• Jun 29, 2020

Learning Bites/2: 3 CAT Tool to train for free as a newbie translator 

by Michela Sammarone


More and more translation faculties around the world are offering translation technology modules in their curriculum, providing students with CAT tool theory and exercises.

As a fresh graduate you might have learned the basics about CAT tools from your professors or just heard about it for the first time now that you are starting working with clients.

Whether you are still feeling unexperienced or just want to add a new CAT tool to your skillset, here are a few tips to get hands-on training.


First of all, what are CAT tools?

CAT tool stands for computer-aided translation tool.

Yes, okay, but what does this really mean?

Whether through a computer app or as a service in the cloud, a CAT tool is a software that will help you translate faster and better.

How do CAT tools work?

Whenever you translate a piece of content, all translations are stored in a database called translation memory (TM).

If you happen to translate similar content again, the translations you have previously stored in the TM will be retrieved through the Concordance feature, suggesting the translation. This will help you translate faster and achieve consistency in terms of syntax, style and terminology.

Why should you use CAT tools?

CAT tools will make your work as translator a lot easier, will help increase productivity and achieve ever better quality through consistency and embedded quality assurance features.

How many CAT tools are out there and how many should you master?

The list of CAT tools available on the market gets bigger and bigger year after year.

The good news? Most of them have similar functions, look and feel. Once you get familiar with one CAT tool, it will be quite easy to switch from one another.

How do you get familiar with CAT tools?

Sign up for free versions

Watch available trainings online

Create dummy projects to learn on the job

Which CAT tools offer free trials or free versions?

Many CAT tools offer free trials and free basic versions. We recommend to start from the three CAT tools listed below and then extend your knowledge based on your needs.


Memsource offers life-time personal edition to occasional and newbie translators. This version allows a maximum of 2 files for translation at a time and includes all the basic functions you will need to train as a translator.

You will simply need to create your dummy project with an empty TM, upload your file and start translating.

When creating your project, you can also select an MT engine to try out your post-editing skills on content pre-translated by engines including Amazon, Google and Microsoft.


Smartcat offers computer-aided translation features at no cost for freelancers. Their cloud CAT editor doesn’t need installation, however make sure to work with a reliable and fast Internet connection.

Again, machine translation engines are available to use for a rough copy or to train your eyes on different MT outputs and assess MT suitability to specific subjects and contents.

We recommend to watch their free webinars for a quick start on their tool.

SDL Trados

While SDL Trados needs no introduction among industry experts, it’s worthwhile to remind that their suite is available for a 1-month free trial.

As this is a time-limited free version, we recommend to schedule some time beforehand to watch their comprehensive Beginner guides and videos and practice immediately after on a few dummy projects before working on actual projects with clients.

Have you tried these or other CAT tools for training purposes? Would you recommend other platforms?

Don’t forget to share your tips and help other newbie translators get the most out of CAT tools.


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