How to Improve Your Interpreting and Translation Skills

Improving language skills

How to Improve Your Interpreting and Translation Skills

We’ve all heard the saying “practice makes perfect.” This mantra can be applied to all sorts of activities, including interpreting and translation. Interpreting is the act of converting spoken words from one language into another. Translation converts written text from one language to another. While the world stays at home, what better time to enhance your interpreting and translation skills? Improving your technique will allow you to get jobs more easily and boost your resume all while having fun!


You may be asking yourself: how can I practice interpreting from home where there are no patients/clients? You actually may be surprised to learn there are multiple ways to practice alone or remotely.

One of the best ways to improve your interpreting skills is to work with a language partner. There are multiple Facebook groups dedicated to connecting people in the same city who speak different languages and want to practice with each other. By connecting with one of these people over the phone or with video chat, you can practice different common interpreting scenarios in your native and second languages.

If you don’t want to find a language partner, you can practice terminology online with websites like Quizlet. Quizlet allows you to create flashcards and quiz yourself virtually. In addition, the website contains thousands of public, pre-made quizzes and flashcard decks that you can access and quiz yourself on.

Another virtual way to sharpen your listening and comprehension skills is by watching foreign language television. If you have a Netflix account, you can access movies and TV shows from across the world with the click of a mouse. One of the best aspects of watching foreign language TV on Netflix is that you can add subtitles or closed captioning to the screen if you need additional help understanding the show. If you don’t have a Netflix account, you can access news clips and vlogs from around the world for free on YouTube. The versatility of the video streaming site means if you wanted to practice your Spanish comprehension, you can watch news from Mexico, a documentary from Argentina, and a comedy show from Peru one after another. Using foreign language video to help listening comprehension is commonly used in schools and universities to teach students another language. These real-world examples help prepare you for the cadence and speed of speech you will encounter while interpreting.


Just like with interpreting, there are many ways you can practice translation at home to enhance your skills. Also like interpreting, watching foreign language film and television on Netflix or YouTube along with practicing terminology with virtual flashcards.

One great way to practice translation is to choose a piece of text that interest you, translate it, and then input the translation into Google Translate. This will create what is called a “back translation”. Many translation agencies use this process to check for accuracy of their translation. By checking the source text to the automated translation of your translation, you can see what you parts of your translation need improvement.

In addition, another way to enhance your translation skills is to partake in volunteer translations on platforms like Translators Without Borders. Translators Without Borders (TWB) is a nonprofit organization that translates text from nonprofits and NGOs from around the world for free. TWB is a great tool because not only can you translate, but your text goes through an editor and proofreader so you can see what mistakes were made. Furthermore, you can translate on a wide variety of topics from TWB and in as many languages as you are able to translate.

Lastly, one way to indirectly enhance your translation is to familiarize yourself with computer assisted translation (CAT) tools. By learning how to use these tools, you become a faster, more efficient translator. One of the most widely used CAT tools is SDL Trados Studio. Trados has hundreds of free video tutorials on its YouTube channel and website. These videos cover all topics – setup, terminology management, troubleshooting tips, etc. Other CAT tools like MemoQ, MemSource, and WordFast have similar resources available. By learning more about your CAT tool and practicing those skills, you are able to add something to your resume to make you more desirable to translation agencies.


Self-improvement doesn’t stop just because there is a pandemic. Improving your interpreting and translation skills can be fun and help you get a job in the future. Plus, you can improve and practice right in your own house in fun, free ways!  If you are looking to become a translator or interpreter or are looking for a quote for these services, visit the Acutrans website today.