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Hey I'm a 4th Year BA Chinese student at SOAS in London and want to find out what is the best place I could possibly go to in order to kickstart my career in Conference Interpreting??

asked 16 Feb '13, 15:03

Shadow147's gravatar image


edited 17 Feb '13, 03:38

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Just a clarification: are you Chinese or English (or something else)? and are you about to kickstart a career practicing as a conference interpreter or are you looking for a place to get proper training? Can you interpret both into English and into Chinese (are you fluent enough in both languages?) and do you have any other language (passive or active)?

(20 Feb '13, 16:45) Danielle

I'm a native English speaker. As of yet, I have no real qualifications as a professional interpreter.

I hope to practice Conference Interpreting as a full-time career in the future, and so (after further intensive pure language training), I hope to take a Masters course in Conference Interpreting.

I can interpret from Chinese into English, I hope to be able to interpret into Chinese after further language training. If I had to quantify, I'd say I'm semi-fluent in Mandarin, or a little better.

I am also semi-fluent in French and German, although these are rather rusty after years of pure Chinese study.
I also have conversational Cantonese, Japanese, Spanish and basic Arabic.

(21 Feb '13, 10:43) Shadow147

Hi Shadow,

Sorry about the belated reply, but I was waiting for some expert advice from China to be more specific. This is what a trusted colleague/trainer from China has to say:

“I would suggest that you look into the conference interpreting program at NTNU in Taiwan:

Graduate Institute of Translation and Interpretation (GITI), National Taiwan Normal University (NTNU)

This is a well-run program that to the best of my knowledge fully meets all AIIC criteria. The instructors are top-notch professional conference interpreters. The course leader, Dr. Tze-wei Chen, has a PhD in economics from Cornell, an MA in Conference Interpreting from Monterey, and is an active member of AIIC.

The only potential drawbacks would be, because the program is located in Taiwan, that (1) the language spoken there is slightly different from the standard usage on the mainland and (2) the domain emphasis will be more on economics and business than on international politics, institutions, intergovernmental discourse... Both of these drawbacks are certainly manageable and would likely be more than made up for in quality of teaching and overall organization of the program.

On the mainland, you could also consider doing either:

Personally, I would add that Monterey is a good school for English-Chinese training, but as an English A you’d be better off getting your training in China, as you’d be able to work on your Chinese. Luigi is right. With this language combination, you need to be able to work bothways, in consecutive and in simultaneous.

I hope this helps...

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answered 07 Mar '13, 10:21

Danielle's gravatar image


I'm sorry to bump an old thread but I was wondering if you could expand a little bit on your comments about Beijing and Shanghai Danielle?

I was under the impression that the chinese themselves and many people abroad consider BeiWai the best school in China, but "Beijing, known for its large student intake and a pass rate of virtually 100%" hardly sounds like a ringing endorsment. Did you mean that the pass rate is high to get into the school, to get your diploma at the end or both? Does that mean that the diploma lacks prestige? Is that why it's not registered on the AIIC website?

I've heard some mixed opinions about ShangWai, if it turns out to be the best school in China this might simply means that it'd be a better idea to study elsewhere, for example in France in my case...

edit : in case you still have access to your chinese colleague, could you also ask him for his opinion on GuangDong University of foreign studies?

(09 Nov '13, 16:16) simplexe

I will enquire.

(09 Nov '13, 16:54) Danielle

Wow I was afraid you'd never see my message, never expected you to respond in minutes!!

Thanks a ton for your help, it's very much appreciated.

(09 Nov '13, 17:52) simplexe

Right, if you're French A then I'd say that the only places that can train you properly are ISIT and ESIT in Paris, and possibly Monterey as well. I was trained professionally for French C at Shangwai but some of the people have changed since then. Mainland Chinese universities, to the best of my knowledge, don't train people well with French at all, and the cooperation between BLCU (another Beijing university) and ISIT in Paris has only just started, and isn't working smoothly yet. Better not to take any risks. Of course, if the main benefit for you is Chinese immersion, then BLCU is worth considering - you may be their first person to do 2 years and then 1 successful year in Paris. Be careful though - the BLCU campus is about 65% foreign students (mostly homesick 21-year-olds who drink too much) so you have to work hard to make sure you're "immersed" among the right people. It's possible, though - I had mostly Chinese friends when there from 1998-99, including a Chinese flatmate.

I know nothing about Guangwai, sorry. An AIIC member in Guangzhou, Zhan Cheng seems to be involved with their teaching, he might know.

Best wishes ww

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answered 21 Dec '13, 09:27

William%20White's gravatar image

William White


Stop press - Shangwai (SISU) now has a French-Chinese programme up and running. One of the instructors is Céline Garbutt, an AIIC member who is active on and may be willing to answer a couple of questions.

(01 Sep '14, 12:25) William White

Hi Shadow,

I see your question has been here for a week without an answer, so let me give you a short, general one. I do not have Chinese in my language combination so I cannot give you more specific advice. Perhaps getting this thread going will attract some attention to it.

First, I would assume from your comments that you are thinking of studying interpreting with just the Chinese/English combination. If that is indeed the case, you will have to become capable of interpreting from and into each of these languages. Since you say that you are now semi-fluent in Chinese, the first order of business should be to improve your level of Chinese. To do that you should consider living (perhaps even working) and studying for at least a year in a Chinese-speaking country before undertaking an MA in conference interpreting - that would certainly be the best way to improve you Chinese on all fronts. And at the same time you would likely learn more about the pros and cons of various MA programs.

As for schools, search the AIIC directory of interpreting schools and programs for the pair Chinese/English. You will find one school each in China and Taiwan, and others in the UK, US , Canada and France. As I implied above, I will leave it to others to comment on specific schools.

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answered 22 Feb '13, 19:25

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edited 23 Feb '13, 06:01

Thank you very much Luigi!

Yes, I am in fact in the process of applying for a scholarship for a full year of Chinese language study at Yunnan Normal University in China.

Again thank you for the advice-- I am currently just looking towards the future and trying to get some ideas as to where would be a good place to study for my Masters when the time comes.

I have heard some people mentioning that Monterey Institute of International studies is a good place for the Chinese/English combination, but I haven't heard anyone explaining exactly why that is.

I hope others can now tell me about specific schools.

(24 Feb '13, 13:05) Shadow147

Re: Monterey. The program in general is solid, The facilities are good. I know that the Chinese program has fulltime Chinese native speakers with solid credentials on staff, and fulltime native English staff with solid credentials as well to cover the into EN side.

(07 Mar '13, 10:30) Luigi

I can't speak for Beiwai, but two points for your consideration below. Furthermore, if you get the scholarship to Yunnan university, you will have opportunities to travel to Beijing and Shanghai and visit interpreting schools on-site.

  • there is a third option. UIBE (University of International Business and Economics) has a two-year full-time interpreter training programme set up together with the EU (SCIC, the Commission's interpreting service; they mostly support in the form of external examiners and curriculum design). It's a small-scale course (max 10 per year) with a low pass rate and rigorous entrance, mid-point and graduation exams. I'm currently one of the instructors but am moving to New York soon.

The website is pretty poor and in Chinese only, but here it is:

One graduate of the programme is an English A and very active on the freelance market. Currently 2 of the instructors are English A as well (I'm one of them, an AIIC member, but will be moving city very soon). It's not perfect but pretty rigorous. It's been going since 2007 and while most graduates end up in in-house / ministry jobs, there are a good number doing well on the private market, doing the World Economic Forum annual thing in China every September (which is a kind of Woodstock for the Chinese booth) and generally making themselves known.

  • to the best of my knowledge, Shangwai (SISU Shanghai) still has one AIIC member on its teaching team, Harry Dai. I'm not sure what the current status of their course is institutionally, but the website remains . I'm a graduate of the programme (2007).
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answered 28 Nov '13, 06:48

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William White

Thanks for all the info William.

What would be your advice for a FR A ZH B EN C? It doesn't look like french is an option at UIBE, unless I'm missing something. What do you think of BLCU? I'm very interested by this program (from the chinese end). It's in 3 years (2 years in Beijing then 1 year at ISIT in Paris) but I figure I can have the benefits of the chinese immersion in Beijing, where I can get the technique and all the basics down, and then go to Paris for the prestigious degree and the AIIC teachers. I saw from your profile on Quora (sorry for stalking you) that you went to BLCU : did you like the school? Their translation and interpretation school's director (刘和平) seems to be pretty famous in french-chinese interpretation circles. But I'm a bit worried that their english program might not be up to par, when I contacted them they told me they were going to launch a ZH-FR-EN program in 2014, doesn't look like they're teaching english interpretation as of now.

Do you also know something about the GuangWai program maybe?

Sorry for the long question!

(28 Nov '13, 15:25) simplexe

Hi Shadow,

Sorry for the delay but we've just heard from a senior colleague in China and here is his advice:

  • Bei Wai is prestigious in China. Its graduates get good jobs in national ministries, central-level SOEs and Fortune 500 companies.

  • Bei Wai has more experienced professional interpreters on staff than any other university in China. And it certainly attracts some very strong students.

  • If you are a motivated and determined student with the right aptitudes, Bei Wai will definitely give you what you need to acquire solid interpreting skills.

  • I would especially recommend Bei Wai over any other school if you have English A, because the language environment in Beijing is the right one to improve your Chinese, and also because you will establish a great network of contacts from among your classmates.

  • This said, Bei Wai is not on the 'AIIC model". It has a very large intake of students each year and there is no streaming at all: all of them major in simultaneous interpreting. Nor is there a diploma examination at the end of the two years, so virtually everyone graduates. The best students are among the very best anywhere, but those at the bottom of the class really shouldn't be training as conference interpreters. Also, the training is strong on technique, but doesn't cover aspects like professionalism, ethics, practice of the profession, etc.

Despite these shortcomings, the bottom line is that Bei Wai is probably the best school on the mainland for SI training right now.

I hope this helps. Danielle

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answered 28 Nov '13, 02:56

Danielle's gravatar image


Thanks a lot for the response Danielle! I was the one that bumped the thread recently. From what I gather BeiWai really sounds like the best option, but I've heard that they don't take many foreigners in their interpretation programs, I guess I'll try to enquire with them.

(28 Nov '13, 15:06) simplexe

Well this is a little late maybe for this guy, but if I were you seeming how English is your native language I would go to a school in China. I would either go to the top Beijing school which is BeiWai or the one in Shanghai which is Shanghai International Studies University. Beijing may help you get a better accent at least according to some Chinese who think the Beijing accent is the best. Though in the end my team has used interpreters from both schools and other schools and it really comes down to just the individual and their talent not the school they attended. Even Google recently said that they no longer require top schools for their candidates, even though their founders came from top schools and originally made this an important factor, as the data they have been collecting says that the best schools isn't usually a high factor in an employees overall performance.

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answered 17 Aug '14, 02:25

Vivienne%20Ma's gravatar image

Vivienne Ma

edited 17 Aug '14, 10:17

Obviously this is an answer a little too late for Shadow, but in case it is relevant to others wondering: Glendon College in Canada now has a solid Chinese<>English program, where adding French is also an option. This two-year program operates on a unique model as the first year is taught entirely online, and the second year on-site.

For someone with English A, one obvious downside is that you will not have an environment for Chinese immersion, because the school is in Toronto. But since most applicants with Chinese<>English are Chinese A's, the location and its immersive English speaking environment can actually be a huge plus. The program is recognized by AIIC and there are aiic members teaching the Chinese<>English language pair.

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answered 23 Dec '19, 21:56

Rony's gravatar image


as you mention in your first point though, that "immersion" for English B/Cs only starts in the second year when students are actually physically present in Toronto

(03 Jan, 17:42) William White

Hi William, International students enrolled in the first year of the Glendon MCI course are eligible for a studnet visa to enter Canada. They are treated the same way as are students enrolled in other full-time graduate programs at York University. Of course this requires some paperwork and additional cost of housing, but if they choose to, Year 1 students CAN physically reside in Toronto so they can access the immersive English environment and other resources available at the university.

(03 Jan, 18:34) Rony
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question asked: 16 Feb '13, 15:03

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last updated: 03 Jan, 18:34

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