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Request for guidance regarding interpretation
Thread poster: DS Trans
DS Trans  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:55
French to English
+ ...
Nov 23, 2014

I would very much appreciate advice from established interpreters regarding my situation. I have been interpreting since the spring (for tourists), which is very low stakes so great for starting out. Unfortunately, as the weather has gotten colder, I have had less and less work, and need to consider branching out. I have only interpreted from English, which is my native language. Although I generally don't have issues with comprehension, I still worry about interpreting in the other direction.

I don't have a degree in the languages I work with currently (I have an undergraduate degree in another language). It was not an issue in my current position, but I don't know if this is an exception or the norm. One other weird limitation is that I have a problem in general with public speaking. I am taking a course to try to address the issue, but only with limited success so far. Therefore, I'd prefer to interpret one to one, or only to a small group of people rather than a large group.

Is it feasible to contact agencies seeking work with my limited experience, training and fear of public speaking? I'm interested in additional training, but local programs seem to be limited to medical and conference interpreting--none of which interest me. Any other ideas to pursue training (without getting another university degree) or certification exams?

Thank you in advance!


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 04:55
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Are you doing the wrong job? Nov 23, 2014

I can imagine there isn't a lot of sightseeing going on around you at the moment, and admiring icicles (we've seen some beauties on TV) doesn't call for interpreting.
DS Trans wrote:
One other weird limitation is that I have a problem in general with public speaking. I am taking a course to try to address the issue, but only with limited success so far. Therefore, I'd prefer to interpret one to one, or only to a small group of people rather than a large group.

That really is one hell of a limitation for an interpreter to have, and is one of the main differences in character between most interpreters and translators, the latter often getting on better with their computer. My TEFL training completely overcame my fear of public speaking (I actually enjoy it now) but I still couldn't be an interpreter. My last experience of that (of a total of 3 jobs) led to me being invited to lunch with "my" two businessmen; no work involved, just a top restaurant freebie. I nearly threw up just at the prospect of such a stressful social event. Maybe that's just me and you could cope but you really can't expect agencies to have confidence in you.

Are you sure you wouldn't be happier translating? You'd at least get to stay nice and warm in winter. Mind you, it sounds as though you may have problems with comprehension - translators need to have really excellent comprehension of their source language(s).


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Diana Coada  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:55
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Nothing new there Nov 23, 2014

You'd be surprised how many interpreters, contrary to popular belief, are actually introverts, shy, afraid of public speaking, and so on. If you enjoy interpreting, do not let people put you off just because you sweat, blush or have your heart rate go through the roof when you speak in front of a group BUT INSTEAD take action to remedy the situation. You can go to the Toastmasters meetings, for one. Improv classes seem to have helped other interpreter colleagues of mine. From my own experience, any MA in Conference Interpreting will concentrate on public speaking skills from day one. In one or two years (depending on the country) you will improve dramatically.

Good luck


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DS Trans  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:55
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Advantages and Disadvantages Nov 23, 2014

Sheila Wilson wrote:

I can imagine there isn't a lot of sightseeing going on around you at the moment, and admiring icicles (we've seen some beauties on TV) doesn't call for interpreting.
DS Trans wrote:
One other weird limitation is that I have a problem in general with public speaking. I am taking a course to try to address the issue, but only with limited success so far. Therefore, I'd prefer to interpret one to one, or only to a small group of people rather than a large group.

That really is one hell of a limitation for an interpreter to have, and is one of the main differences in character between most interpreters and translators, the latter often getting on better with their computer. My TEFL training completely overcame my fear of public speaking (I actually enjoy it now) but I still couldn't be an interpreter. My last experience of that (of a total of 3 jobs) led to me being invited to lunch with "my" two businessmen; no work involved, just a top restaurant freebie. I nearly threw up just at the prospect of such a stressful social event. Maybe that's just me and you could cope but you really can't expect agencies to have confidence in you.

Are you sure you wouldn't be happier translating? You'd at least get to stay nice and warm in winter. Mind you, it sounds as though you may have problems with comprehension - translators need to have really excellent comprehension of their source language(s).


Thank you for your response, Sheila. I did start out intending to translate as a freelancer rather than interpret, but was not able to make a living. I know others manage, but I was very discouraged by the rates, payment delays, and reliance on translating software, so it was a relief to find my current position.

Because of my personality, I have also asked myself at times if interpreting is really what I should be doing. On the other hand, I love the work (when I have a small audience) and think that I have talent for it. I relate well to people as individuals, but not to large groups of them. It's a disadvantage for this profession, but I hope to keep working on it.

My fear about interpreting in the other direction is more regarding the accent I may encounter rather than vocabulary. I don't know if it's a founded fear or not not since I haven't worked this way in the past.

For now, I'd like to continue, and to find appropriate situations. I could picture myself working for the school system or the police department for instance, but don't see these positions advertised or know the background that is required.

I appreciate your input.

[Edited at 2014-11-24 02:12 GMT]


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DS Trans  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:55
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Great to hear Nov 23, 2014

Diana Coada, PGDip DPSI NRPSI wrote:

You'd be surprised how many interpreters, contrary to popular belief, are actually introverts, shy, afraid of public speaking, and so on. If you enjoy interpreting, do not let people put you off just because you sweat, blush or have your heart rate go through the roof when you speak in front of a group BUT INSTEAD take action to remedy the situation. You can go to the Toastmasters meetings, for one. Improv classes seem to have helped other interpreter colleagues of mine. From my own experience, any MA in Conference Interpreting will concentrate on public speaking skills from day one. In one or two years (depending on the country) you will improve dramatically.

Good luck



Thank you for your encouragement, Diana. I go to a bilingual Toastmasters, and it has been great to meet people with the same issue, or others who have successfully been able to overcome it. Sometimes I think I've improved, but at other times, not so much. I guess some days are better than others.

I think that NYU has a conference interpreting program, but I remember it as being very expensive. There are medical interpreting programs that seem more affordable, but perhaps too specialized. I will keep looking into it.


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Miguel Carmona  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 20:55
English to Spanish
... Nov 23, 2014

Diana Coada, PGDip DPSI NRPSI wrote:

Nothing new there

You'd be surprised how many interpreters, contrary to popular belief, are actually introverts, shy, afraid of public speaking, and so on. If you enjoy interpreting, do not let people put you off just because you sweat, blush or have your heart rate go through the roof when you speak in front of a group BUT INSTEAD take action to remedy the situation. You can go to the Toastmasters meetings, for one. Improv classes seem to have helped other interpreter colleagues of mine. From my own experience, any MA in Conference Interpreting will concentrate on public speaking skills from day one. In one or two years (depending on the country) you will improve dramatically.


Excellent piece of advice, Diana.

It reminds me of these words by Eleanor Roosevelt:

** You have to do the very thing you think you cannot do. **

It will set you free.


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LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:55
Russian to English
+ ...
You do not need a degree in interpreting--you just have to know how to do it Nov 24, 2014

and have the type of skills required--full fluency in both languages, trained reaction, attention and memory. You cannot be afraid of public speech, but it is slightly easier than just speaking because you do not have to think what to say next as the speaker will say whatever they will say--you just have to interpret it accurately without getting lost. This is the most serious problem--getting lost. I agree that many introvert people can do it as well--I am actually an introvert, mostly, but I enjoy interpreting--not booth interpreting, though. maybe occasionally--otherwise, it is really painful, at least for me-- being trapped in a booth for almost an hour each time.

You can practice interpreting at home --with some audio files and some equipment that slows down the outcoming message, so you could practice at a lower speed in the beginning. You can recpord your interpreting and then compare it with the original. As you become more proficient and your interpreting becomes accurate, you can increase the speed--usually 175 words/min in English.

[Edited at 2014-11-24 11:04 GMT]


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Diana Coada  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:55
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Disagree Nov 24, 2014

Lilian Nekipelov wrote:

You do not need a degree in interpreting--you just have to know how to do it and have the type of skills required ... it is slightly easier than just speaking because you do not have to think what to say next as the speaker will say whatever they will say--you just have to interpret it accurately ...


Dear Lilian, you keep saying these things whenever there's a post on interpreting.

We all think we are the greatest, the best and we know what we are doing, but there's nothing like a few very experienced teachers to take our performance apart and show us the million little things we are doing wrong during our performances. Things that never even cross our mind. So no, I am convinced you need proper training in interpreting. Most definitely. How would you ''know how to do it'' in the first place?

[Edited at 2014-11-24 11:20 GMT]


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DS Trans  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:55
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Formal and self-training Nov 24, 2014

Both are surely useful. Options for formal training are very slim in NYC as far as I can tell, which seems incredible considering that it's such an international city. I should clarify - there are programs for Spanish interpreting. For French, the only thing I could find is NYU simultaneous French - English. I'm sure it's useful, but it's pretty shocking that there is no training in the other direction. I do interpret simultaneously fairly frequently, and while I'm not terrible (because I practice a lot), I have gotten very lost more times than I'd like to admit. It may not be a problem for the type of interpreting I do now, but I would never to attempt to do high stakes interpreting simultaneously (without training).

For those with interpreting experience in the courts - does it tend to be consecutive? I wonder if most of the work is in front of a jury or with smaller group of people?


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Diana Coada  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:55
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Try Nov 24, 2014

contacting MIIS and see what they say about their CI course. They have a great reputation.

NB: please do not interpret in courts without training and certification.


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DS Trans  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:55
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks for the info Nov 24, 2014

Diana Coada, PGDip DPSI NRPSI wrote:

contacting MIIS and see what they say about their CI course. They have a great reputation.

NB: please do not interpret in courts without training and certification.


Yes, that's probably best. I hadn't been thinking of on-line interpretation training. I'll look into it, thanks.


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liviu roth
United States
Local time: 23:55
Romanian to English
+ ...
Disagree to disagree :-) Nov 24, 2014

Diana Coada, PGDip DPSI NRPSI wrote:

Lilian Nekipelov wrote:

You do not need a degree in interpreting--you just have to know how to do it and have the type of skills required ... it is slightly easier than just speaking because you do not have to think what to say next as the speaker will say whatever they will say--you just have to interpret it accurately ...


Dear Lilian, you keep saying these things whenever there's a post on interpreting.

We all think we are the greatest, the best and we know what we are doing, but there's nothing like a few very experienced teachers to take our performance apart and show us the million little things we are doing wrong during our performances. Things that never even cross our mind. So no, I am convinced you need proper training in interpreting. Most definitely. How would you ''know how to do it'' in the first place?

[Edited at 2014-11-24 11:20 GMT]


I have been an interpreter, both court and medical, for almost 20 years and the only „training” was a two days orientation to prepare for the court certification exam in Pennsylvania. In the US, things are different than in other parts (Europe). If you are good and have extensive life experience, you can do it.

For medical interpreting there is a 40 hours course called „Bridging the Gap”, which I never took.

Court interpreting does not mean only in front of a jury. You interpret in court both consecutive and simultaneous,in civil, criminal and family matters, during each procedural phase.

Good luck,
Lee


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DS Trans  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:55
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Lee Nov 24, 2014

lee roth wrote:

Diana Coada, PGDip DPSI NRPSI wrote:

Lilian Nekipelov wrote:

You do not need a degree in interpreting--you just have to know how to do it and have the type of skills required ... it is slightly easier than just speaking because you do not have to think what to say next as the speaker will say whatever they will say--you just have to interpret it accurately ...


Dear Lilian, you keep saying these things whenever there's a post on interpreting.

We all think we are the greatest, the best and we know what we are doing, but there's nothing like a few very experienced teachers to take our performance apart and show us the million little things we are doing wrong during our performances. Things that never even cross our mind. So no, I am convinced you need proper training in interpreting. Most definitely. How would you ''know how to do it'' in the first place?

[Edited at 2014-11-24 11:20 GMT]


I have been an interpreter, both court and medical, for almost 20 years and the only „training” was a two days orientation to prepare for the court certification exam in Pennsylvania. In the US, things are different than in other parts (Europe). If you are good and have extensive life experience, you can do it.

For medical interpreting there is a 40 hours course called „Bridging the Gap”, which I never took.

Court interpreting does not mean only in front of a jury. You interpret in court both consecutive and simultaneous,in civil, criminal and family matters, during each procedural phase.

Good luck,
Lee


Thank you Lee. It's interesting to hear everyone's experiences and opinions. From what I understand, there is a test once a year for per diem non-Spanish court interpretation in NYC. It's in the summer, so there's some time to consider it all. I'd like to get training anyway, hopefully some type of certificate program or coursework at the minimum. Unfortunately, a new degree is probably not feasible for me at this time.


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mystymy
Local time: 23:55
Spanish to English
+ ...
NYU not the only one Nov 24, 2014

While NYU has a really good program it is not the only one in the NYC area. You should check out Hunter college and even Rutgers.

You can also check when there are local workshops either with the New York Circle of Translators or when James Nolan comes to town. There is also a French program that goes on in the Catskills.

Training certainly helps but practice and experience count more. You can only practice so much on your own so you should volunteer at the MET or Guggenheim for tour groups that need French interpreters. Yes my fellow interpreters will say "he should be paid" but trust me the MET and other museums are not paying for tour group interpreters, they have plenty of people willing to volunteer who are not even interpreters. This way you can practice interpreting into French with small groups.


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DS Trans  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:55
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you for the info Nov 25, 2014

mystymy wrote:

While NYU has a really good program it is not the only one in the NYC area. You should check out Hunter college and even Rutgers.

You can also check when there are local workshops either with the New York Circle of Translators or when James Nolan comes to town. There is also a French program that goes on in the Catskills.

Training certainly helps but practice and experience count more. You can only practice so much on your own so you should volunteer at the MET or Guggenheim for tour groups that need French interpreters. Yes my fellow interpreters will say "he should be paid" but trust me the MET and other museums are not paying for tour group interpreters, they have plenty of people willing to volunteer who are not even interpreters. This way you can practice interpreting into French with small groups.


I had heard about NY Circle of translators, but thought it was more for networking than training, so I'll definitely check it out. I only see Spanish on the websites for Hunter and Rutgers though. I was hired to do Spanish interpreting also, but rarely get the chance. Bilingual Spanish speakers are everywhere here, and I imagine that it would be more difficult to find work interpreting Spanish, even if there is more of it (please correct me if I'm wrong).

I appreciate the suggestion about the volunteer interpreting at the museums, but I will probably not do that. I feel strongly that institutions and companies with money to pay for interpretation (and translation) should do so.

[Edited at 2014-11-25 14:13 GMT]


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