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Japanese translation correspondence courses

#1
Hello everyone. I'm an ALT living in rural Japan, wanting to learn about Japanese to English translation. Lately I've been looking into online courses on the subject. Searching "日英翻訳 通信講座" brings up a dizzying amount of results, many with hefty price tags, so it's difficult to know where to start. Has anyone had any experience taking online translation courses? Any recommendations? Or do you think it's better to study independently? 

Any insight helps. Thanks!
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#2
I'm curious, what do you expect to get out of such a course? I checked out some of the results from searching "日英翻訳 通信講座" to get an idea of what exactly they offer, and I don't think this is something you would really benefit greatly from as a native English speaker (assuming you are). A lot of it seems to be aimed at Japanese native speakers who would like to get into translating into English.

My suggestion is to figure out what style of translation you would like to do (business? literary? journalism? casual?) and study that style of writing in English and grab some appropriate style guides from that particular field. Study the resources you find including articles or books and style guides, practice writing in that style, and just become familiar with it. If you can find examples of Japanese -> English translations you like, compare it to the source material and figure out why you like it and try to learn from it somehow.

Once you have the style part down, start studying a bunch of Japanese -> English translations in general (even if you don't particularly find it great) to get an idea of how some things are translated. You may not be able to come up with a great translation for some particular phrase, but you might find a translation that you want to stash away in case you ever need it. Learn the common lingo of the field you are trying to get into if you can, especially if it's something like business or legal or patents or technical writings or something like that.

And lastly, practice makes perfect. The only way to really become good at translating is to just practice a lot. There's no secret that a translation class is going to teach you, I think. I think the most you can hope for is being told some common ways to translate some stuff, maybe some analysis of translated works, and instructor feedback on your own translations. The first two can be done on your own with the internet but the last can be a bit more tricky, but you could get away with a native English speaker who doesn't know Japanese to make sure everything is understandable and easy to read, and someone familiar with Japanese to make sure you're understanding/translating things correctly (can also tell you if everything is understandable, but they are probably biased a bit in my opinion).

In short:
1) Be a good English writer
2) Read a lot of translations (including their source material)
3) Practice, practice, practice
Edited: 2017-02-14, 4:17 pm
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#3
(2017-02-14, 4:16 pm)zx573 Wrote: I'm curious, what do you expect to get out of such a course? I checked out some of the results from searching "日英翻訳 通信講座" to get an idea of what exactly they offer, and I don't think this is something you would really benefit greatly from as a native English speaker (assuming you are). A lot of it seems to be aimed at Japanese native speakers who would like to get into translating into English.

My suggestion is to figure out what style of translation you would like to do (business? literary? journalism? casual?) and study that style of writing in English and grab some appropriate style guides from that particular field. Study the resources you find including articles or books and style guides, practice writing in that style, and just become familiar with it. If you can find examples of Japanese -> English translations you like, compare it to the source material and figure out why you like it and try to learn from it somehow.

Once you have the style part down, start studying a bunch of Japanese -> English translations in general (even if you don't particularly find it great) to get an idea of how some things are translated. You may not be able to come up with a great translation for some particular phrase, but you might find a translation that you want to stash away in case you ever need it. Learn the common lingo of the field you are trying to get into if you can, especially if it's something like business or legal or patents or technical writings or something like that.

And lastly, practice makes perfect. The only way to really become good at translating is to just practice a lot. There's no secret that a translation class is going to teach you, I think. I think the most you can hope for is being told some common ways to translate some stuff, maybe some analysis of translated works, and instructor feedback on your own translations. The first two can be done on your own with the internet but the last can be a bit more tricky, but you could get away with a native English speaker who doesn't know Japanese to make sure everything is understandable and easy to read, and someone familiar with Japanese to make sure you're understanding/translating things correctly (can also tell you if everything is understandable, but they are probably biased a bit in my opinion).

In short:
1) Be a good English writer
2) Read a lot of translations (including their source material)
3) Practice, practice, practice

Great advice, thanks. 
I would hope that the structure of a class would give me a foundation on which to approach my own personal study. This was helpful for me in learning Japanese, and I imagine it might be beneficial for translation as well. For example, tips on (as you say) common ways to translate certain things, common mistakes, striking a balance between free and literal translation, broadening your knowledge as translator and, most importantly, personalized feedback. As long as the subject is translation, I think I'd have something to learn, even if it's aimed primarily at Japanese natives. 
To put it simply, while I have proficiency both languages, I don't know much at all about translation and what it takes to improve. Hopefully such a course would give me a push in the right direction. 
But as you pointed out, studying independently could still be much more efficient. Do you know of any sites (or other sources) where I can find translations together with the original?
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#4
Unfortunately, no. Someone else might though. Some things you can easily find the translation and original is books or games. It might be a bit harder to source the originals of professionally written news articles or something like that.

At any rate, you will mostly likely improve even without a class as long as you keep trying to translate something and getting friends or strangers to give you feedback. So just grab a book off your shelf or a random news article and get to work! Tongue
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#5
Some community colleges and universities in the US offer translation certificate programs, like this one at the community college where I live: https://www.bellevuecollege.edu/programs...ech/trans/. Holding such a certificate makes it easier to get into something like the American Translators Association, which might help you make connections and develop business contacts. I don't know of any such courses that are correspondence, though, and I doubt whether they're even necessary.
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