Source language skills

Two of a translator’s most important assets are their source language skills and cultural knowledge, so it is important to keep these skills up-to-date. There are many ways to do this, even if you do not live in a country where your source language is spoken.


Language meet up groups

There are lots of different groups such as those listed on which offer people the opportunity to practice their language skills with other speakers of that language.
Pros: inexpensive, might offer good networking opportunities
Cons: reports suggest that these groups are often frequented by people just starting to learn a language, rather than by fluent speakers so you might find yourself teaching your source language.


Source language skillsOnline language exchanges

It is often possible to arrange language exchanges via Skype through your local university.
Pros: inexpensive, good opportunity to practice a language as it is actually spoken
Cons: need to find a partner who is fluent in your target language who will not try to use you as a teacher (unless you wish them to do so).


Watching source language films

TV channels from many countries are available on the Internet and websites such as Amazon make buying foreign films easy.
Pros: Inexpensive, good for keeping spoken language and listening skills up-to-date
Cons: cultural references might become outdated quickly

Reading source language books or magazines

Bookshops in larger cities often have foreign language sections and many magazines have websites where you can subscribe to publications.
Pros: inexpensive, easy to find
Cons: cultural references might become outdated quickly


Visiting a country where your source language is spoken

Perhaps the translator’s favourite way to practice their language skills.
Pros: total immersion in your source language and culture, could provide ideal marketing opportunities if you combine a holiday with attending a trade show in your specialisation, chance to make friends from a different culture to you
Cons: expensive, time-consuming

What is your preferred method of keeping your source language skills up-to-date? Are there any other methods you prefer to use?





This Post Has One Comment

  1. Alison Hughes

    As you say, this is so important. I subscribe to a French magazine, read French books/articles and converse with my French friends on social media but most important for me is my annual visit to stay with French friends in France where I speak French for the full week.

    It has come in particularly useful this week for my negotiations with a new client who prefers to phone rather than send emails.

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