Life after teaching English, what next? A guide for our bilingual English teachers looking to pivot to translation

 | Teaching House Nomads Blog

Teaching English is a rewarding and exciting experience, but there may come a time when you find yourself wanting a new professional challenge. Maybe you’re tired of lesson planning. Maybe it’s the class schedule that’s gotten to you. No matter the reason, you find yourself looking at your future wondering, ‘What next?’

That was me 15 years ago. While teaching English in Spain, I found myself wanting a change of pace and desiring to use the language skills I gained while living abroad. I had started freelance translating on the side while I was teaching, and I quickly came to realize that in translation, I was finding my true passion, one that had a promising future. I stopped teaching to order to translate full time, and a few years later in 2012, I went on to cofound a translation company, Curl Translations, which, today handles over 60 language combinations for clients all across the globe. 

Read on to find out about transferrable skills, the growing translation industry, and our online course, Teacher to Translator. It is inspired by the many expats we’ve met living abroad standing at that same crossroads, looking for their next move. This course will give you the information and skillset you need to confidently pivot to translation.

Leveraging the English skills you’ve acquired from teaching ESL 

ESL teachers possess a unique skillset that naturally aligns with the demands of the translation profession. First, in order to teach English as a second language, you need to understand the intricacies of the English language itself. This is of utmost importance in translation. Yes, knowing a second language is required to translate from one language to another – but it is just as important to be able to write well in your native language, at a professional level. The quality of your translation is only as good as the quality of your writing in your native language. 

In addition to your above-average knowledge of the English language, your ESL experience has likely also familiarized you with concepts such as idiomatic expressions, phrasal verbs, and word collocations. You’ve likely taught these concepts, and seen how non-native English speakers have trouble understanding them. The ability to recognize these grammatical and linguistic nuances makes you well-equipped to properly handle them in translation.

Cultural sensitivity

Teaching English as a foreign language has allowed you to experience cultural differences first-hand. You may be lucky enough to be teaching English abroad, immersing yourself in a culture and a language that are completely new to you. If you didn’t go abroad, but rather taught English to foreigners in your home country, you’ve gotten the chance to form bonds with students from all over the world. 

In either scenario, you are given the opportunity to see the way different cultures and languages shape understanding. You’ve likely seen situations in which an innocuous gesture or phrase in one culture can be uncomfortable or offensive in another, such as kissing a stranger on the cheeks, slurping your noodles, or addressing an elder in the informal ‘tu’. Cultural awareness is a critical aspect of translation. When translating content, you’re not just changing words from one language to another. You’re translating cultural concepts, and you must ensure that your translation is culturally appropriate and resonates with your target audience. Your experience recognizing cultural differences can be a remarkable advantage when presenting yourself as a translator.

The growing demand for translation 

According to Yahoo Finance, in 2022, the global market for translation software and services was estimated at $57 billion, and that number is expected to grow to over $84 billion by 2030. In today’s interconnected world, businesses and organizations need to communicate with diverse international audiences. This means that clients need translation services for everything from marketing materials and legal documents to product descriptions and clinical studies. Your skills in bridging language and cultural gaps can be a valuable resource in this global landscape. 

Making a successful career transition 

Convinced that translation may be in your future? Pivoting from teaching English to translation is an attainable goal, but it requires learning a new skillset and familiarizing yourself with how the translation industry works. 

We have developed a course specifically for this purpose. The course is called Teacher to Translator, and it is a self-paced, online course for English teachers (and all other language lovers) who have acquired a second (or third) language and are looking to explore a career in the translation industry. This course provides real-world insights and shares tips from experts on how to get started as a translator and how to find and keep clients. It prepares students to be able to navigate everyday scenarios in the translation industry.

The course is applicable to any language pair, and in it we discusses the practical/business side of translation, not linguistics or theory-based translation. At the end of the course, students are provided with a Certificate of Completion and are invited to our LinkedIn group, which facilitates networking with others in the translation industry, while also serving as a forum of peers to discuss relevant topics.

Find more information here, along with a 15% off coupon code!

Coupon: PB2024

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