Success story and serious praise
Hi Duolingo team,
I wasn't sure exactly where to put this so I'll put it here in the discussions.
I just wanted to let you know my story. I started learning German from your lessons (and, later, the translation samples) around January 2013. I had no previous background with the language other than a couple simple greetings and everyday phrases like 'Danke schön' and 'Auf Wiedersehen.' Now, not even two years later, I've become so strong at reading and writing in German that I've actually landed German-to-English translation jobs from multiple different sources, and I already find the work very rewarding. One agency has come back to me already four times with continued small translation projects for German hotels and vacation properties wishing to advertise in English. I have also begun the training for a more full-time job translating eBay listings from German to English for sellers wishing to reach English-speaking buyers. Finally, I've been scouted for a German-to-English translation project involving military vehicles. This is at least 90% due to your lessons and translation samples (the 'immersion' feature), although I've checked out a couple easy-reader German short stories to help improve my vocabulary as well.
(On a side note: I also learned French all through school and university, as well as just through living in Montréal for a little while, which gave me the opportunity to speak it on a daily basis. But your French lessons have definitely kept me sharp now that I've moved away.)
I always praise Duolingo when talking with friends about language learning, especially with regard to reading and writing, but I just wanted to tell you guys directly what a huge and measurable impact you've had not just on my casual language learning adventures but now even on my career. Danke, danke, vielen vielen Dank! Keep up the fantastic work!
With utmost sincerity, Scott Daley
This is why I love Duolingo. They offer all this knowledge for free, something rare in this day and age.
Your story is very encouraging to hear. I used to want to be a translator, but I gave up on that years ago because I didn't have the money for school.
I've wanted to learn German for years. And I really would love being a translator. I never had the resources so I just gave up. I started once again when I found Duolingo. Reading stuff like this makes me so happy and motivated! Congratulations on all your success!
I think that's really great! :) I hope if I get better about translating in Spanish it will help improve my skills (I imagine I'll start working on it harder again once I've gotten through the French tree.)
The only thing that makes me a bit... Apprehensive? Is that if DuoLingo is very widely successful, I imagine jobs heavily based in translation in the future will actually end up being crowd-sourced, and learning in hopes to become a translator will be much less a wise career goal. (Not now, but sooner or later in the future, pending on how successful it is.)
I definitely get what you're saying and I'm a little worried about it too. The easier language learning becomes through sites like this, the less valuable a skill it becomes.
Well, it's still valuable, it just becomes harder to do turn it into a career. Graphic design, journalistic photography, and many other industries have already experienced this; it looks like translation will be one of the many to go down the same route. Then people get chided for not having made wise career choices and not having living wage jobs without any recognition of how hard it is to get paid for skills the more globalized we become. :/
I mean, I could start charging below minimum wage just 'for the experience' but I still need to eat and pay rent and in that case, I might as well go back to my Starbucks job. Long story short, I totally see what you're saying. And yeah, it's the same in quite a few other fields as well, no doubt.
A lot of those same people are heavily exploited and living beneath living wages for where they live (which happens to also be a lot less money.) And it's happening in so many fields, with more visibly down the road. Television's getting pushed down by web series and whatnot, writers are having to sell their intellectual property for less than $1/pop (which doesn't matter if you're, say, JK Rowling, but most people aren't.)
It's weird/scary to see the world's job-economy changing, but the money economy not adjusting or making any plans to account for that future whatsoever. People are doing more for free/less out of necessity, but we're not in any communist utopia where money isn't necessary; things are getting more expensive, a lot of us are seeing an age where our jobs may become obsolete or less in demand, and most of us are on the wrong side of the money/job pool! XD
But for you, for now, and for hopefully another decade or two, this accessibility is working in your favor. :3 It's just... general commentary I had to make because it's where my thought goes (translators) every time I hear unadulterated love for DL. Like, I do love DL, but I see yet another industry moving into a future where very few people will be able to be paid (or if paid, paid insufficiently) for their skills.
I suppose that reality can be thrown into the "Nothing is ever truly free" think-tank. Not paying out of your pocket doesn't mean you're not paying at all. :P
Globalization is a huge factor in the translation biz from what I've seen. I'm sure I get outbid on projects all the time by people in developing countries who have just as much experience but are able to charge less because their cost of living is less than it is here in Canada (particularly Vancouver, haha).
Wow, this kind of stories gives us more reasons to continue learning languages, your story is really motivational and great. and I've a question for you ,,, didn't you use any books to help you learn German ?
This book (there's also a few others in the series) were easy to read and really helped me expand my vocabulary a little more. (There are only so many nouns that Duolingo can cram into the skill tree.) http://books.learnoutlive.com/learn-german-with-stories-cafe-in-berlin-10-short-stories-for-beginners/
Great story Scott! Thanks for sharing. It shows what determination and motivation you have. I'm glad to see you have turned translating into a contract job for yourself. Can I ask, did you start learning German on Duolingo for personal interests or did you always want to do translating? Best~
I started learning sort of just on a whim to give myself something new to do. I didn't really have career goals in mind when I started. But I did take a few career aptitude tests way back when that said translator might be a good job for me, so eventually I started thinking that might be a good idea.
That's great! Thanks for sharing. You didn't need to supplement your learning on Duolingo with books/websites to learn grammar etc. more in depth?
I did read a short book designed to help beginners learn the language better. And I'd jot down words I felt like knowing the German equivalent for and look them up on Word Reference or whatever. I didn't do much other than that but naturally, I would recommend checking out other sources if you're at all interested. Right now, I've been doing quite a bit of on-the-job learning.
Thanks and yes, I have :). I was just curious about your learning path. Best~
Congratulations, Scott! That's an inspiring story.
What were some of the German short stories you read that helped improve your vocabulary?
How did you land these jobs if I may ask? I am trying to become a translator myself.
It was honestly mainly a matter of persistence. I set up profiles on TranslatorsCafe.com and oDesk.com (I'm sure there are other similar ones out there you could also try, maybe Freelanced.com) and checking every day (or almost every day) for job postings and e-mails they send out and applying to as many as humanly possible. It actually took me several months before I found (reasonably) steady work. The thing I'm most surprised about is that people were after me for my relatively modest German skills rather than my much better French skills (maybe just because there are more French speakers in Canada and supply and demand and whatnot).
You'll also want to carefully consider your preferred rates (Translators Cafe asks for a per-word rate and oDesk asks for a per-hour rate that will show up on your profile) and adjust it based on your skill level, the desirability of the particular language pair, and other factors. Just have a look at other people's profiles to give yourself an idea of what to ask for.