Hall of fame: Gustavo

A translator in the English to Portuguese (Brazilian) pair, Gustavo is one of our Gengo Wordsmiths who has translated over 500,000 units. The Beatles’ music, as well as frequent conversations with native speakers, helped him become fluent in both English and Spanish.

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

I speak English, Spanish and Portuguese, which is my first language. I studied English at school since I was eight years old, but I also learned a lot by listening to my father’s Beatles records.

I enrolled in a private English course with a great teacher when I was 13, and continued studying until I finished high school. Then in 2005, I lived in London for one year. This experience pushed my skills to another level. Being totally immersed in an English-speaking society, watching their TV, reading their newspapers and talking to native-English speakers made me aware of many expressions I’d never heard of before.

When I returned to Brazil, I didn’t want to waste all this knowledge so I enrolled in a translation specialization course at Universidade Gama Filho, Rio de Janeiro. Here, I increased my knowledge in translation techniques, tools and areas of expertise.

At university, I studied Spanish for three years. As the language is very similar to Portuguese, I didn’t find it very hard to learn. During my time in London, I worked with many Spanish speakers and tried talking to them to develop my Spanish. In Brazil I worked as a photo editor at Getty Images Latin America and had daily calls with their offices around the country, which was great for improving my Spanish, too.

What are your favorite translation tools?

I use OmegaT for larger texts and Google Translator for short jobs. WordReference can be very helpful, too.

What are your tips to become a Wordsmith?

I think the most important thing is managing your time properly. Many Gengo translators have other part-time or full-time jobs, so it’s not always possible to find time in your daily routine to do extra work. My main jobs is a journalist and I usually work in the afternoons and early evenings, so I still have time in the mornings to translate.

Another thing I’ve learned is that it’s useless trying to push yourself too hard by working late at night or when you’re too tired. Your concentration won’t be the same, and you’ll probably spend twice the amount of time you’d normally need to finish a job. So, if possible, always try to work when you’ve rested enough and your mind is still fresh.


Megan Waters

The author

Megan Waters

Megan manages all things translator-related as Gengo’s Community and Digital Content Manager. Born in South Africa but now based in Tokyo, she’s passionate about languages and people. Megan spends her free time exploring secondhand shops, camping in the mountains and hosting the occasional dinner party.

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