Translation podcasts – have you caught on yet?

by OFER TIROSH 26/07/2017

There’s such a thing as technology for technology’s sake. However, there are also those lightbulb moments when technology really adds something to your working life. Like the first time you use a really decent CAT tool, or the first time you listen to a professional translation podcast. Suddenly the value of technology shines brightly and allows you to see a whole host of new possibilities. 

Translation podcasts – what are they?

A podcast is a digital audio file that you can listen to online or else download to your computer to listen to when you are offline. Many sectors have embraced the opportunities that podcasts present and the translation industry is no exception. 

Broadly speaking, translation podcasts fall into two categories: those that inform and those that entertain. The former act as an educational resource, which is ideal for freelance translators who may not enjoy the benefits of working for a large corporation that delivers regular training courses. The latter can be a source of interesting information and entertainment that serves to inspire freelance translators who lack a traditional working environment support network. Of course, there’s also plenty of crossover between the two types of podcast! 

Educational podcasts

When was the last time you invested some time in enhancing your translation skills? Or your freelancing skills? When you work freelance, it’s difficult to carve out time for your own development. After all, time that you spend improving your skills is time that could otherwise be spent billing clients. However, keeping your skills fresh and picking up news ideas is key to ensuring that you remain a successful freelancer. As such, why not set aside a few minutes each day to listen to one of these fabulous educational podcasts? 

Marketing Tips for Translators focuses on how you can grow your freelance business. Marketing and translation expert Tess Whitty presented her first podcast in 2014. She has gone on to win the Proz.com Community Choice Award for her podcast in 2014, 2015 and 2016. If you only listen to one podcast in order to thrive as a freelancer, make sure this is it! 

Speaking of Translation offers a wide variety of educational podcasts, covering topics as diverse as enhancing your productivity and maintaining your second language. The site is a great resource for those who like to dip in and out of topics, picking up key snippets of information as they go along. The handling the holidays as a freelancer podcast is particularly worth a listen at this time of year. 

For those interested in classical text translation, the University of Oxford offers a four-part series of podcasts looking at the literary and philosophical aspects of translation, as well as the technical challenges. 

Entertainment podcasts

Entertainment podcasts include interviews with translation professionals, musings on language, discussions on linguistics and all manner of diverse topics. Many educate as well as entertain, so these can be a great way to enjoy your leisure time while still picking up hints and tips that will help to develop your freelance translation career or simply further your passion for languages. 

The World in Words is a great place to start for this kind of podcast. The site focuses on a love of language, from the swear words our we learned at our grandmothers’ knees to ancient language connections to why we’re obsessed with Elena Ferrante. 

A Way with Words offers a similarly diverse range of entertaining podcasts, with language at their core. From obscure phrases to historic reasons for changes in pronunciation, the podcasts are packed with interesting titbits that are perfect for keeping you inspired as to the rich complexity of language. 

Translators on Air is another great entertainment option. Hosts Dmitry Kornykhov and Elena Tereshchenkova present this translation chat show, with the topics covering everything from working with self-published authors to interviews with interesting figures in the translation industry. 

Lexicon Valley is a riveting exploration of socio-linguistics that is presented in a digestible and engaging format - well worth a listen whether you're formally studying languages or just looking to further your interest in them. 

Langfocus is an entertaining voyage through a range of language-related matters, with a healthy smattering of 'dad jokes' to amuse viewers.

Lingthusiasm is a monthly podcast that decribes itself as "a lively, nerdy, language-y conversation with real linguists." Humour is high on the agenda, along with an enthusiastic look at all things linguistic. 

NativLang is a series of animated videos that look at what a range of ancient languages sounded like - fascinating to dip in and out of, no matter what your interest in linguistics may be.

The Ling Space is an interesting and varied series of snippets that have proven very popular with viewers. There's a huge number of recordings available, so this is a fantastic resource for those just beginning to explore the world of language podcasts and YouTube channels. 

Finally, this translation interview from Globally Speaking with SDL chief executive Adolfo Hernandez provides some interesting insights into the state of the translation industry. 

As with any form of educational or entertainment material, different styles will appeal to different listeners. Scout around to see which translation podcasts suit you best – you’ll be glad you did! 

Final thoughts

What has been the most useful translation podcast that you’ve listened to? How did you change the way you work as a result of it? Let us know in the comments below. 

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