Where to begin in this field - advice, please!
Thread poster: annexthecelt
Mar 6, 2011

Hi there, my name is Anne and I am an aspiring translator / interpreter of multiple languages. I am fluent in French, and am just starting learn Japanese, Russian, Spanish, and Arabic through my military husband's Rosetta Stone access. I, however, am having some concerns about just how to get started in this field as far as:

- Which schools have the best / most flexible foreign language programs

- Which schools possibly offer online classes, for I just moved to Hawaii

- How to learn several languages at one -- do I dual major, triple major? Do I even need a degree at all, just certifications? And how do those work?

Even if you don't have any suggestions for me, I would at least like to hear about your journey and how you got where you are as a translator / interpreter. Any help would be much appreciated.


Parrot  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:42
Spanish to English
+ ...
Hello, and welcome Mar 6, 2011

While I do not have any ready answers for your first and second questions, this article might help with regards to the third: http://www.proz.com/translation-articles/articles/611/

Our colleagues might have more have to say about your concerns.


Jean-Pierre Artigau (X)
Local time: 00:42
English to French
+ ...
Advice to a young translator Mar 7, 2011

You should do a research on this site (proz.com), these questions probably have been raised multiple times by other people.

I don't know anything about translator schools in the US, but I can talk about other more general aspects.

I wouldn't advise to try to learn all the languages you mentioned (half a dozen!) First of all I don't think translator schools would require their students to learn more than one or two languages.

Since you already know French, I suggest you add another language that would represent a good market for you in the United States. Spanish certainly is very much in use in your country (and a grammatical structure very similar to French), Japanese will probably be a good asset in the future. Did you think about Chinese? I also think learning an Oriental language is quite a challenge to us Westerners (radically different structure, writing, etc.) (although I've never tried). Many translators just have one pair of languages and translate toward their mother language (the best combination).

Learning a language for a career in translation means learning it completely, seriously, in real depth; I'm not talking about accent or anything that superficial, but about grammar, syntax, even culture, etc., and spending time with native speakers. This is why you have to focus on one, maybe two foreign languages. And you will have to keep practicing them one way or another for the rest of your life, i.e. read, watch tv programs, etc. Otherwise you will forget the ones you don't practice.

I wish you good luck in your endeavor.



Woodstock  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:42
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
Just doing some research Mar 7, 2011

on this website should answer most - if not all - of your questions. The forums go back years and discuss everything under the sun related to translation and the schools you are asking about. Google is also your friend. Last time I checked, online language programs were fairly common.

An important part of this business is knowing how to do research on the internet - so here's a wonderful opportunity to start honing that skill.

I second the opinion that trying to learn multiple languages simultaneously is probably not the best idea, unless you know you are a rare linguistic genius. My father was one and was fluent in six or seven languages, including Burmese, and knowledgeable in numerous others, from Hungarian to Mongolian to Sanskrit, but he learned them one at a time. Better to learn each one well before starting on the next.


Merci! Mar 8, 2011

Thank you all so much for the advice -- it's only helping me to have a better understanding of this complex field (that I'm so very excited about). I hope to get started soon, I think about language every day.. now, on to the school search!


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