How to Become a Great Translator or Interpreter

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You’d think that translators and interpreters would owe much of their success to good fortune. It’s true that being born into the right environment or the right family can be all it takes for a great translator to blossom. Being raised in a diverse mix of culture and language can encourage bilingual or even multilingual development – and kick-start a command of language that will last a lifetime.


But it’s not exclusively multilingual children that grow up to become translators and interpreters. In fact, most will never even think of becoming translators. People from all walks can discover their love of language at any stage in their life, becoming great translators and interpreters and forging a new career. So how do translators become great at their craft?


Become a Great Writer First


Translators need to have total control of their own language. The best way to learn the limits and boundaries of any language is to use it creatively, exploring the fringe words and sayings – even making new ones up. Spinning a good yarn is an art, not a science, and honing that artistic skill takes practice.


Writing can come naturally to some, but anyone can work on their storytelling by using prompts, reading blogs and guides, and applying writing rules until their own internal voice matures.


Creativity is an important part of writing and translating, and it’s a skill that everyone has within them. Even those who claim to be completely uncreative actually are: they just need to unlock it.


Always Keep Learning


Excellent interpreters and brilliant translators put “learn something new” at the top of their daily tasks. Chances are, you’ll learn something new today without even trying (maybe even by reading this post!). Nobody can truly claim to know it all. Kwintessential is a translation agency with a collection of diverse minds, so all of us find new things, in one way or another, every day.


For budding translators, education and academia are brilliant places to start a love affair with language. After school, further education can help you master a foreign language and achieve qualifications that will give you an edge. But qualifications and certifications are just a part of your skillset, and one of the many ways you can grow as a translator. As with so many things in life, real-world experience is the key.


Gather Experience


Anyone who learned a foreign language at school will remember the difficulty of first picking up the phrases, structures and irregularities in a new language. It comes with time, with practice and with study.


There is another way to gain experience in new languages. It’s one of the many ways that people fall in love with translating and interpreting – total immersion in another language. Travel makes this linguistic immersion possible – and as a side effect, has the benefit of enriching your life with amazing experiences.


You don’t have to travel to far-flung corners of the earth to immerse yourself in another language. Making friends with someone whose dominant language is the one you’re studying can help both of you develop your skills. It’s not quite as effective, or fun – but it’s certainly closer to home!


Love Languages – Especially Your Own


The word “passionate” gets thrown around so often, so liberally and so loosely that you’d be forgiven for thinking it means “mildly interested”. Having a true passion for something is almost awkward to explain to others, even to other people with a craft or love for a hobby. They might be able to relate to someone else’s passion – but they’ll never truly understand what the draw is.


That immersion and constant fascination with the subject is what separates the great translators and interpreters from the good ones. Language isn’t just a job, it’s their life. It’s what they’d be studying and working with even if they weren’t getting paid for it. The best language to fall in love with is your own. Master as much of it as you can. Explore every corner of it, learn its origins and try to predict its future.


Once you find a love for language, you can never let go – translating, interpreting and enjoying the quirks of language will become your own entertainment, and spur your interest for the rest of your life.


Translations and Interpreting from Kwintessential


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