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This is a method I developed decades ago when I was always busy with a lot of work. I wanted to escape the constant lack of time.
‘Killing two birds with one stone’ is a common saying, but I find it quite valuable. Looking back, I think this principle has allowed me to achieve the life I wanted: a life where I had time to spare.
The saying means gaining two things from one action. This automatically leads to saving time. This may sound simple, but to get to that point, we must approach the problem earnestly, think about it intently, and approach it persistently (perhaps for decades).
In this post, I will present a few ways to ‘kill two birds with one stone’ in a translator’s life.
What’s the difference between translators and other people? A translator knows more than one language. His or her level of proficiency will be high enough so that he or she can convey the meaning of a certain text in another language.
This language skill is of high value for clients who need translation services—high enough that they are willing to pay for their translation services.
As you may know, however, these skills are not cultivated overnight—even years may not be enough time to develop such language skills. There is just too much ground to cover. The longer you study a language, the more you will discover that you don’t know. Even as you make progress, you will still come across new things. I think you need at least ten years to develop language skills good enough for translation.
Even if you were lucky enough to grow up in a bilingual environment, you will still need to advance your language skills to become a translator. If you are translating, for example, between Korean and English and Korean is your native language, you must hone your English. Conversely, if English is your native language, you need to hone your Korean.
By perfecting a language over a long time, a translator will develop a depth of knowledge that others will not be able to imitate easily. In business terms, this will be a translator’s core competence.
To put it briefly, continuous effort is required for a long period of time to perfect a language in order to become a translator.
We all know this. The real question is: how can I continuously work on perfecting my English (English is my second language) for a long time? The answer: by ‘killing two birds with one stone’.
It’s important to work towards your future, but it is impossible to do this all day every day. We need to rest, have fun, and recharge. We also need hobbies. This is the method I want to share with you: conduct all your hobbies and recreational activities in English (if English is your second language like me). Easier said than done, I know. But you will find a way eventually, if you put your mind to it and try out different approaches. Though not perfect, there are many ways to ‘kill two birds with one stone.’
I enjoy watching films, so all the movies I watch are in English. I even watch Korean films with English subtitles. Going to the movie theater is time-consuming, and chances are I will miss out on parts I don’t understand. Same goes for cable TV. Netflix, however, provides English subtitles and you have the freedom to pause the film and look up words and expressions that you don’t know. This way, I don’t feel as guilty for spending time watching movies and I can learn something new whenever I watch a movie. You should try it for yourself. You may feel like you understood everything, but when you watch with subtitles, you’ll come across things you missed. (It takes time to look everything up, but you will learn so much.) I know, you’ll have to give up some of the leisure aspects of watching movies, but eventually you will get used to it and this will become quite rewarding edutainment.
I also listen to the radio. The best thing about listening to the radio is that you don’t have to be tied to a desk or a screen. You can also achieve two things at once (kill two birds with one stone) by turning the radio on while you’re in the bathroom, cleaning, exercising indoors, etc. News channels are good for improving English skills. CBC is a good national radio and broadcasting channel in Canada. On the CBC channel I can listen to the news, get new information, and be entertained. They also run podcasts. There are so many good programs to choose from. If I had the time, I’d listen to it all day. You should try this out. You can access podcasts wherever you are. If English is your native language, you can improve your source language skills in the same manner.
So far I’ve mentioned ways to ‘kill two birds with one stone’ in the home, but there are things you can do outdoors as well. If something is not enjoyable for you, seek something else. What’s most important is that you keep looking for ways to save time that are suitable for you. If not, how else will you fit developing your foreign language skills into your super-busy schedule?
Do you remember the story of the grasshopper? Be like the grasshopper. He enjoyed practicing his music. Make a long-term plan to study the foreign language of your choice, stick to it, and enjoy it like a hobby and as a hobby.
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I am sure this will lead you to becoming a more competent translator.