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Dear community,

In addition to my working languages English and French, I have been learning Swedish for some time now because it is a language very dear to me and rather easy-going to learn for German natives, like me.

However, I've come to realize that in fact, there is apparently little or no need for SV > DE interpretation within the EU institutions. Since it is still my ambition to at least apply as a SCIC-freelancer after graduating, I am now contemplating dropping Swedish and adding another language instead.

Seeing as I am located in Brussels now, Dutch would be quite convenient, I guess, but I have to admit that I am not as fond of the language as I am when it comes to Swedish.

Moreover, since the French natives at my university have been told that the somewhat "golden combination" in the French booth at the moment is EN/DE/NL, I was wondering wether this then works the other way around too, i.e. for the German natives a EN/FR/NL combination.

I would greatly appreciate your thoughts on Swedish and Dutch in general as working languages (especially for German natives), as well as any other ideas on the subject matter. Feel free to answer in English, French, German or Swedish!

asked 10 Feb '13, 11:31

KaPe's gravatar image


edited 24 Jun '14, 03:29

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I would stick with a language you like and you've already made some headway with (Swedish). You'll probably be better at it (because you like it) and you'll have it quicker. Learn Dutch later. Whatever you learn, it'll still take you a few years, so I hope you have a plan for the meantime.

I'm not in the DE booth, but I have a nasty feeling you'll need both SV and NL (in addition to your EN & FR) in the DE booth, where 4 C languages seems fairly standard.

You could also contact the Heads of the DE booth at the European Commission and Parliament and ask them straight up. They may tell you what they need this year and next, and that may be different to what they need in 5 years time, but at least it will be straight from the horse's mouth.

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answered 10 Feb '13, 14:32

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Hi Andy and thank you for your thoughts on this. I did contact the head of the DE booth at the EP and I've been told they obviously prefer 4 Cs but 3 C applications are not out of the question. This year, one German A interpreter even got in with only two Cs, and fairly standard ones (ES/EN) at that, but I reckon this remains the miracle exception to the rule. As for the choice of language however, they told me they could not possibly recommand anything because the needs are always changing but that, indeed, SV was not needed that often... I don't know if this is still on-topic but among students, I recall a lot of debates about wether it is just the amount of Cs you have in your combination or wether they ought to be "interesting" for the SCIC.

(10 Feb '13, 14:42) KaPe

Hi Karolin, and this is a problem for freelancers... the Institutions won't commit to what languages they want or need (and arguably they can't) but at the same time freelancers are being told they have to learn more languages if they want work (and that represents an investment of 4-7 years in most cases).

Even if you get lucky and pick a language that they do need now and for the next 5-10 years that's no guarantee against unpredictable shocks. In 2003 (-ish), for example, the way interpreting was paid for in the EU Council changed and demand for DA and SV shrank radically overnight and left those booths, or people with those languages high and dry. Last year the European Parliament cut it's recruitment to the EN and DE booths by 35 and 50% respectively. And there have undoubtedly been other booth-specific shocks over the last 10 years.

"Don't put all your eggs in one basket" is something I heard said many times. Where else could you work? Should you be adding an EN or FR B for example, to open up the private market?

(12 Feb '13, 03:30) Andy

Again, thank you for your thoughts! I think I'm drifting into the off-topic-zone but if you look at the greater picture, should you then even choose an university that solely offers ACC combinations ? I had to choose between Germersheim (ABC) and Marie Haps (ACC), and decided based on what at the time seemed to be the best option to get into the institutions. I don't regret it, but I am not sure I would not decide differently today.

However, in the spirit of not putting all my eggs in one basket, I am glad our university decided to offer retour classes starting next year- which is a good initiative, I think, as more and more students realise that getting into the DE or FR booth might be really, really tricky.

But, after all, as one trainer told us in order to comfort us about the small chances of working at the institutions : Just because you cannot get into Top Gun, doesn't mean you're not a good pilot...

(12 Feb '13, 06:04) KaPe

I would ask that as a separate question and see what answers you get from everyone else!

(12 Feb '13, 07:36) Andy
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question asked: 10 Feb '13, 11:31

question was seen: 8,468 times

last updated: 12 Feb '13, 07:36

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