The Linguist

The Linguist 52,5

The Linguist is a languages magazine for professional linguists, translators, interpreters, language professionals, language teachers, trainers, students and academics with articles on translation, interpreting, business, government, technology

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Page 29 of 35

OPINION & COMMENT First steps One year on and the translation business moves to India for summer JULIA GRAHAM s I write, the nights are starting to draw in, my T-shirts have been replaced with Sarah Lund jumpers, and iced smoothies are quickly losing their appeal: summer is coming to a close. Not one to turn down a challenge, I decided to spend my first summer as a freelance translator on the road. While colleagues in the UK were resisting the sun tempting them outside, I was braving the Indian monsoon for yoga boot camp. Before I left, I made sure that my laptop (I carry out my day-to-day work on a computer) was ready to go, installing necessary programs such as memoQ. I tried to pack light but I did not feel I could leave without my sturdy portable hard drive, the notebooks I use for planning and storing webinar notes, and my favourite go-to grammar and style books. Perhaps I was being a little optimistic about how much work I would be able to do. Given the frequent power cuts, the unbelievably slow and unpredictable internet service, and the lack of time on my hands, I finally decided to accept only small proofreading and editing projects. I was disappointed that I was not able to help out a direct client, but they were, fortunately, very understanding and happy to work with me when I got back. I picked up a few useful tips along the way for travelling with your translation business: • Take your business card folder with you (or, better still, use the CardMunch app or store your contacts' details in your electronic address book). I was glad I had brought mine when I was asked to recommend colleagues in other language combinations. • Invest in external batteries or rechargeable battery cases for your electronic equipment. There is nothing worse than having both A 30 The Linguist your smartphone and laptop run out of battery during load-shedding. • Apps are your friend; use them. I have only recently jumped on the bandwagon and discovered how valuable Pagemodo and Buffer are for scheduling Tweets, LinkedIn updates, and Facebook profile and page posts. Even if you are busy or away, you can keep your business momentum going. • Be realistic. Is it worth paying to go on holiday if you spend all your time working? It was hard for me to admit it but taking a break can make you more productive and motivated when you return to the office. If you do decide to make it a working holiday, schedule your days just as you would normally so that you get your work done without missing out on all the fun. It is hard to believe that this is my final article in the First Steps series. Looking back at the first instalment, I was in a rather confused place. I was not even sure if I wanted to take the in-house or freelance route. In many ways, the decision was made for me by the lack of in-house positions in the UK, but I know already that I made the right choice. The lifestyle might not suit everyone and if you get a buzz from other people in the office then this is perhaps not for you. To keep my sanity and make sure I speak to someone other than my CAT tool, I make sure that I socialise and plan sports activities in the evenings and at weekends. Nevertheless, I cannot help but love the freedom that freelancing gives me, the power I have to make my own business decisions and the pride I feel when I see my business grow and when I receive positive feedback from clients. One of my biggest problems is mentally switching off from my work (and physically switching off the computer). I really hope you have enjoyed following me on my journey thus far. Let's keep in touch. OCTOBER/NOVEMBER TERESA TINSLEY The silly season ended early for languages in the press, as the abysmal A-level figures – French down 10 percent, German down 11 percent – sparked headlines in the broadsheets. 'Foreign Languages in Freefall' cried The Telegraph, 'Probe into Languages Teaching as Pupil Numbers Continue to Fall' wrote The Independent, while The Guardian reported that students were 'shunning' French and German in favour of science and economics. The story, with its appalling implications for university language departments, made the front page of The Observer and sparked a number of comment pieces. In The Telegraph, Frederick Raphael wrote that today's youngsters were missing out on one of life's pleasures and, in a wonderful turn of phrase, said that languages 'give the mind a change of clothes'. David Bellos in The Observer thought that Britain risked turning into a nation of monoglots, although he noted – rather bizarrely – that 'the present cabinet is the most polyglot in recent history'. His article attracted more than 1,000 comments online. Writing in The Telegraph, MEP Daniel Hannan saw the A-level figures as 'a rational market adjustment', saying that students were making sensible choices in turning away from French and German. However, with an inconsistency worthy of Glenda Slagg in Private Eye, the GCSE results made a vastly different set of headlines. From The Telegraph's 'Ministers Hail Revival of Foreign Languages' to the Standard's 'EBacc Promotes Rise in Language Studies' we were encouraged to believe that the government had already solved the problem and that nothing more needed to be done. Finally, it was good to see Professor Yaron Matras's research on multilingualism in Manchester make headlines in a number of papers, including The Express. Matras has revealed that Manchester is Western Europe's most linguistically diverse city – for its size – with 200 languages. Teresa Tinsley is Director of Alcantara Communications;

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