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Can I be a successful proofreader if I don’t speak American English?

Transcript Proofreading students:

While there are a lot of areas that overlap among the “varieties” of English, this course is designed to train you to proofread for American-English court reporters who create verbatim records from words spoken by primarily American English speakers.

In addition to spelling, grammar, and punctuation rules particular to American English, there are idioms, word use, and other idiosyncrasies unique to American English to look out for.

This isn’t to say that non-Americans can never be successful proofreaders for American court reporters — non-native American-English speakers have been successful at court reporting! — but if, as a proofreader, you aren’t highly familiar with both written and spoken American English, you may struggle. You may miss things you had no idea were mistakes. You may not be quite as helpful to a court reporter as a seasoned American-English speaker would be, and you may find it more of a challenge to secure work — especially over the phone.

You are welcome to enroll in Basecamp and Jumpstart to further assess your aptitude, but please proceed with caution if you choose to enroll in the rest of the course.

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  1. That’s absolutely the case, Caitlin. One of my primary court reporting clients is a native Russian speaker. She scopes her own transcripts, and I proofread them. Her transcripts are a thing of beauty. I know via her example that “it’s possible,” but a non-native English speaker is going to need to work “that much harder” in order to be competitive in this field of endeavor. I appreciate that you focused on “keeping it real” in this post — but then again, you always do, in my experience. 🙂

    1. Thank you, Sarah!! And thanks for chiming in with this experience. You have a lot of valuable input and are very generous with sharing it. We all appreciate it very much!

  2. Hi Caitlin, I would very much love to do your course and pursue on-line legal proofreading in the near future. However, I live in New Zealand and I wonder what your thoughts are on the prospects of working from this region of the world please? I am a bit disappointed about your comments on non-American English speakers being at a disadvantage, although I quite understand and it’s great that you are up-front about that. Is it worth me pursuing this dream? Thank you

    1. It’s not impossible, and we actually do have students and grads from your corner of the world. 🙂 But you do have to be able to make the switch to American English. Spellings and idioms are the two big ones that come to mind, but there are also differences in the way Americans use punctuation among other things. One of the great things about Jumpstart is that it can let you know if you can master those details without investing in the full course. Check out the details here.

    2. Hi Sylvia,
      I am also from New Zealand and wondered the same thing. I am currently studying towards a Diploma in Editing and Proofreading at the New Zealand Institute of Business Studies, but am really interested in learning more about transcription proofreading as a niche. Did you end up going ahead with the course? How did you find it? Thanks 🙂

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