How to Make A Living Using Your Language Skills

What were the first words you remember learning?

Well, think about it. The process of learning a native language is fascinating. Is language inborn or do we acquire it? When do we start picking up a language? More importantly, how can we use our language skills to make a living?

Language – Inborn or Acquired?

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Egyptian Pharaoh Psammetichus I, way back in the 7th century BC felt that a child was born with a knowledge of the native tongue. He wanted to find out whether human beings have an innate capacity for speech, and if so, which particular language is innate.” He isolated two infants who had never heard speech and had them cared for by a shepherd who was forbidden to speak. After two years, the children started speaking often repeating the word becos, which means bread in Phrygian. Psammetichus concluded “that the capacity for speech is innate, and that the natural language of human beings is Phrygian.”

Akbar, a 16th century Mogul emperor of India believed otherwise. He felt language wasn’t inborn but acquired. He isolated two children and put them under the care of a mute nurse. The children did not acquire speech. This showed that exposure to speech was necessary for a child to learn language and it wasn’t inborn as some believed.

The Linguistic Society of America agrees: Children who are never spoken to will not acquire language. And the language must be used for interaction with the child; for example, a child who regularly hears language on the TV or radio but nowhere else will not learn to talk.”

Quite a bit of effort goes into acquiring your native language, wouldn’t you say? Most of us usually learn a foreign language, English in most cases, and it is necessary. Do we however, also tap into the skill that took us years, often our lifetime, to acquire? A native language can be an asset in forming relationships, connecting with your roots and even to make a living!

3 Ways to Make a Living with Your Native Language Skills

1. Translation


Let’s start with what we do best. Translation is an art that makes best use of your language skills. If you are fluent in your native language and have studied another language, this is perfect for you. One of the requirements of a translator is that he/she needs to be a native speaker of the target language. If the requirement is translation from English to Welsh for example, Welsh would need to be your native language. Here are a few requirements you may need to meet in the translation field:

  1. Native speaker of the target language.
  2. A good understanding of the Source language (English in the example above).
  3. Expertise in the subject matter of the text to be translated.
  4. Computer Literac y

The threat of automated translation has caused scepticism around the translation industry, which has dissuaded some from getting into the field. However, here are some articles that give reasons to show that machine translation will never be able to replace human translation:

Andy Way, associate professor of computing at Dublin City University says: “There is just so much translation to be done – people have estimated that only around 5% of what needs to be translated actually is – that good translators will never be out of a job.”

“Many words do not have a direct translation, because the concepts simply do not exist in another culture,” says Nataly Kelly, author of Found In Translation, “Language reflects society’s constant evolution, which is why it’s still easier for humans to keep up than it is for machines.” 


If you are a translator, drop in an e-mail through our page, and we will get you on to our recruitment team. 

2. Transcription


Transcription usually involves putting down speech into text. From Medical transcription to penning down interviews and reports, there is massive potential in transcription. Some skills that will help you in transcription are: 

  1. Listening
  2. Typing speed
  3. Proficiency in grammar, spelling and punctuation
  4. A good ear for accents
  5. A good understanding of the subject

It would help to familiarize yourself with Transcription software. Here is a good resource to help:

3. Voice-Over


If excellent native language skills and a great voice are in your repertoire, Voice-over is right up your alley.

Wikipedia defines Voice-over as “a production technique where a voice—that is not part of the narrative is used in a radio, television production, filmmaking, theatre, or other presentations. The voice-over is read from a script and may be spoken by someone who appears elsewhere in the production or by a specialist voice talent.”

With e-learning CDs, documentaries, podcasts, audio books and more becoming vital marketing tools in the corporate world, the scope for a career as a voice-over artist has expanded. More and more businesses are looking for voice talent that can communicate their brand story to the world. Can anyone become a voice-over artist though?

Joanna Ruiz, who has supplied voices for a range of children's shows and computerised employee programmes on health and safety in the workplace, says: "A lot of people reckon they can do a funny voice, but it's not enough – you have to bring the script off the page for an audience who can't see you," That requires definite skill. Here are a few resources that can help you with it:

If you are a voice-over artist, and want to apply for dubbing projects, drop us an email and we will get in touch with you when we have a requirement.  

That was our roundup of 3 ways in which you can make a living using your language skills. We would love to hear how you have used your language skill. Drop in a comment.