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Thread poster: mike kelly
Studying to become a Conference Interpreter
mike kelly
Local time: 23:12
Oct 14, 2011

Hello,

I am a native speaker of english and am considering studying a masters degree in conference interpreting with the hope of finding employment with an EU institution. I have some questions with which I hope you can help me.

1) I am now 40 years old. Is it to late for me to change career and become an interpreter?

2) In addition to English, I speak German, French and Spanish. Which of these languages should I focus on in order to maximise my employment opportunities?

3) Which schools provides the best interpreter training?

Regards
Tony


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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:12
Flemish to English
+ ...
2 cents Oct 14, 2011


mike kelly wrote:

Hello,

I am a native speaker of english and am considering studying a masters degree in conference interpreting with the hope of finding employment with an EU institution. I have some questions with which I hope you can help me.

1) I am now 40 years old. Is it to late for me to change career and become an interpreter?

2) In addition to English, I speak German, French and Spanish. Which of these languages should I focus on in order to maximise my employment opportunities?

3) Which schools provides the best interpreter training?

Regards
Tony


1.No, you have to pass a test as freelancer or an open competition in order to work as an official.
The first phase of such a competition are numerical, verbal and analytical tests.
You need to be among the xxx-best classified to pass to the next phase, i.e. interpreting.
Age is not an issue to participate in such a competition.

2.All of them or two of them. Combination ACC(C). If you choose ACC, German and French is a strong combination.

3. ETI-Geneva (very selective, many candidates), Esit-Paris (very selective, many candidates),
the University of Leeds.



[Edited at 2011-10-14 16:31 GMT]


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xxxsonjaswenson  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:12
Spanish to English
+ ...
AIIC website Oct 18, 2011

if you look at the AIIC website, there is a link for student interpreters which has a lists of the schools which teach conference interpreting. ETI and ESIT are of course the most widely-renowned, though there are many other schools throughout Europe.

English A with German and French C would be very good to get work in Europe or with the EU.


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FarkasAndras
Local time: 00:12
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Language skills? Oct 18, 2011

To get a better idea of your chances, you should think about/answer the following questions:
Do you work as a translator now? Have you done any interpreting? Are you a trained linguist? How would you characterize your command of German/French/Spanish?
Being 40 years old won't stop you from studying conference interpreting and landing a job at the EU, but being 40 and lacking the language skills would. It's never too late to learn interpreting techniques, but languages are best learned in childhood - it might be too late to bring your language skills up to the required level if they are far below it now.
I'm not sure if your age will work against you when it comes to being selected for a staff position - it might. But even then, I can't see it being a problem at a freelance test.

As a rule, the broader your language profile, the better (in the EU context). So, if your German, French and Spanish are all solid enough, you should do all three - unless you feel that your weakest language takes so much work that it impairs your performance in the other two.


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mike kelly
Local time: 23:12
TOPIC STARTER
my experience Oct 19, 2011

I have a Master of Arts in German but have never worked as a translator or interpreter. I speak very good German and Spanish. My French is quite good but needs some improvement. I now live in Geneva and am working here while studying French. Previously I have lived for 5 years in german speaking countries and for six years in Spain.
Ideally I would like to study at ETI Geneva as I already live here andmay be able to combine studying with part time work. Esit Paris is my next option.


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xxxsonjaswenson  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:12
Spanish to English
+ ...
part time work Oct 19, 2011

just a warning- interpreting school is very intense and part time work is very difficult to do. As your teachers are generally working interpreters, their schedules vary and the class schedule is at best a loose suggestion. you could maybe do freelance translations occasionally or give casual conversational language lessons to students forgiving of your schedule... but any stable part time work is very tough, not to mention when combined with visa restrictions if that applies to you...

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mike kelly
Local time: 23:12
TOPIC STARTER
Part-time work /visa requirement Oct 20, 2011

Thanks, well if necesary I could devote myself full time to teh course. I am an EU national so visa restrictions do not apply to me. For part time work I woul have been looking at something in IT, for example in the morning if my classes were schedueled in the evening

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xxxsonjaswenson  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:12
Spanish to English
+ ...
Outside work Oct 30, 2011

Depending on where you are, as an English speaker you will always be able to give casual conversation classes to individuals or families, so you won't starve. But anything more formal than that or freelance translations when you are free would be a struggle (other than maybe bartending or working at a hotel on weekends).
MAs in conference interpreting have really intensive schedules, which change a lot, and also require a lot of outside work groups between the students. Not to mention doing research, reading, watching the news, reading endless issues of The Economist...

Ideally you would work out something where you do not have to work so much to survive but to have enough extra pocket money when you have free time. Since there are periods where there is absolutely no freedom at all, you don't want to worry about whether or not you can pay the rent and eat.

At the same time, the lack of free time means you won't have much opportunity to spend money...


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James_xia  Identity Verified
Member
English to Chinese
+ ...
Go get'em, buddy! Oct 31, 2011

It's quite enlightening to hear that a man of standing 40 still has such an encourage to challenge a master's degree, even in conference interpreting with EU agencies. Go get'em and follow the peers' advices. I believe you can make it.


mike kelly wrote:

Hello,

I am a native speaker of english and am considering studying a masters degree in conference interpreting with the hope of finding employment with an EU institution. I have some questions with which I hope you can help me.

1) I am now 40 years old. Is it to late for me to change career and become an interpreter?

Tony


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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:12
Flemish to English
+ ...
The long road. Oct 31, 2011


James_xia wrote:

It's quite enlightening to hear that a man of standing 40 still has such an encourage to challenge a master's degree, even in conference interpreting with EU agencies. Go get'em and follow the peers' advices. I believe you can make it.


mike kelly wrote:

Hello,

I am a native speaker of english and am considering studying a masters degree in conference interpreting with the hope of finding employment with an EU institution. I have some questions with which I hope you can help me.

1) I am now 40 years old. Is it to late for me to change career and become an interpreter?

Tony


1 preselection test with 200 candidates, one selection test with about 40 candidates, (you get two chances to pass such a test) ,exams at the end of the academic year lasting one or two years (with about 14 of your fellow alumnae), write a master thesis, another preselection test (numerical, verbal, analytical), simultaneous and consucutive, and an assessment centre is the road ahead to become shortlisted as an interpreter on a E.U.list of candidates, who succeeded in the competition. Time-span: 3-5 years.
If you want to become a freelancer, you have two chances to pass an interinstitutional test.
Note that I don't want to sound pessimistic or optimistic. I try to give a neutral description of the hurdles you will have to take.

[Edited at 2011-10-31 13:56 GMT]


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mike kelly
Local time: 23:12
TOPIC STARTER
EU interpreter qualification time Nov 1, 2011

thanks for all the information. After a two years masters, does it really take a further minimum three years to qualify as an EU interpreter?

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FarkasAndras
Local time: 00:12
English to Hungarian
+ ...
No Nov 1, 2011


mike kelly wrote:

thanks for all the information. After a two years masters, does it really take a further minimum three years to qualify as an EU interpreter?


It doesn't necessarily take three years.
There are two ways to work for the EU: as a freelancer, or as a full-time staff interpreter.

To become a freelancer, you need to pass an interinstitutional freelance test. After you get your diploma from your interpreter school of choice (recognized by the EU), you can apply, and, if your language profile matches the institutions' needs, you get called in for the next round of freelance tests, which will probably take place within 5-12 months. If you pass the test, you can start as a freelancer right away. Of course passing the test and being put on the freelance list doesn't mean that you will be able to make a living on freelancing, but that's another story.
To become a staffer, you need to pass a competittion (concours). If you're successful, you're either offered a job right away or you're put on a waiting list. This procedure from your initial application to starting work used to take 2 years or more (even if you were hired 'right away'), because the procedures were so slow. Now it's supposed to take no more than one year. Of course you first have to wait for a competition to be published for your language profile, which could take a year or more... So if you're only interested in staff positions, two, three or five years is not an unreasonable time frame - but you can freelance in the meantime.

Someone with an intimate knowledge of the English booth could give you more relevant information, e.g. about how 'good' your language profile is for the booth and how regular competitions are, how many people are expected to be hired in the next 5 years etc. I'd think the chances are not bad, as you have what looks like a good language combination, and the English booth is going to need a lot of new interpreters (many staffers will retire over the next 10 years). Of course "not bad" chances are relative... in most booths, there is fierce competition for a tiny number of full-time positions. As far as I can tell, about 1/4 of candidates pass the freelance test on average at best, and even fewer candidates pass the concours.


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Wolf Kux  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 21:12
Member (2006)
German to Portuguese
+ ...
Try this ... Nov 1, 2011

... to get experienced in interpretation:

Get a headset;
Open a speech recorder on windows;
Select a news channel shown, for example, on youtube in your source language;
Listen carefully such channel and speak ("interpret") on your target language every word you hear from this news channel.

After finished, you could start youtube again - without its sound - but listen to your recorded voice.

All such "instruments" (voice recorder, video reader, etc.) are included on almost every windows system.

Hopefully, you start getting a lot of errors, and correct hem on the next exercise ! After the 5th or 10th repetition / exercise you could find out your strongholds and your weakness, and may become more confident.

Remember that a lost phrase is nothing more, nothing less than a lost phrase. Forget it, hear the nest phrase and translate it. If the listeners did not understand something related to the lost phrase, they'll ask the speaker about it.

Same as Ronaldinho & alli: if he looses a goal, he tries to get the next goal.








[Editada em 2011-11-01 19:16 GMT]


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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:12
Flemish to English
+ ...
No Nov 2, 2011


mike kelly wrote:

thanks for all the information. After a two years masters, does it really take a further minimum three years to qualify as an EU interpreter?


I meant a time-span of two to three years from the admission tests at interpreters schools to the 1 or in the case of the interpreter schools your are aiming at- 2 years' training to the freelance test at the E.U. (2 chances) to a competition-if there is one in the year you graduate.
If you pass such a competition, you are on a waiting list. That's why I estimated 3-5 years before reaching your goal if all goes well. From scratch to staff.
From scratch to freelancer takes one or two years depending on the school you are admitted at.




[Edited at 2011-11-02 10:31 GMT]


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mike kelly
Local time: 23:12
TOPIC STARTER
thanks Nov 3, 2011

ok, thanks for this explanation

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