How to Volunteer as a Translator

Written by ehow culture & society editor
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Your training as a translator opens doors to a plethora of volunteer opportunities. The growing number of international students, migrant workers and immigrants learning the English language makes a translator necessary in many situations. You gain valuable experience while helping your community when you volunteer as a translator.

Skill level:

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  1. 1

    Register with an English as a Second Language (ESL) program at your university to aid fellow students with translation. You can work with ESL students one-on-one to work through difficulties in learning English during your free time.

  2. 2

    Travel around the world while performing a public service when you volunteer as an international translator. Organizations like Kiva look for translators with fluency in multiple languages to aid their overseas efforts (see Resources below).

  3. 3

    Offer your translation services to city agencies to help neighbors without fluency in English. Municipal bodies like the Chandler Police Department in Arizona have created translator positions to assist immigrants with emergency services (see Resources below).

  4. 4

    Contact local radio and television stations to volunteer as a translator for dubbed programming. These stations need volunteers to translate emergency messages, state government addresses and other important programming for minority groups.

  5. 5

    Work with non-profit organizations with website content and publications in need of translation. International groups like the World Federalist Movement look for volunteer translators to convert published materials for consumption on a global scale (see Resources below).

  6. 6

    Combine foreign language and legal knowledge to assist immigrants at legal services organizations. You can volunteer at a local law firm to help immigrants read through contracts and speak with lawyers.

  7. 7

    Use your knowledge of foreign languages in everyday life to develop conversational skills. A brief conversation with a store owner who speaks Spanish helps you gain comfort with colloquial language unavailable in the class room.

Tips and warnings

  • Select languages that are in high demand as you learn the skills needed to be a translator. Students who gain fluency in Arabic, Mandarin Chinese or other high-demand languages increase the number of volunteer opportunities in their future.
  • Assist your neighbors with translation needs to gain experience without leaving your neighborhood. A neighbor who needs to speak with a bank representative or utility worker benefits greatly when you volunteer as a translator.

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