Studying never ends for a translator

I used to think that once I became a translator, that would be it. I would be a fluent reader, writer and speaker of Japanese, and I wouldn’t need to study anymore. I was wrong.

I’ve been a translator for 16 years, but I’m still studying. I study for exams in my specialist fields. The exams are all in Japanese. I specialise in cosmetics, skincare, marketing and tourism, but at the moment, I’m focusing my study on cosmetics and skincare.

I’m using these books for the Cosmetics Meister and Skincare Meister exams. I hope to pass these exams this month.

Then in November, I have another cosmetics exam. I’m going to take level 2. I should have taken it earlier in the year, but it was cancelled due to COVID-19. I’m using these books.

Shortly after that exam, I’m going to take the Cosmetics Ingredients exam. I’m aiming to take level 2, and am using these books.

Next year, I’m going to take a beauty-related pharmaceuticals exam. These are the books I will use.

And, as if that is not enough, I’m going to take level 3 on a pharmaceuticals exam! I’ll use these books to study.

I’ll take the higher level exams the following year. And somehow, I’ll fit the French and Chinese tests in!

Learning multiple languages at the same time

Photo by Julia M Cameron on

When I was studying Japanese, that was all I focussed on. My goal was the highest grade on the JLPT (Japanese Language Proficiency Test), and I dedicated all my spare time to that goal.

At the moment, I’m learning Chinese and French simultaneously. At the beginning of the year, I decided to learn two new languages every three years for ten years. I want to pass the highest grades on tests of each of the languages.

But…I’m feeling myself being pulled by other languages…Italian, Spanish, German, Korean, Russian… They are all on my ten year list, but I don’t want to wait that long!

Someone I follow on Twitter is learning around ten languages at the same time. The person is taking exams in each of the languages, albeit at the lower levels. I am wondering if I should do that. Or am I just being attracted by the idea of learning something new. I tend to multi-task, so I think this is just my personality. Do I do what I did with Japanese and go narrow and deep, or go shallow and wide? What do I want? A basic knowledge of a lot of languages, or a detailed knowledge of a few? Hmm….

I am also studying for a few licenses and exams in my specialist translation fields. These are all in Japanese. I plan to take six of them over the next year, so I’m already studying a lot.

Maybe I should stick with just Chinese and French at least until I have passed the intermediate levels on the tests. I’m still learning the basics, especially in French, so it’s an important time. I need to concentrate, but still…. 🙂

Change of plan

I started my language journey with an ambitious study plan. COVID-19 has forced me to alter my plans. I have to spend every spare minute I have on my businesses and studying for qualifications in my specialist translation fields, so….that leaves little time for language learning.

I hoped to take exams in French and Chinese this year, but it doesn’t look like that is going to happen. The ones I hoped to take have been cancelled anyway. So, I now plan to take HSK4 (one step higher than 3!) next April, and 3rd graded on the French exam next June.

The tests in my specialist fields are all in November and December, so I will devote most of my spare time in the rest of the year studying for these. They are all in Japanese, so at least I’ll maintain my Japanese skills.

I’m not giving up on Chinese and French or my 10 languages in 10 years study plan. I will study when I can, and try to make use of any spare moment I have to study languages.

Last night before I went to sleep, I did some extensive reading with my Easy French Reader. It had been a while since I studied French (a few weeks anyway), but I could understand most of what I read.

So, I’m not giving up, I just have a change of priorities!

21st April 2020 – Japanese

I finished reading Chocho Senkyo, so now I have read the whole series about the crazy psychiatrist and his nurse by Okuda Hideo. I enjoyed the series – it made a change from the dark 1960s murder mysteries I usually read. I do my Japanese reading before I go to bed, but for a while I might read some English books. Reading in English, my target language, is also important for translation.

Total reading time: 30 minutes