Faces of Gengo: Damien

We’re excited to welcome Damien, another dedicated Gengo Wordsmith to our hall of fame roster. One of our English to French translators, he started learning English at a young age through video games and movies. Now a full-time Gengo translator, he shares some of the perks of freelancing and offers tips to those who would like to take the same path.

Nationality: French
Location: Châtellerault, France
Occupation: Full-time professional translator
Gengo translator since: September 2014

The view from his home in France

What languages do you speak?

French, English, a little Korean

If you could be fluent in any other language, what would it be and why?

I would really love to be fluent in Korean. I learnt it for five years but didn’t practice for a long time. I love the country, its culture and the complex history of the peninsula.

On a scale of 1 to 10, how much do you enjoy being a translator and why?

I would say 9. As a freelance translator, I feel really lucky to have a flexible job I enjoy doing. There are unavoidable challenges but I’m generally contented.

Damien’s workspace

How is your experience translating for Gengo so far?

When I started working for Gengo, I had a hard time finding jobs, even if I was using a good RSS tool. But after accepting a lot of small jobs and getting high scores, I became a preferred translator. For many months now, I’ve been translating full-time for Gengo and I manage to earn enough to pay my bills.

Name three of your favorite translation/language learning tools.

I use Trados regularly and Linguee can be a powerful translation ally. I also change the language of Wikipedia articles from English to French to check movie titles, particular devices, abbreviations, etc.

Recommend three of your favorite language-related books/films.

I love “Star Wars” not only for its characters, but also for the way they communicate with each other. “The King’s Speech” is interesting too, because despite his disability, he learned how to deliver an important speech. I also like “Windtalkers”, where the Navajo language was used as a secret code during WWII because the Japanese were unable to translate it.

What advice would you give to new or aspiring translators?

Some translators on online forums might advise you to ignore low-paying jobs, but when you’re a new translator with a 0-word-translated career, don’t hesitate to work on these small jobs. If you do a good job consistently and become a preferred translator, there would be more interesting projects for you in the future.

What do you do in your free time?

I’m a movie buff and I have a big collection of movies from all over the world. In the photo below, I’m holding DVDs imported from India, South Korea, and an Italian movie from the 70s. On the screen is a rare Korean movie and I have various box sets of U.K. TV shows, Jean-Luc Godard’s movies, and samurai movies.

His international movie collection

What quote do you live by?

In the movie, “Escape from New York”, the main character quotes Alphonse Karr: “The more things change, the more they stay the same”. I think it means if we really want change, we have to do it ourselves, instead of depending on someone who promised to do so.

What advice would you give to your 18-year-old self?

Think and reflect on what you really enjoy doing and what you really wish to become in the future. Don’t do things because you want to impress others. Do things that make you happy at the end of the day.

Want to become a Gengo translator?


Jenie Gabriel

The author

Jenie Gabriel

Jenie creates and coordinates content for Gengo's marketing team. Originally from the Philippines, she was an advertising creative in Singapore before moving to Tokyo. In her spare time, you’ll find her wandering around the city or planning her next escapade.

  • Pierre Becquart

    Bienvenue à Damien !… and thanks Jenie for your crispy portait making our team more human and tangible. Question: Damien being from France, did he also have to get his Gengo qualification for fr-CA (like I did)? The pairs to fr-FR do not seem to be available yet. I am Belgian, have limited understanding of the fr-CA specifics, but like Damien, I managed to qualify for fr-CA… using generic French seems to be acceptable to the Canadian examiner. Considering the facts that a) Gengo now has fr-Fr natives on board (at least myself and Damien) and b) the market for fr-FR translations is significantly larger, would Gengo be prepared to add fr-FR to the available pairs in the qualification process? My opinion, the existing qualification tests do not need to be replaced even if it would make sens to have subjects that are not specifically Canadian. We all would benefit from opening the market to more opportunities. Amicalement de Belgique. Pierre

    • Hi Pierre! Happy to hear you enjoyed the blog post :)
      We already offer an EN>FR (European French) language pair, which is the one Damien translates for, but the tests are closed at the moment. We open and close tests based on availability and customer demand, and that’s likely the reason why you haven’t seen them yet :)

      • Pierre Becquart

        Thanks Lara. So, at this point, Gengo does not need (additional) EN>FR translators, is that what you are saying? Does not sound good for my future with Gengo… I thought I found a motivating professional platform :-) Friendly from Belgium.

        • Not exactly, Pierre. What I mean is that *at the moment* tests into FR are closed. But this does not mean that depending on volume and projects, or on number of active translators, we will never open testing again. Quite the opposite, we open and close tests depending on the factors mentioned above, so it’s very possible that we will open them again in the future. We just can’t predict when this will happen ;)

          • Pierre Becquart

            OK got it. I will try to keep on checking the availability of the tests. Or can I register to be noticed? Not sure it makes sense for me to retry the PRO level in fr-CA (first attempt failed just under the wire).

          • If you go to the Tests page you will see a couple of lines under the drop down menu, which will tell you where to register to receive a notification once we open the tests.

            And yes! By all means, I’d recommend giving the Pro test another try! You have 3 chances in total.

            Best of luck!

          • Pierre Becquart

            Merci Lara. Bonne semaine à toi. Pierre

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