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Tips for Learning a New Translation Tool

Learning a new translation tool Tips for translators

Do you use translation tools?

No, I don’t.

This was the answer from more than 50% of respondents to my poll on the use of translation tools.

The results of the poll were based on the responses of more than 50 sworn translators and interpreters from Serbia. Although the sample size is not large enough to make generalizations, the responses do beg the question: why are translators reluctant to apply translation technologies in their translation practice?

More than 60% of my respondents said that they have difficulty learning to use them. The steep learning curve is simply not worth the hassle.

I harbored the same worries during my studies, so I can relate to my fellow translators. But one point needs to be stressed. CAT tools are developed with linguists in mind. You do not need to be a Silicon Valley-type of tech geek to be able to master them.

If you have had the same thoughts as my colleagues, here are some tips for learning a new translation tool to help you on your road to a more tech-savvy translation career.

1: Get formal training

Most translation tool providers have training programs. The formal training they offer is one of the most efficient ways to learn a new translation tool.

These training programs, like the Memsource Certification Program, contain comprehensive and systematic know-how and guide you through the step-by-step process of mastering a specific tool.

Formal training by translation tool providers is adapted to your level of knowledge. Basic level courses give you an overview of options and functions while the advanced level courses help you become proficient in using more complex functionalities.

2: Leverage the resources on offer

If for any reason you cannot attend formal training, you can learn a new translation tool by watching tutorials, videos, and webinars. You can find these resources on the translation tool provider’s website, help center, and even their social media pages.

You should also go through help documentation and tips and tricks articles. They contain more detailed information on the various functions of the tool.

Last but not least, community forums are a great place to ask questions, learn more about a specific tool and connect with the community of users all around the world.

3: Organise your learning process

Translation tools can have complex functionalities developed for advanced level users, not only for linguists but also for project managers. I admit that they can be slightly off-putting to beginners. However, don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to learn all there is to know right away. Simplify the learning process by mastering the basics first.

Here are some fundamentals every beginner should be familiar with:

  • A basic understanding of the interface of the tool.
  • How to create translation projects (importing translation files, translation memories, and term bases).
  • How to open translation projects, deliver them, and how to export translation files to their target format.
  • The basic user actions in the translation editor (confirming a segment, searching a translation memory and term base).

4: Attend workshops in your town

The internet, with its limitless resources, gives us the opportunity to learn almost anything we want. Although e-learning has its advantages, it does have one disadvantage. Your computer is your only learning partner. You are on your own.

At traditional workshops, however, you are surrounded by your colleagues who are facing the same challenges as you. You can help and support each other. The face-to-face interaction with your teacher and peers creates a unique sense of community you cannot develop in any other way.

I recently attended a Memsource workshop in Belgrade organized by Prima prevodi translation agency. I had an amazing time, learned useful tips and tricks, and I met wonderful colleagues. I recommend attending translation tool workshops if you get the chance.

I hope these tips and tricks encourage you to take on the challenge of mastering a translation tool and start using it in your daily work.

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 Author: Milica Dragićević
Author: Milica Dragićević

Milica is an English to Serbian translator specializing in the localization of medical device documentation. She also writes about the dynamic and ever-changing world of translation on her Prevodilaštvo translation blog.