Learning a language is a lifelong endeavor. Even those with certification are constantly try to push the boundaries of their knowledge. Although most professional translators are already aware of useful techniques to improve their skills, there are many others who, being new to the profession, can be helped to speed their acquisition of their target language. These five techniques are for them.
Step 1: Expand Your Comfort Zone
Progress screeches to a halt when you translate the same things and topics. A way to progress is to constantly seek manageable discomfort. For instance, if you are a crime fiction translator, you can try new genres. Sometimes we receive new insights in our field by treading the unknown tracks.
Step 2: Consistency is the Key to Success
Everyone knows how awesome Michael Phelps is. Few are aware that he practiced everyday for six years before his stunning performance at Rio in 2016. The lesson to learn is straightforward. You can be the Phelps of your field if you maintain consistency over a long period.
Step 3: Update Your Vocabulary Everyday
Words have meanings which can be inferred through context. A way to improve your grasp of word usage and increase your active and passive vocabulary is to learn new words everyday in both of your languages. According to professor Stephen Krashen, “extensive reading is a useful technique to expand your vocabulary”.
Step 4: Read about different domains
The German language has a very useful word – fachidiot (pronounced fa:kh-idiot). A fachidiot is a person who is an expert in their field but knows little about the outer world. The closest English equivalent is “nerd.” You should never be a fachidiot. Strive to learn skills that have little to do with translation. Learn law, programming, writing, culture, history, science, or anything that interests you. Language experts with solid domain skills are always in high demand.
Step 5: Be Humble
Languages change and evolve. It is natural to not know everything. There are more than a million words in English. Do not consider yourself stupid if you have never heard or used 950,000 of them. Learn a little everyday and over time your grasp of both of your languages will improve.
We hope that these techniques will help you improve your translation game. We could not make it exhaustive. If you know a technique that will be helpful to new translators, feel free to share.