Since language is a translator’s livelihood, they can’t afford to let their skills slip. Sure, translators regularly work with their target/source language, but time constraints and never-ending deadlines often keep them from keeping up with the latest colloquialisms and cultural trends. Here are 5 simple ways you can keep your second, third or fourth language skills sharp:
Painless Language Fluency: 5 Tips for Language Translators
Listen to audio books in your target language
According to a 2012 study report by Texas A&M, the average American commuter spends the equivalent of a week at work stuck in traffic every year! How about those of us that reside in large cities like Washington D.C and Los Angeles? According to the same study, D.C. and L.A. commuters spend a whopping 67 and 61 hours stuck in traffic, respectively.
This is a long way of saying that commuters have a lot of idle time they can use productively by listening to audio books in their target language. Granted, many translators work from home…but even so, consider how much time you spend in the car or on the train just running random errands every week!
Keep a notebook in your target language.
Do you keep a journal or a blog? If you do, switch from writing in your first language to your target language. This is a good way to keep your grammar and vocabulary skills sharp.
Join a language group
Odds are that there are people in your community who want to improve or maintain the same target language that you do. We’re members of a Meetup group called the Metro-Detroit Spanish Speakers. Each group is unique, but ours meets once a week at a local coffee shop to hang out, speak Spanish, and enjoy drinks amongst friends.
Teach your target language at a community college
If you live in the States, have a master’s degree, and are fluent in another language, you can teach at the community college level. Teaching will not only improve your mastery of your target language, it will also give you another source of income and get you out of the office for a few hours every week!
Become a community volunteer
Obviously, volunteering for local charities is good for the community, but it can also benefit translators who want to practice their target language. Here in Detroit, for example, there is a large Spanish-speaking community on the south-west side of the city called Mexicantown. Most of the community speaks our target language and offers a variety of opportunities for us to put our passion for language and helping others to good use.