Hall of fame: Karen

A dedicated English to Portuguese-Brazilian translator, Karen earned a spot in our growing list of Wordsmiths this year. Her passion for music and the English language greatly influenced her location independent career in translation. She reminds fellow translators that aside from being competent and passionate, what would help you stand out from the rest is going the extra mile and doing more than what customers expect of you.  

What languages do you speak and what are your experiences with learning them?

I’m a native speaker of Brazilian Portuguese, and I can also speak English, Spanish and a bit of German. I was quite the precocious child – by the age of 3, I could already read and write, by 4 years old, I decided that I wanted to learn English, and nagged my father until he enrolled me in an English language course.

Music played a huge role in my learning journey right from the start. Michael Jackson’s “Black or White” music video made me so eager to learn English back then, for I always wanted to sing along and understand what my favorite bands sang. Passion is probably the best motivation you can have when you’re learning anything! I actively studied English even when I wasn’t in school.

As for Spanish, it was a school requirement and my father also taught me a lot. I’ve also studied German by myself, with resources like books, dictionaries, websites (Duolingo is my favorite), helpful native speakers, and music, of course. I’m a huge fan of German metal bands such as Rammstein, Oomph! and Eisbrecher, and thanks to them, I wanted to learn the language.

What are your favorite translation tools?

My favorite CAT tool is OmegaT. I also like online dictionaries such as Linguee, and Urban Dictionary is more useful than you might believe it is. Specifically for English to Brazilian Portuguese translators, the Tecla SAP website is also an invaluable resource.

What are your tips to become a Wordsmith?

What helped me to become a Wordsmith was not only doing a good job, or being online often, but most of all, going the extra mile to help the customers.

Being a preferred translator helps me access more jobs before anyone else, and I became one because I’d usually do more than what’s expected of me. For example, I made a small glossary that could help the customer and other translators keep the content translated consistently, and I gave them marketing tips and advice on promoting their products here in my country.

Since I started doing these, my workload skyrocketed, I’ve been able to make a living solely from working for Gengo, then eventually became a Wordsmith. So if you’re aiming to be a Hall of famer, being competent, passionate and helpful can make you stand out and reap better rewards for your efforts.

Want to become a Gengo translator?


Mike Staffa

The author

Mike Staffa

Mike manages translator marketing at Gengo. Based in Tokyo, he is a tech enthusiast who's been living in Japan since 2005. In his down time Mike listens to punk music, reminisces about his years in Osaka, and tries to convince his Japanese friends that Minnesota is a U.S. state they should know.

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