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Hi all, I figure this is quite a common query so hopefully somebody can help with tips!

I have English A, German C and Swedish C and am considering a career in interpreting after about three years of living and working abroad in my C languages, developing a working fluency from graduate-level. I tried a mock interpreting booth a few years ago and, despite the challenge, was fascinated by the mental gymnastics which seemed to be going on to make it possible.

I currently have a place on a UK MA course but have yet to accept it, as I feel a little foolish due to not having done my market research properly beforehand- does anybody know how valuable Swedish is as a C language, and as a result, how valuable my combination actually would be for finding work? Although Swedish is a rarer EU language, I figure that as its speakers' on the whole have such high levels of English, it may not be as valuable as a C with English A, which may make pursuing this path less advisable! I could probably bring it up to a B, but this may take a little while longer.

Thanks in advance for any advice.

asked 05 Jul '17, 13:31

Coille's gravatar image


Hi there!

Here is a link which shows the language profiles that are in demand at the EU. I hope it's up to date.

Andy is not 100 per cent right when he says the English booth is the only booth that allows interpreters to start with two passive languages. For instance, this year the German booth accepts two Cs as long as the Cs in question are FR and EN.

Back to you and your situation: it seems DE and Swedish would get you an accreditation test, but you should definitely think about adding French as Andy suggested, as it's the most spoken language at the EU after English. What I've noticed in the EU institutions is that there is quite often passive Swedish (particularly in the Council), which means the Swedes can speak their mother tongue when they take the floor, but have to listen to the rest of the debate in another language, almost invariably English. Sometimes Swedish is provided but the Swedish delegate speaks English anyway.

I doubt Swedish C is very useful outside the institutions, although in this video an interpreter/recruiter (from Geneva, I think) says there are some limited opportunities on the private market with Swedish. It sounds quite niche, so I wouldn't put all my eggs in that particular basket!!
Most interesting part for you starts at 10 minutes in.

All the best Sam

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answered 10 Jul '17, 10:46

Sam's gravatar image


edited 10 Jul '17, 10:48

Hi Sam, thanks for your reply with the links! That is very helpful. Yes, I figured that a lot of Swedish delegates would speak in English in any case, but it's good to know that there is still a market, and even a private market, if niche.

I only have a week or so to decide whether to do the course - mostly financial concerns and would have to move country - but now I'm wondering if it would be worth spending some more time with French before starting (and of course more time with German and Swedish would never be harmful)? I'm in my mid-twenties at the moment, not sure how earl or late people generally come to this profession, or whether it indeed matters so much :)

Thanks for your help again.


(22 Jul '17, 09:06) Coille

It's quite safe to assume that you'd have to learn a third language sooner or later. French is a fail safe option. There's no harm doing it sooner than later. I was recently assigned a mentee who is 30 and who had his first day of work as a conference interpreter just a few weeks ago. Ergo, no need to rush. Also, once you have French as a working language, you'll have access to more schools, and courses that are two rather than just one year long, which can't hurt either.

(22 Jul '17, 17:29) Gaspar ♦♦

Hi You should certainly contact the EU EN booth interpreting services (Commission and Parliament) to see what their view is but my feeling is that DE and SV would get you a test for the EN booth. But my advice would be to start learning FR now so you can add it later - the EU will want you to add something and they will suggest FR. (If you're brave you could pick another big language - ES IT) Only in the EN booth are we lucky enough to be able to start with 2 passive languages!

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answered 07 Jul '17, 10:57

Andy's gravatar image



Thank you Andy, that's really good to know! My French is something I would like to improve in any case (same for Italian), so it's good to have some added impetus... Do you if there are particular programmes of interpreting study which are recommended, or is it more about passing the test, regardless of background?

(09 Jul '17, 06:28) Coille

The EU doesn't favour any particular school - the test is a level playing field. However some schools prepare you better than others! (But that's another question altogether!)

(11 Jul '17, 09:49) Andy
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question asked: 05 Jul '17, 13:31

question was seen: 1,915 times

last updated: 22 Jul '17, 17:59 is a community-driven website open to anyone with questions and/or answers about interpreting, i.e. spoken language translation

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