There is a big difference between being able to communicate in a second language and being fluent enough in Arabic to work as a translator or interpreter.
This level of fluency requires more than a passive ability with the language. You must be able to speak, read, write, and generally comprehend the vocabulary and grammar of Arabic and express the original intent a clear and distinct way.
So, in effect, becoming a translator or interpreter requires two things:
- Arabic language skills
- The ability to creatively and effectively express yourself
The program at Arab Academy is designed to help you gain the proficiency you need for jobs that involve translating Arabic. From there, it’s just a matter of practice and training to be able to express the translation in a professional manner.
Here’s how to get started:
1. Get Confident in Arabic
When you are translating from Arabic to English (or vice versa), you won’t have much time to question yourself – especially if you’re interpreting in a live situation.
You need to feel confident with your language abilities so you can stand in front of others and speak calmly and smoothly. You will also need to be able to translate the written word quickly, because your employer will need a fast turnaround on everything.
The only way to gain this level of confidence is through repetition.
Speak the language as often as you can. Review your vocabulary as much as possible. If you’re watching TV shows or movies to practice listening to Arabic, watch the same things repeatedly.
Eventually, you’ll start to speak, read, and write without thinking (or getting nervous) about it.
2. Train Constantly
How would you say that in Arabic?
That’s a question you will need to ask yourself all the time in order to keep the language at the forefront of your mind.
You may be watching TV or in the middle of a conversation with a friend – whatever it is, take a moment to ask yourself how you would express the phrase you just heard in Arabic.
Immerse yourself in the language as much as possible. Listen to the language daily. Write in the language by hand and on the computer. Read books, websites, and anything else that has proper Arabic grammar.
Sign up for regular lessons with our native speakers and make sure you have an opportunity to put your skills to the test.
3. Learn Industry-Specific Terms
Translators tend to stick to specific industries because they know the terms and phrases that are specific to it. (Even if they do change jobs, they’re usually still pretty close in terms of vocabulary.)
It can be a real challenge to go from, for example, translating commentary on a soccer game in real-time to interpreting a speaker at a gathering of automobile manufacturers.
Getting a job as a translator means that you need to have a very detailed knowledge of all the jargon and technical vocabulary that people in that field often use.
If you really push it, you can, of course, become very fluent in more than one industry’s vocabulary at once. However, if you are just getting into translating as a career, you may find it more productive to specialize in the areas that interest you the most.
4. Get Tested and Get Certified
Accreditation is a key component of getting any job that involves interpretation or translation of another language.
No job interview will be able to test the extent of your language abilities, so your potential employers have to rely on credentials or documentation to prove that you have the adequate language ability.
At Arab Academy, we provide the Arabic Language Proficiency Test (ALPT), the global standard for measuring one’s true proficiency level.
This test can evaluate the test-taker’s current abilities which makes it a great way to provide proof of your fluency level to prospective employers.
5. Get Experience
You probably won’t get your ideal job right out of the gate. No one ever does, no matter what industry they’re in.
It’s going to take a while. You’re going to have to start with some entry level positions and work your way up to the ladder.
Our Arabic language courses are a great start, and our immersion programs will take you even further. Most importantly, students at any skill level can take advantage of our one-on-one speaking classes to get immediate feedback on their skills with a native speaker.
From there, you will need to put your knowledge to good use. This might mean taking some less-interesting positions at first, or it could involve building a portfolio of book, news, or blog translations that you can show off.
6. Continue Your Education
You’re never done learning a language.
The minute you stop learning Arabic is the minute you start forgetting Arabic.
Your marketability as a translator or interpreter will depend greatly on your reputation, and if you have a history of always being up with the trends in different industries and the specific jargon they use, word will spread about your abilities, and you’ll continue to get work.
And always remember, there is more to being a translator than fluency in the language. As you continue to study Arabic, think about exploring some new translation software. Practice simultaneous and consecutive interpreting. Maybe it’s time to study a new industry and a new category of vocabulary.
There’s always something to learn, and if you are actively engaged in the language, you’ll soon get that translator job you are after.