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I have four years left of college and want to be a conference interpreter - what can I be doing now?
Thread poster: halesd
halesd
Spanish to English
+ ...
Oct 15, 2008

Hi... fairly simple question. I'm in my second year of college, majoring in Spanish, French, and Russian, and I plan on pursuing an advanced degree in interpreting after I graduate (fall '12), and my ultimate goal is to wind up at the UN.

(Long shot, I know, and I'm not turned off to other options - I'm just preparing for UN-style interpreting.)

I already speak Spanish well enough that I feel I could interpret roughly from Spanish to English - but I'm not sure how I should go about this. Are there any programs for people who speak the language, but are new to interpreting? Books, CDs, podcasts, websites? I'm not afraid to spend the money necessary to build a skill as useful as this one, but I would prefer something cheaper - I am a broke college student, after all.

Thanks!


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Jonathan Faydi  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 20:59
Dutch to French
+ ...
Focus on your languages Oct 15, 2008

Hi,

You still have some time ahead of you so I would advise you to focus on your language skills (Spanish, French and Russian) and maybe spend some time in countries where these languages are spoken. You will have all the time to learn interpretation techniques when you enter an interpretation school later.

And don't forget to enjoy it!

Jonathan


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Christina Courtright  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:59
Spanish to English
+ ...
agree - language first Oct 15, 2008

One of the frustrations I encounter when teaching court interpreting is the lack of solid language skills. You just can't learn proper interpreting techniques if you're not *really* fluent in the languages involved. So get really good at the languages and then the interpreting techniques can be layered on top of that. It never works the other way around. In conference interpreting, the words will have to just pop out of your head as you go along, so they'd better be there in the first place

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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 19:59
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
"Live" the language Oct 15, 2008

You don't say what you're planning to do in your holidays (vacations if you prefer). My recommendation would be to spend each and every one immersed in the Spanish language - try to spend at least one summer in Spain, plus time in other Spanish-speaking countries.

I'm sure you could find some sort of job to cover your expenses (although it may be easiest to use English eg teaching). The really important thing is to only speak Spanish during your leisure time - don't do what some of my French students have done ie stayed in a London youth-hostel and migrated towards French-speaking groups in the evenings, whilst using the same repetitive phrases during their working life in bars. So, go for a flat-share where no-one speaks English. The harder you make it, the more you'll get out of it.

Remember that on your way to the UN you will probably do some work in police stations, courts etc where you'll need to be up to speed with the sort of Spanish that isn't easily found in dictionaries and probably isn't taught at Uni.


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halesd
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks everybody! Oct 15, 2008

I've laid out my next few years something like this -

Spring '09 - Still here
Summer '09 - Argentina. Finances and scheduling mishaps are causing me to forego an entire semester immersed in Spanish, but I'm signing up for a study abroad program that will immerse me for a summer. Also, Spanish is my strongest language after English, so... as much as I would like a year of immersion, I think I can make 3 months work for me.
Fall '9-Spring '10 - Back at school, working on prerequisites, trying to better my language skills as much as I can, and preparing my French for...
Fall '10 - Studying French in Paris for a semester.
Spring '11 - Back in the United States, but...
Fall '11-Spring '12- MGU in Moscow. This is my weakest language, so I'm going to need the year.

Thanks for the advice!


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Päivikki Eriksson  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 20:59
Member (2008)
Swedish to Finnish
+ ...
A way of practising Oct 16, 2008

I once came across this site: http://www.palabea.net/. Haven't tried it myself but it looks fun!

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halesd
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Cool! Oct 17, 2008

Päivikki Eriksson wrote:

I once came across this site: http://www.palabea.net/. Haven't tried it myself but it looks fun!


I looked into it, and have signed up and already made a few friends.

Thanks for pointing it out


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Jonathan Sanders  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:59
While you're in the States... Oct 17, 2008

Hi,

I just wanted to give you some ideas of what you can do while you're still in the States. Obviously, it's not enough to just be fluent, you also have to know information on a range of subjects.

First of all:

1.) Read, read, read, read all you can in your foreign languages. There are tons of Spanish, French, and Russian daily newspapers which are available on-line. Make sure that you underline words you don't know and look them up, or at least think, "How would I say that in English?"

2.) Read, read, read, read all about subjects which will come up over and over again, such as international politics, diploma, agricultural policies (i.e. CAP) and economists. I read the Economist, Foreign Affairs, and Actualidad Económica, for example.

3.) Watch TV, listen to music, talk with friends who are native speakers of the language. http://www.wwitv.com has broadcasts from many countries, including Russia, France, and most Spanish-speaking countries.

4.) Keep a word book, where you write down interesting words and their translations.

5.) Don't neglect your mother tongue (often people don't have a good enough command of even their first language at all of its registers). Make sure you're attentive to new cultural trends.

6.) It wouldn't hurt to do debate classes, and do things like crossword puzzles or even comparative literature. A big part of interpreting, beyond the language, is analysis--just understanding the other person's ideas. Classes like that would help you, and a debate class, would force you to hone your public speaking skills.

And when you do go abroad...

6.) Don't just take language classes. Language classes as a general rule, are not enough to become an interpreter, because they only go superficially into the language. Take classes in law, history, economics, sociology or anything else so that you are regularly exposed to various registers of the language.

Hope that helps you and hope to see you in a few years (the UN is clamoring for English-native interpreters with Russian, and if you have Russian, French and Spanish, and are good, you are worth your weight in gold).

Take care and good luck!


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Anima Arei
Russian Federation
Local time: 21:59
Russian to Spanish
+ ...
I think that Argentina is not the best place Oct 17, 2008

halesd wrote:

I've laid out my next few years something like this -

Spring '09 - Still here
Summer '09 - Argentina. Finances and scheduling mishaps are causing me to forego an entire semester immersed in Spanish, but I'm signing up for a study abroad program that will immerse me for a summer. Also, Spanish is my strongest language after English, so... as much as I would like a year of immersion, I think I can make 3 months work for me.
Fall '9-Spring '10 - Back at school, working on prerequisites, trying to better my language skills as much as I can, and preparing my French for...
Fall '10 - Studying French in Paris for a semester.
Spring '11 - Back in the United States, but...
Fall '11-Spring '12- MGU in Moscow. This is my weakest language, so I'm going to need the year.

Thanks for the advice!


I really doubt about Argentina. It's not a proper place to train normative Spanish (as I understood, your goal is UN). Accent of Rio de la Plata is very specific and the grammar has some deviations as well.
My ex-chief studied Spanish there. For "domestic" interpretation and excursions he was good enough, but he was dismissed because of his specific Argentinian accent: other Latin people miran de reojo al acento rioplatense.
No speech about UN. They certainly would need the normative language.
The Latins accept the Mexican manner of speech as more or less neutral -- the dubbing for Latin America is made in Mexico.
Except Argentina -- they dub even Spanish films.

To be a Russian interpreter you would need at least two-three years in MGU or MGLU.

[Редактировалось 2008-10-17 17:00]


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Jonathan Sanders  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:59
Just a few corrections Oct 21, 2008

Anima Arei wrote:


I really doubt about Argentina. It's not a proper place to train normative Spanish (as I understood, your goal is UN). Accent of Rio de la Plata is very specific and the grammar has some deviations as well.


That's actually incorrect. Every single Spanish country has its specific vocabulary, and Argentina is no different. However, it can hardly be considered a marginal or non-standard variety, and many interpreters in the international organizations (Geneva, Vienna, Brussels, Washington) have Argentinian accents. In any case, it doesn't really matter what accent he speaks in, but rather if he can understand Spanish and turn it into comprehensible English.


My ex-chief studied Spanish there. For "domestic" interpretation and excursions he was good enough, but he was dismissed because of his specific Argentinian accent: other Latin people miran de reojo al acento rioplatense.
No speech about UN. They certainly would need the normative language.
The Latins accept the Mexican manner of speech as more or less neutral -- the dubbing for Latin America is made in Mexico.
Except Argentina -- they dub even Spanish films.


Again, that's not really accurate. What's important about an accent is to be widely understandable. The Spanish booth has people with Carribean, Catalan, Mexican, and yes Argentinian accents. All of them speak in an understandable way although with their particular touches. In the English booth, the same thing happens as well. Some people use British vocabulary and others use American vocabulary, but are able to understand one another and make themselves understood. I haven't heard of Spanish films being dubbed in Argentina. Even Spain doesn't dub Latin American films, and that's saying something because they dub everything.

To be a Russian interpreter you would need at least two-three years in MGU or MGLU.

[Редактировалось 2008-10-17 17:00]


Yes, but he's not going to be a Russian interpreter.


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Aymeric de Poyen Bellisle  Identity Verified
Switzerland
Local time: 19:59
English to French
+ ...
Argentina would be great Oct 22, 2008

Anima Arei wrote:

I really doubt about Argentina. It's not a proper place to train normative Spanish (as I understood, your goal is UN). Accent of Rio de la Plata is very specific and the grammar has some deviations as well.
My ex-chief studied Spanish there. For "domestic" interpretation and excursions he was good enough, but he was dismissed because of his specific Argentinian accent: other Latin people miran de reojo al acento rioplatense.
No speech about UN. They certainly would need the normative language.
The Latins accept the Mexican manner of speech as more or less neutral -- the dubbing for Latin America is made in Mexico.


I always thought that you only interpret into your mother tongue at the UN... and given the variety of accents you will get to interpret, actually you'd better go for the country with the accent which is the most difficult to understand for you at the moment.

[Modifié le 2008-10-22 09:32]


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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:59
Flemish to English
+ ...
TV-newschannels... Oct 23, 2008

I switch daily between:

France24.com in English (and French). This does not apply for you, but President Sarkozy is a good speaker, except when he is at his best (TGV-speed).
You can compare between the orginal and the interpretation.
When Sarkozy delivered a TGV-speech at his party's gathering in Toulon, the interpreter spoke slower.

BBC world and
CNNi are good channels for practise

En cuanto al español : TVE y Canal24

(DW (deutsche Welle) et ARD

Vesti/RTR (Russian TV-channels).

You could try to interpret speeches delivered by heads of state.


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Greg Feehan  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 21:59
Russian to English
+ ...
Wherever you go... Oct 23, 2008

Just remember to get out and meet people! When you study abroad through an American organization (whether it be ACTFL, your own University, GlobalExchange, etc. etc.) it's very very difficult to break free from the American-Bubble of study abroad and to meet friends. Sadly though, it's imperative if you want to be a better speaker.

Although it's silly, I reccomend thinking of hobbies and activities you do at home that you can do overseas. When I studied in Russia, I knew I couldn't solely rely on my language to make friends. So... I brought my trombone! Found a band, joined, and next thing you know I'm drinking Baltikas (8, конечно) and surprisingly surpassing all of my classmates in language-gain.

You just gotta' get out there! Good luck to you!
(Also, how do you plan on studying at МГУ? There are other schools and programs in Russia, some of which may be better suited for you and your language acquisition).


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Cristina Perju  Identity Verified
Romania
Local time: 21:59
Spanish to Romanian
+ ...
Hello there, Oct 27, 2008

3.) Watch TV, listen to music, talk with friends who are native speakers of the language. http://www.wwitv.com has broadcasts from many countries, including Russia, France, and most Spanish-speaking countries.

I just wanted to thank you for this website, I've been looking for something like this for ages...and for the other info as well.

Cheers,
Xtina


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