Wanting to embark on the interpreting/translating career in London
Thread poster: AgnieszkaBjk

United Kingdom
Polish to English
Sep 10, 2009

Hello everyone,

I am Polish, 32, and have got a Magister title in German Philology from a university in Poland. Whilst still studying in Poland, I did some interpreting between German and Polish and have really enjoyed it and thought of taking it up as a career. However, straight after graduating, I found myself in London and have been here ever since, and needless to say that I couldn't carry on with that here. On arrival, my English was just enough to get me by but it has improved since then and I want to seriously try to see if I can be succeessful at Polish/English interpreting/translating now after I have not been getting the expected satisfaction form what Iam doing currently. As said, I've got no qualifications in English except for the passed Cambridge Proficiency Examination five years ago.
I am thinking of starting on my journey by taking the Metropolitan Police Test, as it doesn't consume much time, to establish how I do at that and to see if this idea has got any sense at all.

Is there anyone who has had similar dilemma of taking up interpreting/translating at a relatively late age of 32 with not much previous experience in the area? Any suggestions on what's the best way to start on that, is the Metropolitan Police Test a good idea, or is there any other type of qualifications I could get fairly quickly? I would appreciate any advice.



~Ania~  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:22
Polish to English
+ ...
A few words... Sep 11, 2009

Hi Agnieszka,

There is absolutely nothing wrong with embarking on a new career in your thirties or even forties. If you really dislike your present job then go for it. However, make sure that this type of work is right for you.

If I were you I would seriously consider going on a course to learn the different interpreting techniques (unless that was already covered as part of your studies). The Met test is an all day exam, which comprises of six separate tests. You need to pass all six. Most people fail the sight translation and/or simultaneous interpreting parts. You are unlikely to pass first time round unless you are sufficiently prepared and have acquired the necessary skills. The test itself may not consume much time, as it's just one day out of your life, but the preparation for it certainly will.

Once you pass and start working, bear in mind that police interviews, in particular, can be quite demanding, as everything is being taped and the questions, and answers are coming thick and fast. No one is going to wait for you while you fumble around for the right page in your dictionary or try to recall a particular word, or expression – and you need to interpret things as accurately as possible without any delay.

Aside from any qualifications, you need to have a very extensive vocabulary and be familiar with the required terminology. You also need to be able to cope with the travelling, the long hours, being called out to a job at very short notice, interpreting for people who are hostile, sometimes aggressive or who are slurring their speech under the influence of alcohol, or drugs. As a public service interpreter you will find yourself in a variety of circumstances and situations, some of which can be distressing, such as seeing victims of domestic violence shortly after they have been assaulted. It is one thing to read about an incident in the paper, or hear about it on the news, and quite another to talk to the victims and their families, hear the gruesome detail, which you have to interpret faithfully, and accurately. You need to be able to remain calm and non-judgmental when the person for whom you are interpreting breaks down or starts shouting.

On the plus side, it can be a very interesting job. When someone says, “I am so glad that you’re here”, it can really make your day.

Hope the above gives you some insight into what being an interpreter actually entails and good luck with your exam, if you decide to take iticon_smile.gif

[Zmieniono 2009-09-11 17:53 GMT]


Tasshaa Springord
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:22
English to Amharic
+ ...
Build up your terminology Sep 11, 2009

Hi Agnieszka,

I started at a later age as you. Taking the Community Interpreting course is the best way to learm the terminology in the various services and also to learn about the issues involved in Interpreting-Legal, ethical..etc.

You will get a certificate and Level 3 is the minimum most agencies accept. The Mary Ward centre in Holborn, London, is the known course provider.

They do have Community Translation course too. They are 3 months long and mostly one saturday or two evenings a week attendance.

I hope this helps.

[Edited at 2009-09-11 20:24 GMT]


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