ORAL FLASHCARDS: Tapping into Auditory & Vocal Skills to Improve Term Acquisition

By Julie A. Sellers

Reprinted from the ATA Chronicle’s June 2012 issue with gracious permission from the author and the editor

Language is ever evolving and never static, and interpreters must strive constantly to expand and refine their linguistic knowledge. As such, they must incorporate ways to practice language skills into their daily lives. Many of us have used paper flashcards to help facilitate language acquisition at some point in our career. It is a simple method: on one side of the card we write a term in our first language (L1), and on the reverse we write the same term in our second language (L2). Oral flashcards take the concept of practicing forward and backward translation a step further by turning it into a listening and speaking activity. As we shall see, this technique is particularly valuable to interpreters.

Why Oral Flashcards?
Creating a study method that works for you is key to successful and sustained vocabulary practice and development. Oral flashcards are productive tools for learning new terms or practicing less commonly used ones because the exercise mimics
what interpreters actually do on the job by drawing on auditory and vocal skills far more effectively than traditional paper flashcards. They can also be created easily. Instead of writing on a card, you create an audio recording of the terms you wish to practice. The process involves just a few steps:

• Prepare a list of terms or phrases you want to learn and group them by topic. Familiarize yourself with the terms so that you can pronounce them smoothly when recording. Each recording should be no longer than five minutes. This will facilitate locating terms quickly for review and will keep digital audio files smaller.

• Record yourself saying each term in L1, leave a brief interval to allow yourself time to respond during practice sessions, and then say the term’s equivalent in L2. You should
also make a second recording from L2 to L1, since it is important to create oral flashcards that move in both directions to strengthen backward and forward translation. There are a variety of methods with which to create oral flashcards.

Digital Recorders: These devices are an inexpensive option. Some recorders give you the ability to create multiple files containing word lists, but you will be unable to customize the list names since they will appear simply as numbers on the recorder’s display. This is a disadvantage because you will be unable to scroll through and find specific lists quickly or switch the order of your lists. Some digital recorders come with software that allows you to upload recordings as mp3 files to the computer, where you can rename the list files so they are easy to locate and differentiate. From there, you can burn a CD or transfer the files to an iPod, mp3 player, or smartphone. Although
digital recorders with this capability cost more, it is worth the extra investment to have the flexibility they offer.

Podcasts: You can create podcasts with programs such as Audacity, PodProducer, and WildVoice Studio, which can then be transferred to an iPod or mp3 player or else played directly from your computer. Again, these have the benefit of allowing you to customize the names of your lists so they can be identified and located easily.

GarageBand for Mac: If you are a Mac user, the GarageBand application, which comes standard as part of the iLife suite, provides a user friendly option. GarageBand allows you to select “Create New Podcast Episode” from the main menu. Users can indicate whether their recording is of a male or female voice, which improves quality. Editing features include the ability to change the timing of your recording, split tracks, move portions of a track, and insert new portions of recorded material into an existing track. The recording quality is good and it is easy to export files directly to iTunes and upload them to an iPod, iPhone, or burn them to a CD.

Windows Sound Recorder for PC: PC users might be interested in Windows Sound Recorder. This application, which comes standard on PCs, is user-friendly and allows you the benefit of recording directly to your desktop. This is an especially good option for those new to recording on anything other than a digital or standard tape recorder, since it requires no additional investment. The only requirement is that you have a sound card and an inexpensive microphone.

Software: Free downloads or recording software are also available, such as Audacity (for PC, Mac, and Linux at http:// audacity.sourceforge.net/download) and Free Sound Recorder for PC (http://cnet.co/Free-Sound). If you want something with more capacity, you can purchase a number of software programs. Prices vary, so do your research and find the one that best fits your needs and preferences (see reviews at
http://bit.ly/voice-software-reviews).

Smartphone Apps: Many smartphones come preloaded with a voice recorder. You simply record onto your phone and play it back whenever you want to practice. There are also downloadable apps for purchase that allow for voice recording. For example, I have used QuickVoice on my iPhone for voice recording (www.quickvoice. com/quickvoice).

Tape Recorder: Finally, there is nothing wrong with a good old-fashioned tape recorder, if this is what you feel most comfortable using. A disadvantage will be searching for your lists or locating them using a counter. In addition to helping us learn and practice, an added bonus of oral flashcards is that they are considerably more portable and accessible than a notebook or a stack of traditional paper flashcards. It is much easier to schedule time to practice and study vocabulary into our daily routine when it can be done while walking the dog, running on the treadmill, vacuuming, or cooking dinner. Repetition fulfills important functions in normal, everyday speech. The effectiveness of oral flashcards goes beyond mere convenience. This approach to term acquisition also
takes advantage of certain neurological theories associated with how we learn and retain information, some of which are discussed below.

Learning in Chunks
Research in second language acquisition has shown that attempting to learn a language word by word will not result in the internalization of that language’s overall linguistic structure, and instead can contribute to fossilization because a speaker is unable to create original utterances with the language. Communicative approaches to language learning thus emphasize the importance of meaningful input: hearing the language used realistically and in context so that learners can begin to incorporate it into their ever developing internal understanding of how the language works. Similarly, these approaches stress the importance of learning meaningful chunks of language in context.

According to David Wood, coordinator of the program for the Certificate in the Teaching of English as a Second Language at Carleton University’s School of Linguistics and Applied Language Studies, these chunks are linguistic formulas or, “fixed strings …
of words that have a range of functions and uses in speech production and communication and seem to be cognitively stored and retrieved by speakers as if they were single words.”1 Many first phrases spoken by those just beginning to learn a language (e.g., “What’s your name?” or “How are you?”) are common examples of chunks. Similarly, the doublets and triplets common to legal language can be described as chunks (e.g., “give, devise, and bequeath”). Because these word strings follow a set pattern, speakers can remember and use them without variation. By learning the meaning of a chunk, we are able to communicate without having to think
through the nuts and bolts of its construction.

For example, Spanish learners can easily express likes and dislikes using Me gusta / No me gusta long before they understand indirect object pronouns. Such formulaic sequences play an important role in language acquisition. Chunking aids in the internalization of language and contributes to fluency by increasing the amount of
speech produced without a pause. 2

In other words, we communicate meaning rather than simply string individual words together. Novice language learners, for example, can have a completely legitimate conversation using nothing but chunks such as “Hello, how are you? What’s your name? Where are you from? Where do you live? What’s your phone number? Nice to meet you. I’ll see you later,” and so on. Speech patterns and tendencies to use formulaic sequences are such that we become aware of them both consciously and subconsciously. Never was this clearer to me than the time I had a student raise his hand and ask what I was always looking for when I said Vamos a ver (“Let’s see”) as I consulted the list of activities for the day. This type of awareness, as Wood points out, helps, “establish a pattern recognition unit, which is then strengthened by frequent input, eventually leading to single-step memory access … [and] … automatization or retrieval in a single-step process of remembering”3

Thus, we do not have to think of each individual word or form in a chunk; rather, the entire
string is accessed and produced as one unit. Using these chunks or even a series of them allows time for us to attend to other utterances that demand more attention and are not formulaic. For example, a novice language learner does not consciously have to think about the meaning of “My name is…” and can instead pay attention to the information that follows.

Repetition
Without a doubt, repetition is essential to learning chunks of information. It is not enough simply to listen to something; we need to reproduce the sounds and train our vocal chords to form them. Repetition in language learning has sometimes gotten a bad rap because of its association with the behaviorist audio lingual approach of the 1950s and 1960s. Lee James and Bill VanPatten, both internationally recognized scholars in the field of second language acquisition, note that audio lingualism, which is based on
theories of behaviorism, was originally, “[d]eveloped at military schools (where one did not question authority) … [and it] … explicitly cast the instructor as drill leader.”4 The end goal of this approach is to create good habits in language learners and eliminate bad ones. Therefore, audio lingual learning activities emphasize patterned drills. Central to this approach are compact language drills (CDLs) in which learners repeat what an instructor says.

As a result, repetition is sometimes cast aside because it conjures up the image of rote drills. Nevertheless, repetition fulfills important functions in normal, everyday speech. We need only think of how children parrot everything they hear when learning to speak to know that repetition serves as a building block of language learning and, later, original creation with the language. This is a result of a component of working memory known as the phonological loop, which deals with spoken and written language. In an article in Psychological Review, Alan Baddeley, Susan Gathercole, and Costanza Papagno explain that the phonological loop, “comprises both a phonological store, which holds information in phonological form, and a rehearsal process, which serves to maintain decaying representations in the phonological store.”5 Similar to using chunks, repetition allows us to produce easy to remember formulaic utterances while giving our minds time to craft what follows.6

Second language speakers have to know both content and form to create utterances within a language. Novice language learners tend to remember words in L2 by binding them to their L1 translation; in other words, they do not see a new L2 term as having meaning in and of itself, but rather through its link to the word in L1.7 In an article discussing language representation and processing in fluent bilinguals in Neuropsychologia, Shekeila Palmer, Johanna van Hoof, and Jelena Havelka explain that with increased proficiency, speakers of a second language develop, “an asymmetrically connected linguistic system in which the two lexicons are linked both directly at the lexical level, and indirectly via independent links between each lexicon and the conceptual store.” 8 That is, we make connections both on a word-for-word and a meaning-for-meaning level. As many of us know from experience, the consequence of this asymmetrical system is that backward translation going from L2 to L1 is faster than forward translation because it tends to be lexical, or at the word level. In contrast, forward translation tends to be based more on meaning and concepts. 9

Musical Memory
The concept of listening to a recording also ties into how the brain processes auditory stimuli. Music and memory are uniquely linked. Music often accompanies our memories, and those memories of music come back very accurately. Oliver Sacks, a neurologist and professor of neurology and psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center, has found in his work with patients that, “musical perception, musical sensibility, musical emotion, and musical memory can survive long after other forms of memory have disappeared.” 10

As linguists, we can capitalize on our musical intelligence and the strength of musical memories. If you listen to anyone for very long, you will pick up on the unique rhythmic qualities of his or her individual speech. We can likewise tap into our own musicality the
unique rhythms and sounds of our individual way of speaking to help us remember by following the beat of our speech patterns. Self-repetition of words and phrases plants a rhythmic memory in your brain of the way you produce those words and phrases. Practicing our vocabulary by listening to audio recordings of ourselves repeating terms allows us to draw on the rhythm of speech (and not so much on the linguistical aspects) to retrieve and recall content.

For example, whether you consider yourself a musician or not, you likely have experienced something known as an earworm at some point in your life. Earworms are those snippets of music that get stuck and replay through our minds, often with maddening consistency. When we remember, neurons fire in the same pattern as when we first perceived the object or event we remember. In the case of earworms, it
appears that the pattern is firing repeatedly much like a scratch on a vinyl record or CD.11 As studies of music and the brain indicate, musical memories often outlast other memories since they are stored differently. Tapping into your own musicality by using oral flashcards to learn, practice, and remember is like having a backup rhythmic copy of the concrete.

As country singer Trisha Yearwood sings, “The song remembers when.”12 Oliver Sacks likewise quotes one of his correspondents: “Every memory of my childhood has a soundtrack to it.”13 Many of us would agree with both observations regarding the power of musical memory.

Understanding How We Learn
Taken together, these understandings of the architecture of our linguistic system suggest that oral flashcards are an effective strategy to help us enhance our vocabularies and improve our skills as interpreters. Because we, as linguists, need to be able to move back and forth fluidly between languages, our practice of new terms should challenge us. Our practice of new terms should challenge us to exercise every aspect of the brain’s capacity to learn and adapt to linguistic patterns.
By using repetition to strengthen our proficiency in a language, and by becoming familiar with the musicality of our individual pronunciation, we will become more aware of how these language patterns can affect our performance.

Notes
1. Wood, David. “Uses and Functions of Formulaic Sequences in Second Language Speech: An Exploration of the Foundations of Fluency.” The Canadian Modern Language Review (Volume 63, no. 1, 2006), 14.
www.aclacaal.org/Revue/vol-12- 1_art-wood.pdf.
2. Ibid., 13-33.
3. Ibid., 17.
4. Lee, James F., and Bill VanPatten. Making Communicative Language Teaching Happen (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2003), 7.
5. Baddeley, Alan, Susan Gathercole, and Costanza Papagno. “The Phono logical Loop as a Language
Learning Device.” Psychological Review (Volume 105, no. 1, 1998), 158.
6. Rydland, Veslemøy and Vibeke Grøver Aukrust. “Lexical Repetition in Second Language Learners’ Peer Play Interaction.” Language Learning (Volume 55, no. 2, 2005). 7. Palmer, Shekeila D., Johanna C. van Hoof, and Jelena Havelka. “Language Representation and Processing in Fluent Bilinguals: Electrophysiological Evidence for Asymmetric Mapping in Bilingual Memory.” Neuropsychologia (Volume 48, 2010), 1426-1437.
8. Ibid., 1426.
9. Ibid., 1426.
10. Sacks, Oliver. Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain (New York: Vintage, 2007), 373.
11. Levitin, Daniel J. This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession (New York: Dutton, 2006).
12. Prestwood, Hugh. “The Song Remembers When” [Recorded by Trish Yearwood]. On The Song Remembers When [CD]. Nashville: MCA, 1993.
13. Sacks. Musicophilia: Tales ofMusic and the Brain, 37.

Parting Words from NYCT’s Intern

As my internship at the New York Circle of Translators (NYCT) nears its end, it has been a great experience to be able to learn and grow in an environment full of others who share my interest in languages. My name is Hasia (Angela) Bronstein and I am an undergraduate student presently completing my Bachelor of Arts in Spanish/English Translation and Interpretation Studies at the City University of New York—Hunter College.

Ever since I can remember I have had a fascination with languages and human communication. Their unique phonetic compositions, distinct writing systems, and grammatical complexities fascinated me ever since I was a small child; how in one language we say “I miss you” and in another “I feel your absence”. I started learning Spanish when I was in sixth grade and it started out by happenchance as an error in my class schedule. My teacher insisted, “Stay a week and if you don’t like it you can drop it.” Learning languages soon became a pastime for me and I continued to study Spanish through high school. I now speak English, Spanish, Portuguese and Hebrew with some knowledge of French and I am now focusing my linguistic pursuits on Arabic. I continued to study Spanish through college. Like most college students, the focus of my major changed a few times starting out as an Applied Linguistics major and then a Romance Languages major I eventually transferred to Hunter College in the Spring of 2013 and decided to take my interest in languages towards a more focused career path majoring in Spanish/English Translation and Interpretation studies.

The program at Hunter is unique and still growing showing a great potential and is one of the only programs in the New York City area offering an undergraduate degree in Translation/Interpretation.

The degree is through the Spanish Department and consists of a wide array of courses which students must take in Spanish Grammar and Composition, Modern Literature and Translation theory and practice, Translation in the professions which focuses on a specific professional arena such as medical, legal or literary translation.

Classes in both consecutive and simultaneous interpretation are also offered. Course requirements are allied with the Hunter College English Department insuring that students have a strong basis and are well rounded in the culture, literature and structure of both language pairs.
I arrived as an intern at the New York Circle of Translators after meeting and discussing possible internship positions with my program director, Professor Maria Cornelio. Students seeking a BA in Spanish Translation/Interpretation must complete an internship.

The internship position is an opportunity for students to utilize the skills learned in class as well as to network and develop new skills from hands-on work experience. Professor Cornelio had invited students to attend a couple of events held by the New York Circle of Translators and I found them interesting and informative. While brainstorming with Professor Cornelio about possible internship positions, she suggested the option of interning with the NYCT and the rest is history!

My internship experience has been positive. While interning for the New York Circle of Translators I had the opportunity to attend events in which speakers and panelists discussed issues involved in the translation field and how to tackle the challenges involved in the fields of Transcreation and Subtitling. Other events included the NYCT Annual Networking Event which experienced great success in connecting translators and interpreters with Translation Agencies seeking to benefit from each member’s unique set of skills. I helped by making phone calls and spread sheets organizing member information and did my best to facilitate any difficulties involved in holding these events.

Overall the NYCT and their events are like a family which serves to help one another by offering advice and support. They have an up and coming mentoring program which that seeks to provide one on one professional guidance by experienced members to those new to the fields of translation and interpretation. I am very grateful to be able to have served as an intern for the New York Circle of Translators and have great expectations for the future both for myself and for the NYCT.

Sincerely,
Hasia (Angela) Bronstein

A little bit of the translation and interpretation industry in Venezuela

This brief article aims at outlining to New York’s translators the experience of a Venezuelan remarkable professional and business owner, convinced of the key role of high quality translators in multicultural communication.

Introduction

Maria Josefina Quijada Aponte is a Venezuelan Spanish, English, French translator and interpreter. She graduated at the Universidad Central de Venezuela on Modern Languages and pursued high level studies on Translation and Interpretation at the School of Interpreters and Translators of Paris (ESIT) and has a master´s degree in International Relations. She started to work as a professional interpreter and translator in 1986 when she founded ENLACE SERVICIOS LINGUISTICOS PROFESIONALES, a company that offers comprehensive translation and interpretation services.

In Venezuela, because of the reduced size of the market, it is difficult to specialize; however, the oil sector, the most important industry in the country, certainly employs much of the available interpreters, due to the intensive training programs of the oil industry, largely dictated by instructors who use English as the language of communication.

Claudia Layas (CL): Maria, what motivated you to found Enlace?

Maria Quijada (MQ): I was motivated by the desire to be financially independent and the realization that there was the need in the country for high quality and comprehensive translation services.

CL: What do you consider as your main challenges as a business woman in the Venezuelan translation industry?

MQ: The challenges in the translation industry do not differ from those in other business areas: permanent innovation, attention to the clients’ needs and never compromise on quality. Additionally, the market for translation and interpretation in Venezuela is not very large, so we all compete for the same clients, mainly the oil industry, to some extent medical congresses, the public sector and some technological areas such as computer industry.
Fortunately, the country has a training school for interpreters and translators at the university level that has been a remarkable seedbed of professionals, whose integrity and discipline have allowed them to overcome obstacles and outshine both inside and outside the country.
About the access to technology, in the early years of my career it definitely represented a challenge. I remember that back then computers began to be sold, cell phones were not as ubiquitous as today and fax machines were almost magical. Nowadays, with the available technology, access to information is no longer a problem.

CL: When you offer interpretation services for international conferences in Venezuela, do you follow any certification standards or internationally agreed guidelines?

MQ: Of course, although sometimes the strict compliance with some of these international rules is impossible. For example, while in international organizations it is mandatory that interpreters work into their native language, the reality is that, to work in our market, you have to translate in both directions. Otherwise, nobody would hire you.

CL: Translating in Latin America, what do you think is the main feature of Venezuelan Spanish?

MQ: Besides the regional peculiarities or the use of idiosyncratic locutions, I think that the communication in Latin America is not at all impeded by localisms. The professional translator learns to overcome these obstacles through research. The Spanish language of Venezuela, like in other countries in the region, has also its local nuances but I think it lacks some of the richness observed in other countries of the region with a longer tradition of production and reading of books.

CL: Your Company has accompanied many intergovernmental meetings. How would you describe your feelings after your team is able to recreate discussions towards the Latin America and the Caribbean union? Is it rewarding? Do you think it could be possible without translators and interpreters contribution?

MQ: It is not possible to have a successful multilingual meeting without high quality interpreters and translators. But besides the mere professional perspective, I have been fortunate enough to practice my profession at the highest political level and at a landmark moment for Latin America and the Caribbean, where our services have been instrumental in fostering dialogue to achieve the Bolivarian dream of uniting and integrating our peoples, not only in the commercial field but socially and spiritually. I can say it has been an additional source of pride and satisfaction for me.

CL: You work as High Level Officials interpreter, including Heads of State. What is the main skill do you think is needed for this job?

MQ: Command of the languages, constant pursuit of knowledge and permanent self-update. It is also important to observe discretion and respect for the rules of the protocol.

CL: You were President Hugo Chavez’s interpreter. Do you have any special memory of him regarding interpretation?

MQ: He was an exceptional speaker, not only by the quality of his ideas, which ring true today more than ever, but by the consistency and clarity of thought, which is a treasure for any interpreter. Although the length of his speeches constituted sometimes a challenge to the endurance of any professional, he was extremely respectful of the work of the interpreter and very attentive to his/her requirements. He was mindful of the importance of translation in international events so was always careful to ensure the service to his foreign language speaking guests.

About the author: Claudia Layas is a Venezuelan English to Spanish translator who recently joined the NYCT. She has devoted her career to international negotiations and has contributed with translations mainly in Latin America. For any comments about this article please contact in twitter: @claulayas

Open Call – Interpreters Language Study

At the age of ten my school removed me from French class. “He shows problems at school, has challenges with modern languages and should be held back a year,” wrote my teacher.

My French language block changed to a tutor. They gave me supplementary classes – math and language arts. As a stranger, the French teacher would only allow me back to observe the class – not to be graded, marked or taken earnestly. Students surrounded me months ahead of my level. To pop up amongst the lessons on the past tense of être was a struggle.

Fast-forward 15 years. Currently my “languages learned” count stands at 9 – my top three languages are Deutsch, Español and 中文. Turns out there wasn’t much of a challenge but rather a hunger for languages. You can call me Andrew Carson – a language nerd, MBA degree holder, marketer and entrepreneur.

Today my tongues constantly demonstrate to me the power and relevance of other languages. As translators you have front row seats to the spectacle. Through your careers you have worked between languages. You have seen the underbelly of the beast and understand the role they play to uphold progress. Whether your work revolves around conferences or two-person exchanges, there are always thoughts to shuttle across the gap.

Now here’s where you can help me out.

Currently my energy has been focused on a set of language projects around NYC. One project looks at oral translators – at the moment they change between source and target languages. The study seeks to understand how languages are absorbed at that second and how they are processed. The project hopes to uncover common themes among translators and across careers.

So far the project has collected the anecdotes of 15 translators through casual tête-à-têtes at cafes around NYC. Many oral translators have offered remarkable accounts of how they process language already and hopefully you can too.

Do you have a few seconds to chat about your career?

Now, you’re busy and don’t have much space on your schedule to relax at a café and chat – understood. However the above paragraphs were just as hard for me to compose and work out as your schedule. The above text was constructed as a “Lipogram of I”. No letter “I” was ever used here. For the record, “is,” “interview” and “interpreter” were pretty hard to evade. For more “information,” or to “join” the study please feel free to “email” me – Andrew.p.carson@me.com

Regionalisms: Pitfalls for Court Interpreters in Varieties of Spanish

The different varieties of the Spanish language pose a major challenge to interpreters. Each Spanish-speaking country has its own accent, and accents may vary again within a given Spanish-speaking country. In addition, lexical differences add another level of complication: some specific words may vary in meaning from one country to another, while different countries may use different words altogether to refer to the same thing.

In this workshop, Anthony Rivas will review these varieties of Spanish, with special attention on how interpreters can best prepare to handle them in a legal setting.

Regionalisms
Date: Saturday, December 5, 2015
Time: 10 a.m. — 1 p.m. PST (1 — 4 p.m. EST)
Cost: $100 Register by November 14 for a 10% discount!

REGISTER

Instructor: Anthony T. Rivas, FCCI
CEUs available:
ATA 3 points; NAJIT 3 credits; California 3 CIMCE hours L 3504; Florida 3.8 CIE credits, 15-0094; Tennessee 3 FL; Texas and Washington state CEUs pending!

NCI webinars use Adobe Connect. You don’t need to download any software ahead of time to join the webinar. Watch a short video about Adobe Connect and its features here.

NCI alums: Don’t forget to use your code for an extra 10% off!
Questions? 520-621-3615 or ncitrp@email.arizona.edu.

The Translator and Interpreter Self-Help Industry

Written by Leonard Morin

Rational people, when deciding whether to become translators and/or interpreters, will assess their own strengths and weaknesses. Perhaps they now live in a country where a language other than their native tongue is spoken, they have taken foreign language classes, or they grew up bilingual; and they have excelled in both languages. Whatever the case, succeeding as a freelance translator or interpreter is not something that even the most talented linguist can take for granted. Globalization and fragmentation of the industry and the worsening labor conditions in the overall economy play an important role, but starting a business is a risk in any economy.

Many capable translators and interpreters reach a point when they have doubts about their chosen career path and ask themselves about other ways to make money with their language skills. One such way is to found an agency, catering to direct clients and taking a cut of the earnings of other freelancers who work for you, becoming a bigger fish in the food chain. Yet even this route is not without problems since the downward pressure on rates is also felt by agencies, especially the smaller ones.

The demand for our services paradoxically continues to grow. This constellation of factors has fueled the growth of a translator and interpreter self-help industry at an even quicker pace than the industry it thrives off of. To a certain extent, of course, this side industry is useful and necessary. For example, the emergence of so many translator and interpreter training programs addresses a crying need for qualified professionals. Rigorous academic training for these careers is a prerequisite whose recognition has been a long time coming. And even the most seasoned and skilled professionals do not know everything; the requisite knowledge and skills for our professions are dauntingly extensive. Continuing education is indispensable. Yet what happens if your fancy degree or certificate does not translate into employment with commensurate remuneration?

Faced with inadequate return on your investment, you may now turn to the trade literature to devise tactics to boost your productivity or find high-paying direct clients. Once again, self-education is a necessary component of any successful career in this field. There is a lot to know about our jobs and about different approaches to achieving success. But the self-help industry has a pernicious side-effect: it tends to put all the blame on the individual translator or interpreter. Since the topic is taboo, we have barely scratched the surface of some of the structural issues that stand in the way of success in this industry beyond not being good at your profession. What happens when all this continuing education, strategizing, reference material, and translation technology exhaust your precious time and money?

Although this potentially lucrative side-industry is not the product of malicious intentions that feed off of our misfortune, I believe that sometimes we have to be able to see through the hype to make the most intelligent career decisions. While we’re at it, we can contemplate the future prospects of a side-industry that, in part, thrives off of luring people into exhausting their resources.

About the author: Leonard Morin is a staff Spanish interpreter at Manhattan Criminal Court. He also translates chiefly legal documents and cartography articles from Dutch, Spanish, and German into English. He formerly served as president of the New York Circle of Translators.Leonard Morin