Devaki Kunte

Head of Operations

Language Services Bureau

More about her here

Translation training in India

Language Learning and Translation Courses

India writes in various scripts and speaks in many languages! With a multitude of language families, dialects and local languages, the country is truly multilingual – every Indian knows at least 2-3 languages and therefore language learning comes naturally to us. But there are not many who aspire to learn another regional language, due to the current perception of lack of any immediate career benefits. Graduate and Post-graduate Degree Courses are available throughout the country in Hindi and regional languages, though seldom where the regional languages are not spoken locally.

Foreign language training and teaching is popular and easily available – there are foreign languages that have been taught for more than 100 years in India! Similarly, Graduate and Post-graduate Degree Courses in international languages are accessible throughout the country in all major metros, along with Degree/Diploma courses in Translation and Interpretation.

Indian language translation courses however are not as widespread – courses are available in Hindi and English and also some Indian languages at IGNOU, NTM, etc. but most cover literary translation – they are not up to date with the current industry standards and practices. The actual requirements of the profession, considering the advancement in technology and daily work specifications are seldom covered as part of any courses for translation in India.

Since there is no entry barrier in the profession, many start translating without any actual training or background and go by the understanding that since they know both languages, they can translate. This is however far from true since translation involves much more than language knowledge – an insatiable will to learn and know, research for understanding, honing up on expression skills, computer and software knowledge, etc.

Though those without formal language education can manage well in translation, it is surely beneficial to have some kind of guidance in the field so as to be able to work on projects better.

Some Experiences in Translation Training

The Rajya Marathi Vikas Sanstha (RMVS) Mumbai introduced a basic Marathi translation course in 2019-20, after detailed planning in association with Marathi language experts and language companies. As part of the professional team, it was interesting for our company, Language Services Bureau (LSB) to actually be part of the planning and training process – various topics like current industry status, language, research, CAT tools, project management, etc. were included in the course, apart from an internship. Of the 20 odd trainees selected after an entrance test, on completion of the course, at least 20% have started working in the language industry full time using the practical skills imparted and a professional approach.

Around 3-4 years back, LSB launched a short-term introductory course in translation including a basic background of the profession, theory, practice in translating texts from many fields, CAT (Computer Aided Translation) tools, research tools, online resources , localization, and an internship which helps the trainees put in practice what they learnt during the course. This course is held on a quarterly basis for translation from French, German, Spanish, Japanese, Portuguese, Italian, Hindi and Marathi into English. Though most applicants train for foreign language translation, we sensitize them on the number of opportunities available in Indian languages – thankfully, we also have many trainees choosing to work in Indian languages nowadays. It is also a very heartening fact that many of our trainees have actually started working on projects for us and other clients on a freelance basis professionally.

In 2020, we also introduced an Intermediate course in translation which stresses on introduction to theory and more practice in about 8-10 different domains including Media translations in above languages.

Once this kind of course is completed, its applications are variegated as we also touch upon DTP and formatting, sub-titling, transcription, transcreation, literary translations, localization, etc.

We hope that more and more language enthusiasts as well as those from other professions and streams can use their language skills in the various applications of languages like translation, interpretation, localization, training, etc. with the help of such sensitization courses in translation.

Upcoming changes in the Indian linguistic panorama

As per the National Education Policy 2020, there is a renewed impetus for learning in Indian language studies right from the school level, and it has also proposed an Indian Institute of Translation and Interpretation (IITI), which might help alleviate the current gap in availability and requirement of trained and professional Indian language translators in a few years.

I hope language education and its practical applications become a more respectable and lucrative career proposition for language enthusiasts in India in the near future!