Wish to become interpreter/translator, where to start?
Thread poster: Olgaaglo

Olgaaglo
United Kingdom
Sep 6, 2013

Hi everyone, I hope u can help me with advise. I'm planing to start russian and English BA course in Nottingham University next year, but in addition to that planning to do Certificate in bilingual skills CBS course. My only concern is that it my be a waste of time. Wonder if any one can advise me where I better start if I'm wish to do interpreting/ translating job while I'm studying?

 

LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:34
Russian to English
+ ...
Hi. Do you speak Russian fluently? Sep 6, 2013

That might be the start. I assume English is your L1.For interpreting purposes you must be first close to bilingual, and then take certain courses. It might be different with translation, although not that significantly different.

You may consider studying the language in Russia first, for a year or two.

If you are bilingual, a university course, or program might be a good idea. I don't think you need more than two semesters for interpreting.




[Edited at 2013-09-06 14:33 GMT]


 

Olgaaglo
United Kingdom
TOPIC STARTER
Hi thank you for reply Sep 6, 2013

Yes russian is my 1 language, I'm originally from Latvia, but went to Russian school.

 

LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:34
Russian to English
+ ...
Oh, great. Sep 6, 2013

Then you can take any university short program. They may need interpreters in the court system, and in the healthcare system. You may contact some hospitals in the UK --I am sure they always need interpreters.







[Edited at 2013-09-06 16:23 GMT]


 
Post removed: This post was hidden by a moderator or staff member for the following reason: empty

Olgaaglo
United Kingdom
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you for your advise Sep 6, 2013

will have to look into it, I have year till I start university course.

 

Triston Goodwin  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:34
Spanish to English
+ ...
Shadowing Sep 6, 2013

When I first started as an interpreter, I was able to shadow other professional interpreters and learn how they worked. It was great because they answered my question and I able to see everything first hand.

You might be able to find an interpretation/translation agency that will let you accompany their linguists. I was paid for my training, but I did a lot of customer service and errands for the company before taking an interpreting position. I didn't make a ton of money, but it was better than minimum wage and it opened doors for later projects and jobs.


 

Tatty  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:34
Spanish to English
+ ...
Yours aims Sep 7, 2013

I don't really understand your aims. Did you want to pursue translation/interpreting as a student job or on a professional level when you graduate?

I'm a Brit but I don't live in the UK. I may be wrong but I don't believe that there is much call for Russian/English interpreters in the UK, and there would be some call for English to Russian translators, but I'm sure competition is stiff. In either case, you would have to have the right qualifications for an agency to engage your services.

As to your BA, I think that studying half a BA in Russian would be a waste of time, given that you are a Russian native. Why don't you study French or Spanish, that way you could potentially work for the UN in the future.

Good luck to you.


 

Kay Denney  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 08:34
Member (Apr 2018)
French to English
Hmmph Sep 7, 2013

"while I'm studying" leads me to understand that you see translating and interpreting as a way to put yourself through university? Like flipping intelligent burgers?

Sorry to be blunt, but these days you need to be up to your teeth in academic qualifications with at least five years' experience below your belt before anyone will pay you for a translation. I know some still try winging it on the strength of equal doses of youthful enthusiasm, bright-spark optimism, a lucky connection, raw talent, bravoure and the ability to avoid falling asleep during the inevitable all-nighter when the previously-mentioned qualities lead to you to accept an inpossible deadline, but it doesn't wash these days, I'm afraid. It worked in my day and that's how come I'm here to tell the tale, but then that was in the days before MAs in translation even existed.

I believe Tatty is right about the competition. The Soviet Union did train a lot of people very well in speaking foreign languages, and I believe this legacy has been perpetuated. Agencies are inundated with CVs from incredibly talented people commanding rates you could never compete with unless you don't mind earning considerably less than the cleaning lady at that burger joint.


 

Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 08:34
English to Polish
+ ...
Think about a different job Sep 7, 2013

Interpreting could perhaps work, but it would be hard to get yourself some nice professional standing there, rather than being treated like some lawyer's or politician's or businessman's domestic servant for all your degrees and experience.

Translators tend to be undervalued even more, and unless you have a decent niche in you which you clearly stand out, you generally need remarkable business skills to make a salary to write home about.

And, if you have a niche, that usually means you have the skills to do a different job and earn more in that line of business, where also your language skills would be more unique than among translators.


 

LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:34
Russian to English
+ ...
To study French or Spanish, when you are a Russian-English native to become an interpreter? Sep 7, 2013

Tatty wrote:

I don't really understand your aims. Did you want to pursue translation/interpreting as a student job or on a professional level when you graduate?

I'm a Brit but I don't live in the UK. I may be wrong but I don't believe that there is much call for Russian/English interpreters in the UK, and there would be some call for English to Russian translators, but I'm sure competition is stiff. In either case, you would have to have the right qualifications for an agency to engage your services.

As to your BA, I think that studying half a BA in Russian would be a waste of time, given that you are a Russian native. Why don't you study French or Spanish, that way you could potentially work for the UN in the future.

Good luck to you.


I must be missing something. You probably don't realize, Tatty, what it takes to be a court interpreter. If you wanted to learn one of the languages from scratch -- probably 10-15 years. I am sure there is need for Russian interpreters in England as well, if not -- you can always move to the US. There is a lot business between UK and Russia, in certain fields, and collaboration in the arts.

To be blunt, it does not really matter how many degrees or certifications you hold in the interpreting field -- the only thing that matters is if you can interpret. You have to be almost totally bilingual and have some training --at least half a year I think (99.9% fluency in both languages). You don't need to first complete your degree, if you know how to interpret and have some training. The degree is not a magic wand that will turn someone into a successful interpreter without practice. It is different to pass tests in school and completely different to interpret in a real-situation environment?

If you like interpreting go for it, and don't listen to anyone. It is not that hard for bilingual people. You can always get some kind of a degree in languages, not necessarily translation, if you find it helpful, and most of all interesting. I think language study degrees might be more interesting than translation degrees per se, and more intellectually enriching.

Domestic servant? What are you talking about, Lukasz? Is that you contention that interpreters might be treated as domestic servants ? Which country are you referring to? The word servant is not used any more, just to inform you, at least in American English. Interpreters who work for the courts, symposia and seminars are treated the same way as politicians, lawyers and scientists -- sometimes even with more formality and respect, especially in courts. I also don't know where you got this idea that some people should be treated worse than others. Shouldn't the administrative assistants, or even the maintenance people be treated with respect? That the UK has a queen, it does not mean that all the people are servants.

[Edited at 2013-09-07 14:02 GMT]


 

Triston Goodwin  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:34
Spanish to English
+ ...
Court interpreters Sep 7, 2013

LilianBNekipelo wrote:

Interpreters who work for the courts, symposia and seminars are treated the same way as politicians, lawyers and scientists -- sometimes even with more formality and respect, especially in courts. I also don't know where you got this idea that some people should be treated worse than others. Shouldn't the administrative assistants, or even the maintenance people be treated with respect? That the UK has a queen, it does not mean that all the people are servants.

[Edited at 2013-09-07 14:02 GMT]


Just to back up this point, court interpreting here in the US, at least in my state of Missouri, is a good field to look into. The training for it is pretty intense and I'm still working my way through the 40 pages of vocab that I need to memorize (it's so much easier to translate haha), but it's something that I'm pursuing as well. I've always been treated with the utmost respect when ever I interpret.


 

Tatty  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:35
Spanish to English
+ ...
The UK Sep 7, 2013

The lady specifically asked about the UK. She may or may not be entitled to move to the US - who knows. In the UK, court interpreting is a low paid job, which is the point that Lukasz was trying to make. It is not that anyone is rude to you, you just get paid serious peanuts. You have to pass the pertinent IOL exam to qualify. And FYI, I am a court interpreter here in Spain. Civil hearings pay a lot higher than criminal trials. And I don't find court interpreting difficult actually.

In any case, when someone says that they want to become an interpreter, I assume that they want to become a conference interpreter, and pursue the profession on a full-time basis. My point was that she would be wasting her time studying Russian, her native language, at a uni in England and that it would be more useful to study French ab initio if possible. To interpret for the UN you will need a first degree and a master's in interpreting.


 

Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 08:35
English to Polish
+ ...
... Sep 8, 2013

Tatty wrote:

The lady specifically asked about the UK. She may or may not be entitled to move to the US - who knows. In the UK, court interpreting is a low paid job, which is the point that Lukasz was trying to make. It is not that anyone is rude to you, you just get paid serious peanuts. You have to pass the pertinent IOL exam to qualify. And FYI, I am a court interpreter here in Spain. Civil hearings pay a lot higher than criminal trials. And I don't find court interpreting difficult actually.

In any case, when someone says that they want to become an interpreter, I assume that they want to become a conference interpreter, and pursue the profession on a full-time basis. My point was that she would be wasting her time studying Russian, her native language, at a uni in England and that it would be more useful to study French ab initio if possible. To interpret for the UN you will need a first degree and a master's in interpreting.


What about just studying English at that UK university?


 


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