English, as the third most widely used language in the world, is considered a contemporary ‘lingua franca’. It is the mother tongue of 527 million people and is taught to as many as 1.5 billion people (data published by Newsweek USA in 2015, based on the research of German linguist Ulrich Ammon). Despite the continued popularity of Shakespeare’s language, not everyone knows it at least at a basic level, so when needed, English translators can help. What criteria do you need to meet in order to practice this profession? About this – below.
Key element, i.e. proficiency in the language
Knowledge of the language at C1, C2 level is the most important basic issue. It is not an easy task, because in order to reach the above mentioned language level, one has to learn for years. The earlier you start learning, the better. In addition to the intensive learning of vocabulary and grammar during the school period, it is worth enrolling in courses run by language schools or getting tutoring from private teachers. Today, Cambridge University certifications are very popular and are valued and recognised around the world. There are three levels of language skills to consider: B2+ (FCE), C1 (ADV) and C2 (CPE). The first certificate confirms the intermediate level of English, the second, known as the Advanced English Certificate, confirms the advanced level, and the last, known as the Proficiency English Certificate, tests your proficiency in English. In order to obtain these certificates, you need to register for an exam at an authorized examination centre of your choice and then pass the exam with a positive result, i.e. a minimum of 60% of all points. Examination centres also offer courses to prepare you to pass the exam, which usually last 16 weeks (two semesters). Holiday foreign courses are also a great idea, which allow you to learn the language through everyday communication with native speakers of English. However, these are not the only ways to learn. In the process of acquiring practical language skills, what counts above all is self-discipline and determination. Anyone who has enough enthusiasm and the right learning materials can learn the language well without attending additional courses.
Graduation: is it worth it?
Graduation is not a prerequisite for becoming a English or English-American translator. The situation is different in the case of sworn translators of English who, in addition to fluent knowledge of the language, must meet a number of conditions, including a bachelor’s degree or an engineer’s degree. On the other hand, philology studies are a good preparation for working in this profession. In addition to practical English studies, studies in English Philology provide a better understanding of the culture, literature and history of the UK. This is knowledge that is often useful in the translation process, especially during the so-called localization process. In addition, classes in phonetics and descriptive grammar allow you to work intensively on pronunciation to make it sound as natural as possible. This can be very useful in interpreting. Moreover, philological studies very often have a translation specialization in their core curriculum. During the specialization classes you can get acquainted with the translator’s workshop and learn interesting information from people who have been working in this profession for years. Some universities also have tools supporting the translation process, thanks to which candidates for the English translation profession can learn about the technical aspects of their work. The benefits are not the end of the story. An inseparable element of the course of studies with the above specialisation is the completion of student internships in translation agencies. Thanks to them you can see how the work of a translator looks like from scratch, and even make a translation under the supervision of a specialist.
Training makes a master
The quoted proverb works well in the context of almost every industry. When someone wants to become an English translator, they have to complete dozens of orders in order to practice their individual work skills. If you are just starting your career, you definitely need to do translations as part of your exercises and on a voluntary basis. With time, it is possible to start performing orders for family and friends who, satisfied with the quality of services provided, will recommend them to their friends. It is also worth to choose a specific field and specialize in it. Nobody is an alpha or omega, so it is worth to narrow down the subject of the orders. The work of an English-American and English translator also requires constant development. You need to have an extensive knowledge of the field in which the translator is working, so they hurry up with the help of the courses. It is also necessary to become familiar with translation support tools such as CAT and translation programs.