How This Former Teacher Uses Transcription to Help ESL Students

Uncategorized Jul 23, 2020

You can do it. You, reading this blog. If you want to, you CAN do it. 

That’s the lesson for today brought to you by Brooke. Brooke is a graduate of the General Transcription: Theory & Practice course with a background in Japanese and teaching. So how did she end up being a successful transcriptionist working from home? 

Read on to learn how Brooke leveraged skills she already had to advance beyond an unexpected roadblock and build a business she enjoys while working from home.

Tell us a little about your background and what your life looked like before TA

If someone asked me if I had a knack for language, I would emphatically say I don't. If someone asked me if I had the personality to teach, I would say never! But despite all that, I studied Japanese and got my TESL certification in school.

After graduating college with my degree in Japanese language and culture and a minor in English as a Second Language, I moved to Fukushima, Japan to assist in teaching English to elementary and junior high school students and to continue learning and using Japanese. 

I had an amazing five years working abroad! I would have continued my adventures overseas if it wasn't for a sudden change in my health. In the last year of my teaching contract, it became extremely difficult for me to continue teaching, so I headed back home to the States as soon as my contract was complete.

With a teaching and language background, what made you decide to learn transcription?

For a year, I tried working part-time at a retail store as a change of pace. When my health didn't improve, I started looking for online work options. I came across a website with a list of rewarding remote jobs, and that's when I first learned about transcription. 

The phrase "listen and type" grabbed my attention. I had taught myself touch typing years before and loved writing on the computer, so I began researching transcription jobs and possible courses for transcription. That's when I found Transcribe Anywhere. Janet's free mini-course was a great foot in the door, and after completing it, I was ready to commit.

What were the most valuable things you learned in the course?

Nothing is as frightening or impossible as we imagine it is, especially when we get help along the way. When I started the general transcription course, I was so confident I'd fly through it. I was humbled very quickly. The training was hard work, and it tested my commitment. I thought I knew English grammar and punctuation. After all, I had taught it! 

But I stuck through the course, even though it took six months longer than I anticipated. After I finally earned my certificate, I was so thankful I had taken the training. The encouragement and support from those in the course made it much easier to stick with it.

How long did it take you to find your first job? Do you subcontract or have your own clients?

In January 2020, a little more than two weeks after I completed the course, a TA grad, Katherine, reached out on the graduate Facebook group and said she was looking for a transcriptionist. I was nervous because I had tried applying to some transcription companies and had not passed the transcription tests, but I went for it. And I'm so glad I did because now I work as a subcontractor for an amazing business owner!

I have also found some unlikely clients on an English learning platform. I usually help learners with their conversation skills, but I also found some that want scripts for English YouTube news videos. They said watching those videos is a great way to increase their English listening comprehension, but most videos don't have subtitles, and if they do, they aren't 100% accurate. So I've been able to help in that area. 

Do you have any advice for someone thinking about becoming a transcriptionist? 

Transcription is far more than just "listen and type" like I originally thought. It takes skill and experience, and both take time to gain. But if you have the circumstances for it and you enjoy active listening and grammar and punctuation, go for it! The possibilities for enriching and rewarding work as a transcriptionist are endless.

What do you think it takes to be a GOOD transcriptionist? How about a GREAT one?

In my experience so far, I would say time and perseverance makes a good transcriptionist into a great one. As much as I wish I was a great transcriptionist now, I know that it will take time to hone my skills. So for those who want to be the best transcriptionist they can be, see this journey as a long but fulfilling one. 

What’s your favorite thing about being a transcriptionist? What about your least favorite?

My favorite thing is the window of experience, opinion, and knowledge I get to peer through. I appreciate the voices I am listening to as I transcribe them. I learn so many interesting things and see things from new perspectives. 

I also love the flexibility of transcription tasks. I can fit it around my volunteer hours, household responsibilities, and other work I may have. I can't wait to make transcription my only line of work!

My least favorite thing in transcription work would be bad audio. Nothing makes my shoulders drop more than pressing play on a file and hearing static and choppy conversations. But I always have the option to take on a file like that or pass it on! This is the only small con I can think of when it comes to transcribing!

What is the greatest strength that YOU personally bring to your transcription career?

My intrinsic motivation can push me through even the most tedious of tasks. It helps me divide work up into manageable parts, and it makes the whole process fun! I'm motivated to keep trying to become a faster and more efficient transcriber.

Does anything keep you awake at night?

Do you ever get a nagging feeling after completing something and sending it off? The voice that insists that you definitely missed a big typo in your work? It's that little voice that sometimes bugs me after I finish a file and send off the transcript. It's all the "what if I forgot that?" thoughts. 

What success moment are you most proud of so far? What is the next goal you are excited to work toward?

In the short time I've been a transcriptionist, my favorite moment has been completing the Transcribe Anywhere course. It is a moment that I can draw on when I need confidence to reach out for more opportunities as a freelancer. I am interested in becoming a legal transcriptionist as well, so the legal course on Transcribe Anywhere is on my horizon!

In Conclusion

If there is one thing to learn from Brooke’s experience it’s that you can do whatever you put your mind to, whether it’s navigating around an unexpected roadblock, building your skills, or running a business. Thank you, Brooke, for sharing your story with the TA community!

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