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So I speak several languages besides English, especially Spanish and Italian. I want to work on my French as well. I feel silly asking this, but are there programs in which you can study multiple B languages, and not just English/French, for example? I'm brand new to this world so I know next to nothing about interpretation programs.

asked 12 Sep '12, 18:10

hemlocklatte's gravatar image


edited 15 Sep '12, 03:03

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Hi Hemlocklatte,

At most (if not all) interpreting schools each student can only work with one B language (and one A language of course) in their combination for a simple reason - almost no one manages to interpret with A and 2 B's. Some do, but it's too rare to make it worth setting up courses to cater for. In a given school though you may find students with all sorts of different A and B languages, but most likely only one of each.

Speaking a foreign language fluently is a great achievement, but unfortunately that doesn't make it a B language in the way we understand B language in conference interpreting. The requirements (in terms of articulacy, range, register and style) for conference interpreting are really extremely high. A rough guide, and starting point, would be to say that you should speak the foreign language to the standard of a university educated native-speaker (or equivalent), or better.

This is often a nasty surprise for students applying to interpreting school. You get used to people telling you that you speak X or Y language really well (because compared to most people you do) but then when faced with the requirements of the conference interpreting world you are suddenly confronted with "sorry, it's not good enough".

Don't be put off though. A combination like ABCC doesn't mean you can't learn to speak your C languages well! So if you're thinking about studying interpreting pick your best foreign language as B and leave the others as Cs.

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answered 21 Sep '12, 11:41

Andy's gravatar image


...I'll let colleagues currently teaching field from experience what I think your actual question is, ie can a candidate have more than one B language, let me just ascertain, possibly in everyone's interest, whether you do mean what you write.

A B-language does NOT have to be EN or FR, it can be any language... although of course not all schools offer all languages, be they at A, B or C level, so you would always have to make sure what the best match would be vis-à-vis your language combination... but do you actually mean more than one B-language or a B language that's neither EN nor FR?

You ARE aware of the fact that you may well speak several languages, namely IT & SP, but that does not necessarily mean that those or any other languages you may happen to speak are B-languages, right?

Finally, no such thing as a silly question, only silly answers... believe you me, I should know :-).

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answered 13 Sep '12, 10:41

msr's gravatar image


edited 13 Sep '12, 10:43

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question asked: 12 Sep '12, 18:10

question was seen: 6,500 times

last updated: 21 Sep '12, 11:41 is a community-driven website open to anyone with questions and/or answers about interpreting, i.e. spoken language translation

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