Frank self-assessment of both linguistic and business skills are necessary in order to be successful as a freelance translator. BY ADA LUZ RESTREPO

Do you find yourself translating documents at work because your co-workers know you speak Mandarin? Or find yourself serving as “interpreter” between your Mexican family and American husband who doesn’t speak Spanish? People admire your abilities to speak two languages and help others who are still living in a monolingual world; but have you asked yourself if you are truly bilingual and truly bicultural?
These were some of the topics covered during the “Getting Started in Translation and Interpretation,” workshop organized by the NCTA, which took place on Saturday, September 19, at the San Francisco State University downtown campus. → continue reading


The often dysfunctional relationship between project managers and freelance translators may stem from a simple lack of communication. BY SUSAN AYOOB

In a fast-paced, deadline-driven industry, freelance translators and project managers communicate constantly, yet there is often a lack of true communication between both parties. In a way, this is understandable, since there is often little time to discuss details when a project has a short turn-around time. Call, confirm, translate, and deliver. Yet regardless of a project’s scope—be it the translation of a few sentences in Word or a file consisting of thousands of words and involving the management of a hefty translation memory—clear project instructions are an absolute must in order to ensure an on-time, accurate delivery (as well as the avoidance of headaches on both sides). I have worked as both a project coordinator and a freelance translator, and I know that there are certain things that project managers would love for freelance translators to know, and likewise, translators often wish that project managers could do some things a bit differently. → continue reading


A half-day NCTA workshop in San Francisco featured practical strategies for increasing earning power. BY SARAH LLEWELLYN

workshop-at-sfsuSome 30 freelance translators attended the NCTA workshop “Freelance Translation: Beyond the Basics,” held at the SFSU downtown campus on July 11. The half-day workshop was conducted by Corinne McKay, author of How to Succeed as a Freelance Translator and herself a freelance translator. → continue reading


Translorial 31-1 coverThe financial meltdown and ever-increasing unemployment rates do not bode well for the coming year but there are always options, even in hard times. BY QUYEN NGO

The holidays are finally behind us and hopefully the souring economy did not produce too many scrooges. Many of us are probably wondering if 2009 will usher in a brighter economic horizon. Typically, freelance interpreters/translators have been fortunate to work in a field relatively immune to transient economic cycles. But this is no ordinary financial conundrum. Uncertainty looms while the million-dollar question appears to be: “How much more downturn is there?” Navigating the current recession, in a profession that isn’t known for producing steady fixed incomes, can be tricky. Have you been receiving less work? Have you noticed that agencies are taking longer to pay? Have you been getting the proverbial run around: “We didn’t receive your invoice”, or “We’re waiting for payment from the client.” Are you being offered lower rates for work? Have you contemplated reducing your rates so you can get work? → continue reading


A report on a workshop for candidates planning to take the ATA certification examination. BY NORMA KAMINSKY

On August 23, Tuomas Kostiainen, NCTA President and member of the ATA Certification committee, who has been an ATA exam grader, once again stepped up to share his knowledge, experience, and advice with translators contemplating taking the ATA Certification Exam. Tuomas’ presentation included a discussion of the exam itself, reasons to take it, explanations of eligibility requirements, skills tested in the exam, grading, preparation, planning, types of errors, and tips for success. → continue reading


Whether it’s Uncle Sam, Big Brother or Scrooge who’s in charge, employment prospects for qualified language professionals are dim and getting dimmer. BY NINA BOGDAN

Last year, Translorial’s Stafford Hemmer wrote a two part story on the creation of the “Civilian Language Reserve Corps,” now re-named the National Language Service Corps (NLSC). In the article, Robert Slater, then the Director of the National Security Education Program, was quoted as stating that, “Compensation plans are still under development.” Currently, information on the NLSC website notes that when NLSC members are called to duty, they will be paid “based on scales used by the federal government.” The website also states that minimum requirements to be an NLSC Charter Member for their “Pilot Project” are: being at least 18 years old, a U.S. citizen, highly skilled in a foreign language, and having a desire to use that language in the service of others. → continue reading