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Foreign Translator Career

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RE: Foreign Translator Career

Postby Salza600 » Sun 02.10.2008 12:42 am

Is there not a high demand for native english speakers in Japan? I thought of teaching english to japanese adults for a starting out job. (2000 yen an hour is the average pay for that job, or so i've researched)
Do you guys have any recommendations for good majors to go with japanese?
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RE: Foreign Translator Career

Postby gfunk » Sun 02.10.2008 1:14 am

Here's where I gotta stop you... DO NOT choose a major based on "what would get you to japan". Like... majoring in japanese. Seriously.

Well, what do you like? I mean it's a wide scope from medicine to interior design...

My recomendation of something that goes good with japanese, japan, and plans of going there: Industrial Engineering.
Plus if you end up in Germany or the US with that, you'll make enough money to party it up in japan.
But what do I know, you might hate/suck at math or something.

But belive me...(and yudan) if you choose a hard major, adding japanese is no joke.
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RE: Foreign Translator Career

Postby arbalest71 » Sun 02.10.2008 1:32 am

Mike Cash wrote:
Far from crapping on him, that was actually constructive.


Maybe it was crapping on him. Maybe that is not such a bad thing. It is best to crap on teenagers who have big dreams. The ones who have a chance of achieving them will ignore you. The rest might be dissuaded before they do something stupid. Or they might not. At least you tried.

Anyway, what Mike said is right. If you want to make money translating, concentrate on one language pair. You should only translate into your strongest language, even if you are truly bi-lingual. To do well you will need to have a specialty, and you will need to have a great deal of knowledge in that domain. At the moment medicine and patents pay best. You will need to spend a lot of unpaid hours keeping up with the literature in your area of domain knowledge.

If you want to do that for a living, the first thing you need to do is start accurately assessing yourself. You aren't doing that right now, and that is why Mike is "crapping" on you. Focus on Japanese from now on (ignore the other languages). You _won't_ be "proficient" when you graduate high school, unless you are really gifted in this area... you would have to work very hard to be so when you graduate from Uni. The average graduate of a US Japanese program is a long way from being a professional translator.

So, here's a plan, custom made for you. Get good grades so that you can go to a top Japanese program- I'd recommend UBC above all others in North America. Work a lot harder than the people you go to school with- a _lot_ harder. If you're serious about it you should be able to cover the four-year curriculum in your first year. Spend the time you save there studying mathematics and a technical field.

When you graduate find some way to get a work visa to Japan. It can be an eikaiwa job, whatever. Start job-hunting the minute you get settled, looking for a position translating in-house. You will get exploited in this job, but you need to smile and gaman. Spend a year or two doing that, while continuing to study your area of specialisation.

Then you will be ready to strike out on your own. Expect lean times at first. If the market for translators stays as it is now, you might eventually make six figures, but you'll have to work for it. If you're unlucky some weirdo scientists will succeed in making machine translation work right around then.

Anyway, if you want to translate for a living you will have to learn to write well in your target language. You will also have to have a lot of knowledge of some domain, be it medicine or patents, or... something people want. Otherwise, your skills will be a dime a dozen.

If you want to combine language and law, I'd suggest becoming a patent attorney. You could make massive coin doing that if you spoke fluent Japanese.
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RE: Foreign Translator Career

Postby gfunk » Sun 02.10.2008 1:38 am

If you're serious about it you should be able to cover the four-year curriculum in your first year.

Yeah right... even if it was for a japanese minor that's impossible.

Besides that, that's a great post, I'd take arbalest's post seriously.
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RE: Foreign Translator Career

Postby arbalest71 » Sun 02.10.2008 2:15 am

gfunk wrote:
If you're serious about it you should be able to cover the four-year curriculum in your first year.

Yeah right... even if it was for a japanese minor that's impossible.


You underestimate what people can do when they're serious. If you are really focusing on Japanese you should be able to cover the average University's program in a year. This is particularly true if you've studied Japanese for a few years in high school, as the OP seems to have. If you can't do that, I'm not sure you should aim at a career in translation. It would take decades to make you competent to translate at the rate Unis teach languages.

I was hired by my Uni's CS department in the first semester of my sophomore year, and asked to solve real problems. I had very little background at that point, and it conflicted with my double major (Chinese was the other one). The first few months of that job were worth more than the rest of my schooling, and I studied under some famous guys.

There's nothing impossible about covering a Uni curriculum in a year if that curriculum is the sort of thing that should have been covered in high school.
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RE: Foreign Translator Career

Postby gfunk » Sun 02.10.2008 4:29 am

You're right, with prior credits (being those from community college or high school) that might be possible. But 54 credit hours in a year, impossible.

The first few months of that job were worth more than the rest of my schooling

They always are...
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RE: Foreign Translator Career

Postby arbalest71 » Sun 02.10.2008 4:46 am

gfunk wrote: But 54 credit hours in a year, impossible.


Maybe. I never bothered measuring myself against credit hours.
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RE: Foreign Translator Career

Postby gfunk » Sun 02.10.2008 5:23 am

arbalest71 wrote:
gfunk wrote: But 54 credit hours in a year, impossible.


Maybe. I never bothered measuring myself against credit hours.

So you never checked how many credits you took each semester? It's logic, it's not "bothering measuring yourself against credit hours". ;)
At the largest 3 universities in the USA, the max an engineering major (of any kind) is allowed to take is 19, 24 with advisor clearance at ASU. 24+24=... not 54... so yeah impossible.

My point is, for the OP: If you consider a double major with japanese being one of them, remember you're gonna need to work your butt off. It's fun at times, but sucks at times. Just make sure you know about it ahead of time. And pick a major thats not TOO specific (that fixes you to an industry). At least at the point you're in right now, I can tell you're not 100% into any career.
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RE: Foreign Translator Career

Postby arbalest71 » Sun 02.10.2008 5:51 am

gfunk wrote:
arbalest71 wrote:
gfunk wrote: But 54 credit hours in a year, impossible.


Maybe. I never bothered measuring myself against credit hours.

So you never checked how many credits you took each semester?


My career as an undergraduate was not typical. Not entirely unsuccessful, but aberrant. My transcript gives me credit for a few classes I didn't know I had taken- my advisor would sign me up for them and I would get an A/B whether I went or not, so... I was not very concerned with credit hours at that point. Because of that, I was able to get some real work done as an undergrad.
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RE: Foreign Translator Career

Postby gfunk » Sun 02.10.2008 6:03 am

arbalest71 wrote:
my advisor would sign me up for them and I would get an A/B whether I went or not, so...

Wow, so you really went to the lowest of the low party school huh. Not even ASU is at those levels...
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RE: Foreign Translator Career

Postby arbalest71 » Sun 02.10.2008 6:20 am

gfunk wrote:
arbalest71 wrote:
my advisor would sign me up for them and I would get an A/B whether I went or not, so...

Wow, so you really went to the lowest of the low party school huh. Not even ASU is at those levels...


No, it was a big research University. My department was in the top 10 or 15 in NA at the time. My lab was top 3 in the world.
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RE: Foreign Translator Career

Postby saraLynne » Sun 02.10.2008 7:19 am

arbalest71 wrote:
Maybe that is not such a bad thing. It is best to crap on teenagers who have big dreams. The ones who have a chance of achieving them will ignore you. The rest might be dissuaded before they do something stupid. Or they might not. At least you tried.


Sorry, that's even more crap that you've fooled yourself into believing. "What doesn't kill you only makes you stronger." A nice philosophy for people who want to believe they do the world a favor by being jerks to others, because it separates the wheat from the chaff.

I agree, though, that Mike's post did have useful information. You'll note I only quoted the part about him saying the kid needed a plan, and not the whole thing. In one breath, his post said "have it all planned out" and in the next said "get to school and get a degree" with nary a word about any sort of goals he should have in regards to being a translator. It appears to contradict itself.

As for realistic goals; being 'realistic' is a highly subjective matter as it pertains to a person's potential to achieve something.

@OP-- I'm glad you did get some solid advice from people who are in a good position to give it. Mike (among others) does have fantastic information, insight, and experience. I greatly respect him and what he has to offer, even when I strongly disagree with his method of delivery.
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RE: Foreign Translator Career

Postby Mike Cash » Sun 02.10.2008 8:37 am

Why on earth should it be incumbent upon me to say anything about what sort of goals he should have? That's his business.
Never underestimate my capacity for pettiness.
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RE: Foreign Translator Career

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Sun 02.10.2008 10:25 am

gfunk wrote:
If you're serious about it you should be able to cover the four-year curriculum in your first year.

Yeah right... even if it was for a japanese minor that's impossible.


At OSU this is possible. We have a summer program called SPEAC which covers a full year of class in 9 weeks. We also have an academic-year program that covers 2nd and 3rd year Japanese in one year. You can take first-year SPEAC in a summer, then in the coming academic year take the intensive 2nd and 3rd year program, then the following summer take SPEAC 4th year, and you will have covered the basic 4 year program in a little over a year. There are a few students that do this every year, but only the really dedicated can manage it.

However, I completely disagree with arbalest's idea that if you're not some superhumanly devoted person that you're not going to make it. Personally I slacked off a lot in high school and college, and got mostly B's, with a few C's and a few A's. I didn't even really apply myself in Japanese class, of which I only took two years. But now I'm at OSU working on my PhD in Japanese. I would ignore arbalest's snooty, condescending comments about college classes and the people who take them.
Last edited by Yudan Taiteki on Sun 02.10.2008 10:35 am, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Foreign Translator Career

Postby Salza600 » Sun 02.10.2008 1:32 pm

Thanks everyone for your great replies! I've pretty much learned now that I can't just get a degree in Japanese and hope to live there. I need to add another one with it. Now that's the part that is gunna be kinda hard. I really love learning languages more than math or science or any of those other subjects. Are there any degrees that would help me get a job where I would pretty much just be speaking different languages all day ? :D

For example (don't attack me on this) : Hypothetically if I could read in write in, lets just say, Hindi, Korean, and Japanese. What could I do then? Are there certain countries that Japan associates with alot, whose language they need to know to do trading (or something else) ?
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