Do you need to be bilingual to work as an interpreter?
Thread poster: chatterjee88

chatterjee88
India
Local time: 23:32
Member (2015)
English to Bengali
May 10, 2014

Hi there,

Hope all of you are doing good. I have a question for all of you as I have no better knowledge about it. My cousin has completed his M.A in ancient history. And planning to researcher in the UK. He is very proficient in English writing, reading. But he can't speak English good. He wants to do part time interpreter job in UK.


Now my question is: In interpreter job is it necessary to be a bilingual in speaking?


Please help me to learn more.


Thanks


 

Karen Stokes  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:02
Member (2003)
French to English
Information May 10, 2014

Your cousin might find this article helpful https://nationalcareersservice.direct.gov.uk/advice/planning/jobprofiles/Pages/interpreter.aspx but yes, interpreters need to speak fluently in both languages.

 

LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:02
Russian to English
+ ...
Yes, it is necessary to be bilingual (top fluency in both languages) in speech May 10, 2014

(in speech, especially). It might be slightly different in the case of some rare languages--really rare--not like Bengali, which is not a very rare, language, especially in the combination with English. Your cousin should work on his spoken English, if he would like to work as an interpreter.



[Edited at 2014-05-10 10:59 GMT]


 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 15:02
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Definitely! May 10, 2014

... and spoken fluency is a must. An interpreter with a heavy accent in either language is bound to failure. The interpreting operation must work as smoothly as possible, to avoid wasting time, which is all it's about.

 

Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:02
English to Spanish
+ ...
Why? May 10, 2014

Why do you even ask? Of course, to be an interpreter it is essential to be able to use both languages with native or near native fluency and little or no accent.

 

Maxi Schwarz
Local time: 13:02
German to English
+ ...
How can you not? May 10, 2014

Interpretation involves working with two spoken languages. The more difficult type of interpretation is probably simultaneous interpretation, in which case you might get away with interpreting only into your native language. Otherwise you are working in both directions.

If your cousin worked with written English, is he even used to spoken English which would be spoken at native speed, with a variety of dialects and styles?


 

Helena Chavarria  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 20:02
Member (2011)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Why should interpreting be different to any other job? May 10, 2014

Ok, I suppose anyone can become an interpreter, but if your cousin wants to earn his living by interpreting, he needs to do the job well. Surely the same rule applies for any job?

When I was 14 (many moons ago) I worked in a shop during the summer selling fruit and vegetables, but I was interviewed beforehand. Some years later, I worked in a jewellery shop for a couple of months, also after an interview.

Personally I would never hire a cleaner unless they knew at least as much as I do about keeping my home clean. Nor would I go to a dentist who couldn't answer all my questions, or a mechanic who was only capable of repairing half my car.

I very much doubt I would hire an interpreter who could only speak one of the languages involved.


 

chatterjee88
India
Local time: 23:32
Member (2015)
English to Bengali
TOPIC STARTER
Do you need to be bilingual to work as an interpreter? May 11, 2014

Hello Ladies/Gentleman,

Thank you all. You cleared his doubt. I have also talked with him. He was confused due to a reason. The reason is that: he has found a job where Bengali Interpreter needed, he also found a job where Bilingual interpreter needed.

Hope now you all cleared why he raised the question.

Now, he has a question, this time he also needs your opinions.

1.) Spoken English is enough for Interpreter job?


Regards
Anupam


 

Karen Stokes  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:02
Member (2003)
French to English
Skills and qualifications May 11, 2014

From the link I gave you above:

Skills, interests and qualities:

To be an interpreter you should have:
•fluency in one or more foreign languages
•an excellent command of your native language and a clear speaking voice
•an understanding of the way other languages are used by native speakers, for example informal speech and slang
•excellent concentration and the ability to think quickly
•knowledge of the field in which you are interpreting, for example politics, economics, or trade
•confidence for interpreting in public
•integrity and a sense of responsibility.

I'd say those are just a starting point. Interpreting is highly skilled work, which professional interpreter colleagues of mine spend years getting qualified and gaining experience in so no, simply having spoken English isn't enough, any more than having two langagues is enough to make you a professional translator.

[Edited at 2014-05-11 07:36 GMT]


 

Trisha F  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:02
English to Spanish
+ ...
I'd say yes. May 11, 2014

Maybe he could work on his English a little bit. It sounds like he has many skills, which could be helpful for an interpreter but in my opinion, in order to be a good interpreter or translator you must first and foremost be highly proficient in the languages you are using. There is no way around it.

[Edited at 2014-05-11 13:34 GMT]


 

jyuan_us  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:02
Member (2005)
English to Chinese
+ ...
We are supposed to be kind to the newcomers May 11, 2014

but is this even a legitimate question to ask in the first place?

 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:02
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Yes May 11, 2014

chatterjee88 wrote:

Now my question is: In interpreter job is it necessary to be a bilingual in speaking?


Yes.


 


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