Interpreting Schools and Language Combination
Thread poster: Jinwun Wong (X)

Jinwun Wong (X)
Chinese to English
+ ...
Sep 22, 2011

Hello!
I am planning to apply for an MA Interpreting in either Australia or England. I speak English and Chinese (Mandarin) fluently and have Korean as my C language.
I am actually doing my MA Translation in South Korea but I find that the modules are not very appealing and I actually prefer interpreting more than translation so I plan to quit the programme here and apply to another interpreting programme.

My concern is that in England, there is only English-Chinese combination while in Australia there are both English-Chinese and English-Korean.
I thought English-Korean is better for me since I speak Chinese on a daily basis, it will not be a big problem for me to interprete without proper training. However, I do realise that the demand for Chinese is so much greater as compared to Korean.
I shortlisted a few universities, Bath, Newcastle, Leeds and Westminter in England, and New South Wales, Macquarie and Monash in Australia.
Can anyone give me some suggestion?

Thanks =)


 

Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 01:55
Chinese to English
Speaking is not enough Sep 22, 2011

1) If you want to be a good interpreter, "I speak this language" is far from enough.

2) Interpreter training is not language training. Don't do an interpreting course to improve your Korean.

Chinese interpreting is a mess. It's dominated by highly unprofessional interpreters. Despite that, it's still relatively well paid. If you can train and become a good Chinese interpreter, you'll have an enormous market.

I don't know anything about Korean, so you'll have to work that one out yourself, but please, please don't imagine that being able to speak "home Chinese" is enough. I assume you speak Chinese in the home. But you need professional Chinese, and that means very intensive reading (newspapers, technical stuff, politics), and learning an enormous amount about China (if you ever interpret for a Chinese government official, you will find they have no consideration for the interpreter or their audience - they just reel off lists of figures and Chinese government policies. To interpret well, you have to know what those policies are and what they mean. You don't get this speaking home Chinese.)

I did my interpreter training in China, on a course that is now defunct, so I really can't tell you much about the training programs overseas. I had some contact with a student from the UK under Kevin Lin, and the standard there was pretty low.

But whatever you choose, go in ready to learn interpreting. The fact that your English is obviously good will be a big help, but both your English and Chinese will need to improve a lot, to turn them into professional languages, rather than just languages you know.

The above is all based on the idea that you want to do conference interpreting (simultaneous).


 

Jinwun Wong (X)
Chinese to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks for the reply Sep 22, 2011

Hi Phil,
Thank you for your insightful comments =)
Perhaps I should have provided some background about myself.
I attended a Chinese school for 6 years and I do read a lot of Chinese novels. I admit that I do not really keep up with the politics in China, but I guess I will have to start paying attention on it from now on.

I do not know if I am capable of doing simultaneous interpreting in Korean because I am still relatively new to the language but I do have one year experience in consecutive interpreting, I don't have problem in Korean-English or Korean-Chinese but sometimes I do get stuck when I need to do interprete from Chinese/English into Korean.


 

Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:55
Flemish to English
+ ...
Leeds Sep 22, 2011

The interpreter course at Westminster is now defunct.
If I were you, I would try Leeds.


 

Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 01:55
Chinese to English
Sounds good Sep 22, 2011

It sounds like you've got a really strong foundation to work from, that's excellent.

My second point still stands: if you've got the English and Chinese languages, I would study interpreting in those languages. Later, when you've got solid interpreting skills, you can bring your Korean up to standard and start working in Korean. Don't go to interpreter school to learn the language.

If you're looking for good interpreter training, my personal feeling is that you should look at the places that do it best: Monterey and ESIT. The UK courses are not professional training, they're all MA courses aimed at attracting Chinese money. I don't know what Monterey and ESIT are like, but I know they're tough - I have a very smart friend who failed his year one exams at ESIT doing French-Chinese. I say that to inspire you, not to put you off! If you want to be good, these are the places to go. Expensive, I'm afraid, but that's always the way...


 

Jinwun Wong (X)
Chinese to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks! Sep 22, 2011

Hi Williamson, Westminsted closed their conference interpreting programme but they do have one pure interpreting programme. I will apply to a few schools, including Leeds. Thank you =)

Phil, thanks a lot! I was very interested in Monterey but the fees are triple of UK school's, I am afraid that I couldn't afford it but I will check on their financial aid skim.


 

Daina Jauntirans  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:55
German to English
+ ...
MIIS Sep 23, 2011

Hi,
As an alumna, I sympathize about the price of Monterey Institute! However, sometimes there are extras worth paying for if you can swing it. You could specialize in Chinese and Korean there, and study both simultaneous and consecutive interpreting - they have booths for simultaneous. Companies and government agencies regularly recruit on campus, and when I was there interpreting students did really cool internships like interpreting at the Olympics. It's tough to get in and tough to stay in; the programs are rigorous, but have a real-world focus. Another point to consider is that the school has an excellent reputation, which can open doors in the working world - I can attest to that personally. At least when I was there, some scholarships were available, so I would encourage you to at least check it out!


 

Jinwun Wong (X)
Chinese to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Daina! Sep 25, 2011

Hello Diana, thank you for your comments! I know they have merit based scholarships, will give it a try =)

 

sonjaswenson (X)  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 11:55
Spanish to English
+ ...
UK Oct 30, 2011

I think the University of Bath has an Asian languages part in its Conference Interpreting MA, check out their website too.

 


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