A translator depends on its knowledge and other set of skills that are as important for the profession. Whether you work for an agency or decide to work as a freelance, these are some skills you can work on in order to be a better translator and to optimize your work.
One of the most important skills a translator should have is the ability to listen. A good translator should be able to read through the text as well as to focus on what a recording says in order to understand the context. Listening means being able to understand not what you want but what the other person wants to express. It is important to both, listen actively and reflectively.
To listen actively means to concentrate on what we are listening to, without formulating responses or interrupting others. It means to be engaged with what we hear and focus on it. Whereas, to listen reflectively is related to getting reflections. It is a good idea to briefly review the main points in order to make sure we understood correctly. Listening is important for a translator because it is entirely related to communication.
You can practice your listening skills during working hours or even with everyday activities. While making a point to listen to people around to understand them means to put every sense and not giving them smart answers or suggestions they may want to hear.
Edith Grossman, a well-known translator, said that serious professional translators think of themselves as writers. Indeed, a translator needs to master the ability to write in their native language and their target language. Having a good use of grammar and syntax is a skill needed for the job. Some ways to improve writing skills include reading, getting writing classes, taking online courses, reading technical books and being aware of changes in spelling. It is important to keep in mind that languages do evolve and part of this includes new vocabulary or expressions. Writing is still a very important form of communication. Therefore, a translator should be good at it.
- Excellent reading and comprehension skills
A translator should be fluent in their source language and having excellent reading and comprehension skills is important in order to accurately translate what is being said. Some ways to improve these skills include reading, listening and watching material in the source language or purchasing and referring to language and style guides.
- Use networking
Networking is a great way to get your name and portfolio out there. Most agencies hold networking events for freelancers to attend and this is a great way to meet people and for people to get to know you. Going to an event organized by an agency you worked with in the past offers the perfect opportunity to start networking.
- Cultural intelligence
A translator will most of the time have to deal with cultural barriers between two countries. Therefore, cultural intelligence is a skill they should have. It is important to sympathize with the audience that will read what you translate and to give all to the translation, especially in cases where trans creation techniques or localization are required. Translator function as cultural consultants and let clients know when something is not appropriate in the target language. You can improve your cultural intelligence by spending time in the source culture and the target culture, taking classes in intercultural communication and studying material on the different cultures.
- Time management
Most translators work from home or take individual projects as freelancers. Thus, it is important that they optimize their working hours. Having a consistent working schedule is vital because time is money. Some skills needed to have a good time management are self-motivation, organization and discipline. Being motivated will help you continuously market your services. Also, being organized and disciplined will help you meet deadlines and make money efficiently. Furthermore, having a good space to work is important for time management, as well as limiting distractions while working.