Skills: The 4 factors affecting a translator’s translation speed

Skills: The 4 factors affecting a translator’s translation speed

Translation speed is one of the 8 assessment criteria for a translator at AM Vietnam. The translation speed is influenced by 4 main factors: background knowledge, language skills, text processing skills and communication skills. These are also the 4 main translation factors that a translator needs to practice and improve over time. This article will look at these 4 factors in more detail.

The 4 factors affecting a translator’s translation speed

#1. Background knowledge

Background knowledge means all the knowledge of a translator of different areas of expertise such as marketing, legal, finance and medical. In fact, newly graduated translators often severely lack in background knowledge. This knowledge issue is quite knotty and cannot be overcome in a matter of days. It takes some translators between four and five years, equal to the time it takes for someone to complete a university course, to do so.

In order to shorten this period, apart from approaching and aquiring knowledge through translation projects, translators should regularly read articles and publications on relevant areas of expertise to actively take in new knowledge. Solid background knowledge is the key factor helping translators to confidently receive and rapidly complete specialized translation projects.

Skills: The 4 factors affecting a translator’s translation speed

#2. Language skills

Language skills include listening, speaking, reading and writing skills. If an interpreter needs to be particularly proficient in listening and speaking skills, for a translator, reading and writing ones are very important. No matter how good your background knowledge is, if you cannot listen well and speak fluently, it’s very hard to do an interpreter’s job. Likewise, for a translator, the ability to read, understand and analyze source sentences, along with the ability to express things clearly and in an easy to understand way in the target languages plays a crucial role, particularly in the legal field, where sentence structures are usually complex. Reading-writing skills are arguably the ones that can make or break a translator.

To hone these two skills, you need to read a lot to reinforce our analytical and logical thinking skills. Along with that is the regular writing practice, which can be simply done by paraphrasing what you read according to our own understanding and in your own language. By doing that, you can improve your reading-writing skills more quickly, and your translation speed will also be improved as a result.

#3. Text processing skills

Text processing skills include both typing and document formatting skills. There is nothing worth mentioning if you are handed a document in a beautifully formatted MS Word/Excel format. But if the handed document is a hard copy, with quite a high degree of repetition, you’re gonna need to convert/digitize the document or process it before the document can be translated. In such case, someone with good document formatting skills will be the one who can quickly get the job done.

Also, try comparing two translators with similar language proficiency, then the one with the faster typing speed will be able to get the job done earlier.

#4. Work communication skills

The last but by no means least important skills are work communication skills. Communication is the exchange of information, verbally or in writing. At work, communication is essential to ensure clear information, requirements and job instructions, and to ensure project progress as well as problems and situations that arise will be timely reported and effectively settled, so that the work can be completed quickly. So, practice your communication skills today.


Above are the 4 key skills that dictate the translation speed and ultimately the success or failure of a translator. If you don’t have these skills yet, or your skills aren’t quite good, don’t be discouraged. Practice these skills today and you’ll be successful one day.

Skills: The 4 factors affecting a translator’s translation speed

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