Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Transcribing and Translating from France!

Christiana Asante is a self-employed French and English transcriptionist with a translator’s background. Born and raised in an English-speaking family, but educated in the French language and according to France’s education system, Christiana has been exerting herself for the past five years, using her language advantage, for the sole purpose of delivering accurate transcription and translation services to the world. She presently resides in Ghana, a West African country which is exclusively enclosed by Francophone States, and where she is able to provide her services from her own office located in the country’s first industrial city, Tema.

1. Please give me full name and contact details including email / website

Christiana Asante
P.O. Box TT 582, Tema N/T – Ghana
Office Phone: +233 22 300 267
Cell Phones: +233 28 709 1260 / +233 28 954 4008
Skype ID: Christiana-Asante
Yahoo ID: christi.translation

2. Tell us something about your background, where were you educated?

I spent most of my childhood living in the Republic of France, where I also began to receive my formal education. Just three years before the start of the new century, my family decided to settle in Ghana where I now live and render my services from, and so I came along.

3. How did you come to be a French / English transcriptionist working in Ghana? It sounds like you have a very interesting background and we’d love to hear about it in as much detail as possible here!

A couple of years ago, as I had just embarked on my translation career, I was searching and bidding for open projects on various freelance job portal sites. Because I had signed up to accept instant e-mail notifications relating to French and English translation tasks specifically, I got the opportunity to apply to transcribe a several hour French recording. Before that, I did not know about transcription and its benefits for both clients and contractors, so I had to do a brief research on the topic. That is when I learned about the different types of transcription, and that is how I came to be interested in this somewhat challenging industry. Also, it did not take me long to figure out that I could easily work as a transcriber while still living in Ghana. If it was possible for me to render translation services to individuals and agencies on the other side of the globe, then there was no reason I could not also establish myself as a bilingual transcriptionist, and thus complement my plan to remain self-employed.

4. What constraints face you regarding facilities etc in Ghana?

Ghana is still a developing country, and so as years go by, the utility infrastructures and – more importantly for me – the telecommunications infrastructure, among other things, continue to witness significant improvement across most of the regions. This is definitely good news for a person like me who relies considerably on technology to reach international markets where I can exercise my talents. But I think some of the major constraints that Ghanaian contractors face today include the lack of dependability as far as getting access to power supply. In addition to that, the cost of high-speed internet connection remains excessively high. Nonetheless, in comparison with many other African countries and developing States as a whole, Ghana can still be considered a fairly good place to outsource transcription and translation work.

5. You come across very professional, what measures do you take to overcome constraints you face in Ghana (eg when South Africa started experiencing severe power cuts, we bought lap tops, UPSes etc in order to continue being able to work).

Well, I would say the more financial resource I am able to obtain, the more prepared I become in responding to the challenges that once impeded my elevation to the stage I have managed to reach today, in spite of everything. During my early years working as a language professional, I quickly learned that in order to be successful in the outsourcing industry, I needed to take appropriate actions to make sure that I retained my clients by wholly satisfying their expectations. That in fact did not only imply returning a high quality work to them. For me, it meant more precisely giving them what they had inducted me to perform at almost any cost. So for instance, instead of accepting to contend myself with the new PC I had acquired, I decided to purchase a laptop and a fixed wireless phone that allows the use of data services even without the availability of electricity. This helps me to deal better with general power cuts, although it is worth stating that the tendency has become way less frequent these days.

6. What are the advantages and disadvantages of working as you do in Ghana?

From my personal perspective, the major benefit of being a freelance transcriber and translator in Ghana is that there are increasingly a lot of opportunities here, along with an unlimited pool of clients/customers, to leverage. If you are lucky and are able to market yourself very well, then you are set to succeed on the local market as well, rather than just focusing on foreign outsourcing companies who usually are the ones that provide the kind of jobs I specialize in. Numerous services have just lately been introduced in the country to complement the existing ones, but transcription and translation are still missing; for one, you would hardly find registered providers in the yellow pages. So it’s definitely great to know that you can become a pioneer in these fields, in this country. Just a decade ago, you would not have seen the level of growing interest among Ghanaians in translation services or even less in transcription services, because the nature of most businesses that had been established at the time did not require this type of assistance. Today, with the expansion of the private sector, the strengthening of democracy, this situation is beginning to change at a relatively fast pace. Obviously, one of the principal challenges remains that it is not easy finding the right business organizations to work in partnership with. Demand for language transcribers and translators is still unsatisfactory, and as such, hospitals seem to not realize the importance of transcription, media houses continue to be reluctant to give a try to what is considered as new products in Africa, and consequently have a feel of what transcription is all about. The solution, though, is not very hard to find: in my view, one just needs to keep marketing the products until the expected outcome is reached, like I am committed to doing.

7. Do you have kids and a family, if so how easy is it to be a transcriptionist with a family?

I presently do not have a family to cater for. Therefore, my priorities are mainly set on pursuing my formal education and on becoming a recognized pioneer, notably in the Ghanaian transcription industry.

8. What made you decide to get into the field of translating and transcribing?

I think when you are aiming at attaining a higher position, or let me say realizing greater dreams in life, you need to concentrate first on the tools that you possess and on how good you can put them to use in order to get to the stage you have set for yourself - at least when you choose ‘to climb the mountains’ all by yourself. In my case, I always had the language advantage because of my background. But that isn’t all; I have a little bit more than just the ability to speak, write and understand different tongues. I am ready to dedicate a certain amount of my time serving others as an accurate transcriber and translator so that I can pave myself the way for another career in the foreseeable future. Higher education, like I suggested earlier, is central to me, and I continue to bear in mind that the level of effort I invest today in my plans to pursue my studies will unquestionably be reflected in my achievements in the future. I opted for the transcription and the translation paths because these are the most ‘logical’ professional activities which I enjoy practicing and where I can be efficient.

9. Did you do any particular courses or studies in either of these fields?

Actually, I was never trained to be what I am, neither do I possess any qualifications in these fields. My success is chiefly the result of the motivation, the dedication, and the strong willingness to assimilate new things fast, that I have tried to exhibit throughout my years in business. I understand and perfectly respect the stance of many clients who have a preference for certified contractors, but I also know for a fact that many would rather favor meritocracy over any types of certification. The reason is that it is better to hire someone whom you know will get the job done the way you want it than to contract a person without the requisite experience. And even in the event of having to translate/transcribe too technical documents or audios that I cannot handle, for instance, I know there is always the viable alternative to refer my client(s) to trusted peers. So with respect to the difficulties I may encounter in retaining a clientele, I would say I don’t really have a problem.

10. How long have you been doing transcribing / translating?

I have been a French and English translator since 2004, and I joined the transcriber network nearly two years ago.

11. What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned in this field?

Staying persistent no matter the circumstances and thriving to improve each day on the quality of the services you provide for your clients/customers, especially after setbacks, are the biggest lessons I am happy to have learned. And of course, these don’t exclusively apply to transcription and translation, but to other fields as well.

12. Do you have any advice for transcriptionists starting out, particularly those in African countries?

Yes, certainly; for anyone planning to settle as a transcriptionist and to those who have already started the journey to earn a living doing this type of work – whatever your genuine and legitimate reason – I would like to lay emphasis on the urge to remain focused and determined to become part of a growing and exciting global network. Being based on the African continent is not the challenge we face at all to reach outside markets, because that can be done more or less easily if you are really serious about your intentions to succeed. Both financial investments and personal involvement will be required as it is the case in any other part of the world. But when you get to understand that all this is worthwhile because in the final analysis, YOU surely reap the benefits of your contribution to the further development of the two industries in question, then you realize you made the right choice!

13. Is there anything else you would like to tell us about yourself?

It is a chance that I managed to join TAVASA after searching for so long for other professionals who, like me, enjoy their work and can be trusted at various levels, especially as competent people who I can have recourse to whenever I require professional support. I am very thankful to the moderators who have enabled me to not only join the tavasa forum, but also to participate in its evolution and continuation. I think it helps to know that you belong to a group of people whom you can count on and also assist. That tells you that you are never alone in your relentless struggle to reach higher grounds.


  1. This is a very interesting and informative article. thanks Gaynor, for doing it, and Christi, for giving us your time and insight.


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