Faces of Gengo: Kathleen

An American Fulbright scholarship winner and part-time writer, Kathleen hones her German language skills by translating in her spare time. In this interview, she uses her way with words to share some sage advice to new and aspiring Gengo translators.

Nationality: American of Scots-Irish, German, Polish, & Slovak ancestry
Location: Phoenix, Arizona
Occupation: Part-time freelance writer and closed-captioner for the hearing-impaired
Gengo translator since: December 2015
Language pairs: German to English, German to British English

What languages do you speak?

English and German

If you could be fluent in any other language, what would it be and why?

Italian, for its beauty and musicality.

Do you have experience living in other countries? If so, where?

Germany; I had the great good luck to win a Fulbright scholarship to Munich and a separate fellowship to study in Tübingen.

“The view from the second floor of my house.”

On a scale of 1 to 10, how much do you enjoy being a translator and why?

10, because it requires a relaxed yet highly alert knife-edge of concentration, “dancing” in the liminal space between two worlds at once!

How has translating for Gengo impacted your life?

It has made me even more grateful for my highly flexible schedule, allowing me the fun of translating in the middle of the night!

translator workspace

“My unconventional workspace. It’s where I normally do my work on my laptop, sitting up.”

When you were growing up, what did you aspire to become?

I wanted to learn about everything, and try my hand at everything!

What quote do you live by?

“The world is so full of a number of things, I’m sure we should all be as happy as kings.” by Robert Louis Stevenson

Name three of your favorite translation/language learning tools.

Leo German-English Dictionary, Linguee, and streaming radio programs from Europe.

Recommend three of your favorite language-related books/films.

I recommend the books, Let Stalk Strine by Afferbeck Lauder and Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss, and the film, The King’s Speech.

What would you say are the three things you enjoy most about Gengo?

The chance to learn about new subjects all the time, the opportunity to hone my language skills, and the flexible scheduling.

translator hobby

“Two favorite hobbies combined in one picture: training Ellie, my rescue dog by the backyard pool where I swim in hot Arizona.”

What advice would you give to new or aspiring translators?

Take a playful approach to language, rock back and forth or dance while searching for that elusive phrase. Engage both sides of your brain. Never work so hard you forget the sheer joy of words.

What advice would you give to your 18-year-old self?

Salvador Dali’s advice: “Have no fear of perfection—you’ll never reach it.”

Want to become a Gengo translator?


Jenie Gabriel

The author

Jenie Gabriel

Jenie creates and coordinates content for Gengo's marketing team. Originally from the Philippines, she was an advertising creative in Singapore before moving to Tokyo. In her spare time, you’ll find her wandering around the city or planning her next escapade.

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