Interpreter without adequate education
Thread poster: Lenka Bahr-Rychnavska

Lenka Bahr-Rychnavska
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:00
Slovak to English
+ ...
Sep 9, 2005

Suddenly there is a chance for you to do a high payed job. You have no experience. You have ho education in this field. They throw you into the water and you have to swim. But what next? You are aware that you are not that good, but you like this work very much, because interpreting is very exiting, isn't it? What next?


Monika Coulson  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:00
Member (2001)
English to Albanian
+ ...
If you are really serious... Sep 9, 2005

If you are really serious about making Interpretation your future profession, I would suggest for you to get some formal educations in this field. Ask if there are any schools or departments that offer interpreting classes/courses. Nobody is born with the knowledge, you earn it. Try to attend an interpreting class or course. In none of them are available in your area, then read through the forums here in or try to find other resources on the internet and teach yourself. (As a start, you can teach yourself just by listening to the TV, radio, cassettes. First you shadow the speaker in your own language, then, you can start practicing interpretation to a different language.) IMO, interpreting is 5% talent and 95% hard work and experience.
Good luck,

lenidm wrote:

Suddenly there is a chance for you to do a high payed job. You have no experience. You have ho education in this field. They throw you into the water and you have to swim. But what next? You are aware that you are not that good, but you like this work very much, because interpreting is very exiting, isn't it? What next?

[Edited at 2005-09-10 00:59]


Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:00
English to Spanish
+ ...
Ease into it Sep 10, 2005

You have to ease into it with easy assignments first, and preferably a lot of observation with an experienced colleague, even without pay, and occasional interpreting for short periods when you feel confident.

And of course the practice recommendations are fundamental, that you can do on your own, and the more, the better.

If you take a job you are not prepared for, no matter how good the pay, you will sink, not swim. And if you sink, they may not even pay you at all. Why should they?


Carley Hydusik  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:00
Russian to English
+ ...
Comenius University in Bratislava Sep 10, 2005

Comenius University in Bratislava has a one-year conference interpreter training course which is also part of the EU's European Masters in Conference Interpreting.

See the following, which I found on the Internet:

Comenius University
Filosoficka Fakulta
Gondova ul. 2 - SK -81801 Bratislava
Tel.: (421-2) 5933 9187

Best wishes!


Alayna Keller
Local time: 16:00
Spanish to English
+ ...
Preparation not an issue until too late Sep 10, 2005

It's funny how often clients--and even agencies, who ought to know better--assume that translators are interpreters as well. If you do not perform well, for any reason, those people will never call the agency again. Haven't many of us received calls asking us to do all kinds of language-related things--interpreting, even teaching--that we have no preparation for? And often the money is enticing, especially when you're just starting and are not really sure you're going to be able to make a living with just translations. In the beginning, it can be hard to draw the line between "This is not my area of expertise, no thank you" and "Well, I'll give it a shot to see if I have any aptitude".


Jane Lamb-Ruiz (X)  Identity Verified
French to English
+ ...
Improve Target Language Knowledge Sep 10, 2005

In Europe,there are usually three languages: A, B and C. A is the native language, B is the language one interprets predominantly from/into and C is the language one interprets from into A.

A- Native fluency
B- Near native fluency: very high level
C- Very good level

There should be no basic grammar mistakes in one's B language. You have to really be able to speak it so that a native speaker will not "wince" when he or she hears you.

This near native fluency needs to exist Before You Even Consider Becoming an Interpreter.

For that, one must: spend time in a country where they B language is spoken, and/or do everything in one's power to improve that B language. Read books, see movies, watch TV, surround oneself with speakers of that language. Carry around a notebook and take notes on the details of the language, for example, in English, watch out for prepositions and two-word or phrasal verbs.

This is the bottom line for becoming an interpreter.


Silvia Montufo Urquízar  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:00
French to Spanish
+ ...
I'm afraid I know what you mean Sep 10, 2005

I think you were actually complaining about people who work as interpreters with no training whatsoever.

I was very aware of this problem before I studied Translation and Intepreting, as well as the fact that bilingual people (mother and father from different countries, for example) would always have a better command of the languages than I do, since my only native language is Spanish. However, I did not let this stop me because this was the job I really wanted to do and thought that maybe I could have a chance, and the truth is I work a lot. I luckly managed to become a sworn translator too, and you are less likely to get intruders there (although it has happened too...).

In my view if you are a good professional with qualifications you will always have more work than the rest and clients will tell the difference between your work and other people's, although they may bring prices down.

Finally, and even though I am obviously totally against intruders, I try to sympathize with people who desperately need a job and would try anything.

Keep up the good work!


Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:00
French to English
Having what it takes Oct 4, 2005

I recall a time when I would see stickers in the rear windows of cars with "Please help me keep my mouth shut when I don't know what I'm talking about". This comes to mind from time to time professionally.

This should be the guiding principle of any interpreter aiming to achieve a professional result.
You're only as good as your last job and if you screw up interpreting, it is pretty public and you look ridiculous fast.
Your client will probably hate you and with good reason.

Yes, good training is of course important. However, I have seen qualified interpreters making a mess of things and those with no formal training for it doing an excellent job.As a rule, those who suuceed in obtaining a decent interpreting qualification have a natural ability for it in the first place.
Translation and interpreting are two different fields. Some can do both, others one or the other.

And last but not least, that plain old hard work and pain-staking preparation accounts for a lot too.

I have only rarely done this as a two-some but I have perhaps landed lucky and been wth competent experienced people.
Ideally, my experience would show that spending a good hour or two with your "other half" before going "on stage" is essential.

Good training : yes
Natural ability : yes
Knowledge of subject area : essential
Ability to think on your feet : yes
Hard work and preparation : yes
Experience : yes



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