Working as a professional linguist is a never-ending learning process. If you are specialised in a sector which is constantly developing, such as IT, you will need to keep up with the most up-to-date vocabulary. You also need to be familiar with and implement the latest technology as required.
The language services industry is very different from what it was 10 – 20 years ago. I simply cannot imagine working as a translator without some sort of computer assisted translation software or online dictionaries. They save you a lot of time and you become more efficient. So what should you do to stay up to date? There is no secret, here is what we do:
1. Read books
Nowadays, the most comprehensive repository of books is Amazon. There is a wide selection either in paperback or electronic format. I personally prefer reading books on my Kindle as it is easy to carry and you can have hundreds of books available at a time, not to mention that many times they are cheaper than the classic variant. Another positive aspect is that you save some trees, and helping the environment is one of our agency’s missions.
When it comes to the topic of translating and interpreting, there are a lot of books on the subject. Below is a list with a few of my personal picks:
- Routledge Encyclopedia of Translation Studies
- After Babel: Aspects of Language and Translation (first appeared in ’75 but still a solid resource)
- The Translation Studies Reader
2. Start a blog – be active
If you get involved and start writing, you will make a lot of friends. Sharing your experiences (good or bad) will help the community and you personally.
3. Attend conferences or language shows
It is sometimes hard to admit it, but there will always be someone better than you are. The good news is that they will share their knowledge at different events, so why not take advantage of it? There are lot of industry gatherings throughout the world. Attending one always brings in some new tricks. You could try the Language Show if you are UK based.
Let’s say for example that your source language is French and you are an English native. Why not plan your holiday in France? Even if you have been there before, there are lots of places you could see. Getting in touch with locals boosts your vocabulary with new idioms used by the real experts. And, of course, you will enjoy the fantastic food and wine! Bon appétit!
5. Attend courses
Even if you are not a beginner, attending courses on the topic of translating and/or interpreting can improve your expertise. It gives you a holistic non-biased view of the current methods or methodologies within the language industry. However, this may be costly, but the benefits in the long run should definitely weigh more.