proficient in it as I am in German...


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Chidori7
Colombia
Local time: 07:15
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
The best advice, thank YOU Dec 14, 2013

Flavio Granados wrote:

Sebastian, ojala todos tuvieran "tu problema".

Mi recomendación:

1) Existen institutos en el mundo que imparten la carrera de traducción de manera semipresencial o a distancia, busca uno.

2) Ya que te gusta la informática, estudia una carrera afín a esta, u otra de tu elección, pero no te quedes solo con el conocimiento de traducción que adquirirás.

El "depósito de oportunidades" que genera las condiciones que mencionas es, para ser exagerado, infinito, aprovéchalo.

Saludos,

Flavio


Muchas gracias por su respuesta Señor Flavio, usted tiene toda la razón, necesito que aprovechar lo que tengo a mi disposición. Quizás de tiempo a tiempo usted podría revisar mi blog y dar una crítica para yo mejorar.

Jenae Spry wrote:

Sebastian,

Would leaving and going to school somewhere else be an option for you? I know in the states there are a few programs (I went to the Monterey Institute of International Studies) and I'm not sure what other SA countries might offer, but you might expand your horizons a bit if that is an option for you.

Another option would be to see if you can find a mentor in your language combination. The ATA (American Translators Association) and Proz both have mentorship programs. If you already have some translation skills, you might find a professional who can help guide you in the right direction. Ideally, you would want someone who is also in your desired specialization. Sometimes Mentors will outsource a job or two to a mentee and you would do it for free or at low cost and the Mentor would provide you with feedback in exchange.

Once your skills are up to par, you can take the ATA certification exam (or perhaps there is a professional exam in Columbia?) in order to provide potential clients with a validation of your abilities. In the meantime, you can always work on your writing skills in both languages because grammar, punctuation, wording, etc. are all crucial as a professional translator. Our job is not just getting the point across, but getting the point across in a highly accurate, well-worded and clear manner. Your blog gives you a great opportunity to showcase your abilities and/or receive feedback from those that are qualified to provide it.

Just be sure you consider all your options and your goals before you shell out money and time for school. Getting a degree just to get the piece of paper can backfire, and like I said, once your skills are up to par, you can take that exam as proof that you are a qualified translator. As you have clearly seen with your friends, a degree does not necessarily guarantee a job and to succeed in this industry, you largely have to be prepared to run your own business. A paycheck is not a reality for most of us as in-house jobs have dwindled to nearly non-existent. Running your own business is a VERY rewarding and fun process, but is also a lot of work.

I hope that helps.



Thanks a lot for the response! The most viable option for me is to train myself in both these languages and then take the ATA exam. Your ideas are greatly appreciated.



LilianBNekipelo wrote:

If you haven't been translating much in your life, try translating for a week -- like some newspaper articles, for example, at least 8 hours a day, and see if you like it, after a week. If you do, go to study it, or you can study something else in a related field such as literature, language studies, applied linguistics, but it is essential to go to university to study for a few years.

Also, if you decide to devote your professional life to translation, you may be required to work in a pet store or a flower shop, for awhile, when getting established. These are the challenges of our profession.

With your deep interest in computers, you don't have to study translation. You can study computer science or graphic design, and just take a few courses in linguistics and translation, and work on both of your languages all the time. Very few universities in the US have translation as their majors -- the same way as in Colombia

I personally don't think you should waste your time and money to study translation as a major, unless you want to be a literary translator, but then it might be advisable to study literature and writing, and then take a graduate program in literary translation. These are usually Fine Arts degrees.

[Edited at 2013-12-14 12:15 GMT]


Thank you for taking the time to respond. Actually, since a young age I have been translating from English to Spanish for my parents given the fact that they don't know much English, and that's how I got the idea of being a translator. I will take into account your advice on the subject of Computer Science.




Edward Vreeburg wrote:

a good specialist field of knowlegde (IT) and a platform to put it all on (blog)... Now all you need is experience and clients. Formal education is not available right now (although online courses or remote studies might be an option)...

You are however competing in an extremely competitive market...
- so prices are low
- budget is low
- many people have no formal education

Do you see many requests for "only apply if you have this or that exam"?

Basically you will need to figure out a way to either get paid to write articles, or use that experience to attract customers for translation work...

I think formal education in your case is something you might pick up later...

Depending on how good your Japanese is, you might attract some clients in that area
Jap->Eng or Jap->Sp..., or simply En->Sp from a Japanese client...

Ed


Thank you for your response Edward. Yes I have found out that it is a competitive market, also because my language pair is extremely common. I think my interest in learning the Japanese language could be very positive since it's not so common.

I saw your profile, you mention you have expertise in the area of Computer Science. Which is the best subject in that area and most profitable? Is it Software, Hardware, Video Games? Personally my inclination is toward the hardware and Video Game aspect.

Thanks again.




felicij wrote:

in this world-wide market. Let's take me as an example. I studied German as a sole language and haven't used English almost 10 years. When I decided to be a translator, I wanted to be perfect in the language pair I studied for. But every client that got in touch with me eventually asked me if I could also translate from English. Since it was my first foreign language I agreed. And now it represents 70% of all my projects (after 13 years).
I have no B.A. in it, I also stopped learning it (in school) approx. 20 years ago but I am equally proficient in it as I am in German...


Thank you very much for your insight! Gives me hopes that I can also learn Japanese professionally. It seems that whether someone has a formal education or not, the most important thing is to have work etiquette.





Sebastian


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