Free Translation English to Spanish Guide: Choosing a Spanish to English Translator

This is Part 3 of the Free Translation English to Spanish series on choosing a Spanish to English translator. Click here to return to Part 1. (Were you looking for a free online Spanish translation?)

How to choose a freelance Spanish translator - Part 3

Translation samples and tests

When deciding whether to hire a particular translator, perhaps the most important thing you can do is to check the person's actual translation work.

Ask the translator to send a sample of past translations (be sure to ask for both the original text and the translated one and have the translator tell you which is which). Many translators will also complete a free test translation -- 300 words is a reasonable length.

In the case of a Spanish to English translator, you may be able to evaluate the sample translation yourself. If you are selecting an English to Spanish translator -- and Spanish is not your native language -- then ask a native Spanish speaker to assess the translator's sample for you.

For important translations, get samples or tests from multiple translators, and then have your evaluator compare them. This gives your evaluator more context for forming an opinion.

Checking the translator's work in this way seems like a lot of trouble, but for important Spanish translations, it is definitely worth it. In our experience, the translators who have the best credentials and applications are often not the ones who perform best on a translation test.

A professional translation degree is a positive sign. It means that this person has invested some time and completed some studies. But it doesn't mean that she has any talent as a translator.

"Translation is a craft. You have to be able to analyze and synthesize, to do both. Basically, it’s rewriting something."

- Eva Obregon, Spanish to English Translator.

More advice from Eva in the Free Translation English to Spanish Guide



Credentials and references

Speaking of translation degrees, we would recommend looking either for someone with professional studies or with several years of translation experience. Just speaking English and Spanish is not enough. A translator needs to be able to take information from one language and express it properly in another one.

There are certain types of mistakes commonly made by amateur translators which a good professional translator can avoid. For example, amateur translators often are overly influenced by the wording and structure of the original text. They use similar words in the target language. But these similar words are not always the most natural choices in that language.

"I mostly do marketing materials, brochures, and journalistic texts, and in that sort of translation, you definitely have to rewrite – you can’t just literally word for word translate everything."

- Eva Obregon, Spanish to English Translator.

More advice from Eva in the Free Translation English to Spanish Guide



Translation is a craft which requires specialized skills, and for important translations, you should look for a professional.

Ask the translator for a CV. Ask the translator for professional references... and then contact them. Find out from past clients if they were fully satisfied with the quality of this person's English-Spanish translations and with the overall collaboration. Was the translator professional, easy to reach, communicative? Did he or she show the proper subject matter expertise? Was all work delivered on time?

Be careful: many translators will list professional organizations such as American Translators Association (ATA) on their CV because they are a member of those organizations. This means only that the translators have paid a membership fee. It does not necessarily mean that the translators have been certified by the organizations. If you are looking for a translator who has been certified by ATA in a certain language combination, check to see if the translator you're considering appears in ATA's list of approved translators, or ask the translator for a scanned copy of his or her credentials.

Return to Part 1 of this article: Languages and Location

Return to Part 2 of this article: Subject Matter Specialization

Related Free Translation English to Spanish Guide Articles

Free Translation English to Spanish Guide: How to Choose a Translation Agency

Free Translation English to Spanish Guide: Spanish to English Translator Prices

See all pages in the Free Translation English to Spanish Guide


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