When you work in the translation sector, it pays to keep your language skills fresh – literally. The better your linguistic abilities, the better equipped you will be to complete jobs with a high degree of accuracy. So how do you keep your language and translation skills honed? We’ve provided some suggestions below to help you do just that.
Our brains, just like our muscles, need regular exercise in order to stay fit and healthy. Working to boost your language skills can therefore not only benefit your income, but also keep your mind functioning to the best of its ability. Learning new skills and practising existing ones, for example through keeping your linguistic knowledge up to date, helps the neurons in your brain to develop more efficient communication pathways between one another. In short, the brain operates better and so does the body, with the risk of digestion issues, high blood pressure and a host of other issues reducing thanks to the brain’s superior functioning.
In general, it is the left hemisphere of the brain that deals with language, so find ways to keep yours busy. Language immersion is a great way to do this. Whether you prefer to lose yourself in a book, listen to the radio, watch a movie or even take a trip overseas, find a way to regularly immerse yourself in your second language (or third, or fourth!). Surrounding yourself with the language (or even teaching it) is a great way to keep your skills fresh and keep up with linguistic developments. After all, you never know when the latest slang will come in handy!
Conferences and events are also a great way to keep your language and translation skills finely tuned. Language events such as translation conferences take place regularly throughout the year in a wide range of locations, so be on the lookout for an event near you. If you can find an event that’s delivered in your second language, so much the better! Remember, too, that conferences are a great place to network, so you could end up picking up some new contacts and client opportunities as well.
There are plenty of apps out there that claim to teach you a new language in as little as 15 minutes a day (although many of these are far more vague about how soon you will become fluent with such a time commitment!). The principle behind these is keeping the language fresh in your brain – repeating and expanding on words and phrases on a daily basis. This is an effective way to learn and also to practice, so make sure you spend at least 15 minutes per day using your second language – even on days when you’re not working and therefore not using it to translate!
If you don’t have friends or family nearby that speak the same languages as you, it’s time to reach out. Depending on where you live, there may be local opportunities to practice your language skills through clubs and activities. If not, there’s always the internet, which is packed with language learners who would be happy to converse in order to keep their own skills current.
Even those who speak a language fluently tend to find that there are some words they don’t know. As such, why not challenge yourself to find one of these per day and learn it in both your native tongue and your second language? After all, keeping your language skills up to date doesn’t need to be dull – the more interesting the word, the better!
Do you use the methods above to keep your language and translation skills fresh? If not, which other ways of doing so can you recommend to your fellow translators? Leave a comment to share your thoughts.