Perfecting Your Translation Skills

Perfecting Your Translation Skills

March 17, 2016 Work At Home - Starting Out 0

The Institute of Translation and Interpreting (ITI), the UK’s leading trade association for professional translators and interpreters, keeps an up-to-date listing of translator and interpreter training courses run by universities and other institutes. You can reach ITI at or call +44 171 713 7600.

In Malaysia, translation courses are available at the Malaysian National Translation Institute Berhad or ITNMB. ITNMB is an official body undertaking translation, interpretation and transfer of information into various languages at the national and international levels. It offers translation, multilingual interpretation and publishing services. There are also translation courses available for the employees of the public and private sectors.

ITNMB also provides full-time and part-time training for translators by organising general translation courses and translation workshops regularly. All courses and workshops are conducted in Bahasa Melayu.

The objective of the courses and workshops is to enable participants to adopt the concept and techniques of translation, which are comprehensive, up-to-date and professional. The courses also provide a better understanding of the actual usage of language and the transfer of language and terminology. 

The courses are suitable for those who will be involved in the fields of language and communication (publishing, broadcasting, journalism, public affairs, advertising, etc.), language teachers (Malay language, English, Mandarin, Tamil, etc.), those who are retired or approaching retirement, and those who have free time and are interested in writing.

To qualify for the courses, participants must be proficient in at least two languages (for example: Bahasa Melayu and another language or English and another language), have at least the SPM certificate with credits in Bahasa Melayu and English with at least two years working experience.

ITNMB also offers courses in subtitling and advanced translation.

Translators who wish to do translation work may get in touch with companies which need translation services such as publishing, broadcasting, advertising and public affairs companies and also public sectors as well as ITNMB itself.

ITNMB, which is working towards setting up an institute of translators whereby accreditation can be given to translators, can be reached at Wisma ITNMB, No. 2, Jalan 2/27E, Section 10, Wangsa Maju, 53300 Kuala Lumpur (Tel: 03-4149 7210, Fax: 03-4143 2939 and email: Participants can register online for the courses and workshops by visiting the website

Translators who hold certificates issued by the institute can certify translation work, especially translated documents such as birth and other certificates.


If a translation is poorly done, it is too expensive at any price; if well done, it is usually worth every single sen.

Any translator will know that a professional translator has no “standard” rate for translation work. There is no blanket rate to cover all situations.

Translation rates depend on independent variables such as target language of translation, difficulty of subject matter, length of document, turnaround time, translator’s current workload and other technical factors (formatting requirements, excessive metric conversions, source document legibility, etc.).

Translating a document full of technical details is completely different from translating a newspaper clipping.

Nevertheless, the general trend is to go by what is referred to as the market rate, which usually ranges from 10 sen to 30 sen a word depending on the variables. Some translators charge by the page; for example, between RM30 and RM90 per A4 page of translated text typed in 12-point font.


Being a freelance translator can be extremely rewarding indeed, both financially and emotionally. But it is hard work to get established.

It may be a good idea to identify a market sector that is poorly served by other translators. Translators can build up expertise in the areas of finance, banking, software, management and marketing communications to offer clients in these fields a range of translation services.


As a translator, you must be careful not to make the most common mistake made by amateur translators, which is, to resort to word-for-word, verbatim translation without paying heed to semantics, logic or context.

This approach generates problems, especially between two languages with different grammatical and syntactical properties.

Good translators will welcome feedback from their clients. Feedback, good or bad, will help you to improve your work and you will eventually establish yourself as a good translator.

Related article: Translation – Turning Words Into Cash