For reasons of technical obsolescence, will not be migrating with us to our new website and will be shutting down on 31 July 2020. All content will be archived in a usable format, accessible upon request, pending a decision on a possible future successor.

First-time posters: please review the site's moderation policy

I am soon to graduate with a BA in Modern Languages, and would like to apply to a CI course with the combination English A, French and Spanish C. I have spent a year and a half in total in France, and speak French every day with friends, listen to the radio, read etc. I have spent about 8 months in Spanish-speaking countries, however I'm planning on spending a year in a Spanish-speaking country after graduation to get my Spanish up to C level.

However, I am aware that this is a very common combination. I recently began studying Portuguese, and would be willing to spend a year in Portugal after my year spent improving my Spanish. I have heard that German or Romanian would make me more competitive, but then it would be several years before I would be able to apply to a CI course with one of these languages in my combination, and I may then discover that I'm not cut out for interpreting! I am also interested in working in Africa where Portuguese would be more useful.

Therefore, I would like to know what you think; should I apply to a CI course with EN A, ES FR C, whilst learning PT on the side and spending time in Portugal AFTER the masters, or should I take at least two years out, aiming to have ES FR and PT C BEFORE applying (or at least in a position to activate it soon after completing the masters) ?

I am keen to apply to a CI course but I don't want to rush it if that means having a weak combination. I would like to start learning German, but as I have already started learning Portuguese and it is closer to the languages I already study, it seems like a better idea to continue with PT for now.

Thank you in advance for any advice you may be able to give me!

asked 27 Dec '16, 12:25

abcd1234's gravatar image


edited 27 Dec '16, 14:41

With FR and ES (including Latin American Spanish), provided you are very good, you can end up at the UN and start a career with just two C languages (and eventually start learning Russian).

Many people in your shoes will go for the next romance language, may it be PT, RO or IT. If you'd want to have a shot at the EU, I'd go for German. You'd be standing out and covering a language that is much more spoken in any meeting than PT or RO. Today, FR and DE would allow you to get invited to an accreditation test to work as a freelancer. Recently, an English booth colleague retired, and she ever only worked with those two foreign languages. ES would be the cherry on top.

it would be several years before I would be able to apply to a CI course with one of these languages in my combination, and I may then discover that I'm not cut out for interpreting!

It is a gamble. But the CI training is a bit like the year before the Olympics. You won't know until the day of the race whether you're good enough to be a medalist. And it would make no sense to join the running team (i.e. start the MA) before you've learned how to stand on your two feet - which in this case would be having a rock solid language combination.

permanent link

answered 27 Dec '16, 17:12

Gaspar's gravatar image

Gaspar ♦♦

edited 27 Dec '16, 17:23

Hi abcd

I would think about where and for whom you want to work a bit more. And then find out what their current requirements are. For example, can you currently get an accreditation test for the EU and/or UN with those 2 languages and next to no experience? (Because you'll get precious little on the private market before accreditation with that combination). The EN booth in the EU is one of the few where 2 languages can get you a test... but are they currently looking for combinations without German? Be aware that the European Commission basically doesn't recruit EN booth interpreters who live outside of Brussels. So that leaves you only the EP (and the much smaller and specialised ECJ) if you are planning on living somewhere other than Brussels.

Or if you want to work in Africa then you might need an FR B to get any work. (I'm not an expert on the African market so maybe you should post another question on this forum about the African market).

As Gaspar says, if you want to work for the UN then you'll need RU some day but for the EU you should probably add DE or PL. I'm afraid RO (as the "easiest" 2004 language) is not quite so rare anymore. IT is likely to be more in demand than PT if you want to stick with romance languages.

I would actually say do an MA in CI with your 2 languages, see if you can do it and then try to both learn a third language and get enough work to get by. It's probably not worth spending a year in a country until you've been studying the language for a year or two, so you won't be going straight to DE/PL/IT after graduation. Again the EN booth is one of the few where that is possible.

permanent link

answered 02 Jan '17, 12:00

Andy's gravatar image


... on a parallel track to what my learned colleagues have written above and inasmuch as you mention Africa and PT, allow me my tuppenceworth: relocating to Africa, although an excellent thing in itself :-), would IMHO these days be professionally feasible (for someone starting a career) only if you hold an African passport; a local vehicular B language (be it PT or FR), as the case would be for most freelance work, would certainly stand to boost your annual workload - in such a scenario, your SP would eventually fade away but that prior effort would not go amiss, because of the circa 70% of common vocabulary roots with PT.

permanent link

answered 03 Jan '17, 11:36

msr's gravatar image


Your answer
toggle preview

Follow this question

By Email:

Once you sign in you will be able to subscribe for any updates here



Answers and Comments

Markdown Basics

  • *italic* or _italic_
  • **bold** or __bold__
  • link:[text]( "title")
  • image?![alt text](/path/img.jpg "title")
  • numbered list: 1. Foo 2. Bar
  • to add a line break simply add two spaces to where you would like the new line to be.
  • basic HTML tags are also supported

Question tags:


question asked: 27 Dec '16, 12:25

question was seen: 2,184 times

last updated: 03 Jan '17, 11:36 is a community-driven website open to anyone with questions and/or answers about interpreting, i.e. spoken language translation

about | faq | terms of use | privacy policy | content policy | disclaimer | contact us

This collaborative website is sponsored and hosted by AIIC, the International Association of Conference Interpreters.