Japanese Translation Tutor
Thread poster: Jeff Bernstein

Jeff Bernstein
United States
Japanese to English
Mar 26, 2016

Hi

I'm working on becoming a translator and am curious what my options are to take me from where I am to the point where I can translate professionally.

I passed the JLPT N1 in 2012 and have been studying consistently since then. At this point I'm mainly just reading books and watching television in Japanese.

I still have a lot to learn with the language, so I'm not sure if I'm really at the point where I can translate professionally, but at a minimum I'd like to start trying to educate myself on translation to see if it's possible.

Here's my question: what are my options for learning how to translate outside of a formal education? I looked at this thread on distance learning, and this course on Simul Academy seems decent, but overall I can't see gaining too much from it. All other programs and certificates I've found online are prohibitively expensive.

The best options I've come up with are to leave my job and try to get some sort of in-house position at a local translation company, or to continue studying Japanese and try to find some sort of one-on-one Japanese translation tutor that could work through sample translations I work on with me and give me feedback. After this I could try to find some freelance translation or it would just put me in a better position to actually find an in-house position.

Does anyone know of a Japanese translation tutor? I'm guessing it's too good to be true

I've been practicing by doing some translations on Gengo. It's fun to make some money while practicing, but I feel like I could progress much more quickly with some targeted feedback.

I majored in engineering in college and worked as an engineer for a couple years, but am currently freelancing in the commercial production industry.

Thank you and sorry for the lengthy post!


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Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:07
Member (2014)
Japanese to English
Fear of flying? Mar 27, 2016

jeffbernstein wrote:
I passed the JLPT N1 in 2012 and have been studying consistently since then.

The JLPT1 is valuable. Many non-Japanese look down on it, but it's how the Japanese government itself assesses competence. It's not the be-all and end-all but it's useful.
At this point I'm mainly just reading books and watching television in Japanese.

Translating is a very different thing to reading. If you want to get better in translation, do more translation.
Here's my question: what are my options for learning how to translate outside of a formal education?

By starting to translate. Personally, if you feel you need an extra bit of paper I wouldn't spend money on something like Simul, but instead invest in some kind of academic qualification, maybe part time.
but at a minimum I'd like to start trying to educate myself on translation to see if it's possible.

Hmmm. I diagnose preparation paralysis.
I've been practicing by doing some translations on Gengo.

Good. We all start somewhere. The more you do, the more you learn.
I majored in engineering in college and worked as an engineer for a couple years, but am currently freelancing in the commercial production industry.

This is potentially very useful for translation. However, I find it odd that, having invested in a completely different education. you are so interested in translation.

Unless it's a very 'soft' engineering degree I suspect you would earn more being an engineer than you would as a young (?) translator with very little experience. And if you're a translator you'll definitely earn more if you already have long experience in engineering to show people.

Why didn't you study translation at college? When you say you're interested in translation, is it really that you're interested in Japan? Because if that's the case I would suggest that you find a route to Japan rather than totally change your career.

Regards
Dan


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Jeff Bernstein
United States
Japanese to English
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you! Mar 28, 2016

Wow, thank you for the very quick and helpful response!

Also, thank you for the diagnosis of preparation paralysis I will get to practicing translation instead of worrying too much about how to approach all of this.

It's kind of a long story how I ended up so interested in translation, but I actually left my engineering career a few years ago so I'm pretty much at entry level with whatever I do at this point (I left it in 2010 to teach English in Japan for a year).

I'd love a career that involves Japanese and lends itself to freelance work so translation seems like a good fit. I'm willing to accept the lower pay. Plus I've really enjoyed the translation I've done so far -- I like how it pushes me to improve my Japanese and use my brain each time I do it.

I wish I had studied Japanese/translation in college, but unfortunately I didn't start studying it until after I graduated!

Thank you again for your advice!!


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Allyson Larimer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:07
Japanese to English
+ ...
Translation training is virtually non-existent Jul 18, 2016

Sorry I'm a couple months late to the party. You may have even solved your problem by now, but I thought I would chime in anyway.

Translation training (specifically distance education for the Japanese/English language pair) is almost non-existent. There is one distance program from the University of Toronto. http://learn.utoronto.ca/courses-programs/languages-translation/courses/japanese But, I don't know anyone who has been through it. Other than that, Simul has some courses, DHC has some courses, but for the most part, you just have to go out there and try your hand at it; if you mean to go freelance.

The best option (IMO) would be to get a job in a Japanese company that would give you some translation experience. Even better if that company had some experienced translators who were willing to give you pointers.

Also, the Japan Association of Translators has something called eJuku. It's an online event where everyone translates the same passage and then compares their translations, getting some pointers along the way from very experienced translators. It is only held in the fall, I think, and you have to be a member. But it was an invaluable opportunity for me when I was just starting.

Also, read a lot about translation. I recommend these:
https://amzn.com/B0076XCU1G
https://amzn.com/B0053D6FZI
http://www.amazon.co.jp/dp/4384055064

You can also learn a lot by attending ATA (American Translators Association) or JAT conferences.

Good luck!


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Jeff Bernstein
United States
Japanese to English
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you! Jul 19, 2016

Wow, thank you so much for your response!

I've actually been searching job listings for in-house positions, but keep backing off because of what I'm guessing is still preparation paralysis (diagnosed by Dan).

I still feel like my Japanese level is insufficient to apply confidently to entry-level positions. I passed the JLPT N1 in 2012, but my studies have been kind of inconsistent since then. I've been studying more intensively/consistently since around April of this year, but I'm still not at a point where I can pick up a newspaper article and read it comfortably. I'd say it's a point I can probably reach within a year if I continue studying how I am now.

I'm nervous that if I start applying to jobs before I reach the point where I am very confident in my Japanese, that I'll just be turned down by all of the translation companies in the area (I'm currently living in Los Angeles), and then won't be able to apply to them again when my Japanese is up to the point where I want it to be.

It's so hard to know what a sufficient level of Japanese is because the JLPT seems to stop pretty short of what is needed as a translator. But people I've talked to have said that the JLPT N2 is actually the starting point for a lot of entry-level positions in Japan.

Do you think I should just go ahead and start applying at this point?

Seriously, thank you so much for the help! I will check out the courses and other information that you linked. I actually wanted to take part in the eJuku this past year but wasn't sure if it would be worth it considering how much money the membership fee for JAT is. I'm also interested in ATA but it just seems so expensive!


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