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Hello everybody,

I am an Italian undergraduate student in modern languages. My combination ad Uni includes English and German, but I master also French. After my Bachelor I wish to undertake a Master's in Translation Studies, Conference Interpreting in particular, as I have always been fascinated by this profession, and I prefer to manage spoken language. Unfortunately, I feel I have not reached the right level for interpreting yet. I mean, my level in English and French is good, but this is not the case in German. I really love each of these languages but I'd love to have English as B language and the others as C. These are my dilemmas:

  • Would a combination like IT <> EN; DE,FR > IT be appropriate or 'attractive' for a career in the EU institutions? What about the private market?
  • Where is it better to study in order to maintain English as B language? Unfortunately studyin in the UK is too expensive for me at the moment, do you think that SSLMIT in Trieste or Forlì would be a valid alternative?
  • How does an interpreter add new C languages? Are there any specific courses?
  • Does age matter in the interpreting field? What if take a 'gap year' after my Bachelor, in order to live and work in a country to perfet my language skills?

Thanks to everyone who will read all this :)

asked 21 Apr '13, 10:02

Schwa's gravatar image


edited 21 Apr '13, 11:30

Delete's gravatar image

Delete ♦

I'm a 1st year conference interpreting student at the SSLMIT Trieste (English B, German C). From what I've heard/read, on the private market at least a B language is a must (especially in Italy)! In the European Institutions you "only" need to have at least 3 passive languages (the basic combination for the Italian booth is EN, DE, FR, but with a 'rare' language like Polish or Czech, you would be undoubtedly called to take the accreditation test). As regards the school, I studied both in Forlì for my B.A. and now, as aforementioned, I'm studying in Trieste for my M.A. Both are excellent schools, but the interpreting courses are slightly different: in Forlì you can only study two languages (either with a combination ABB or ABC), while in Trieste you can choose to have either an ABC (best for the private market) or an ACCC combination (best for the institutions). As far as the entrance test in Trieste is concerned, if you want to pass with a German B, you really need to have an excellent language level (consider that only 4 people passed with German B this year and they're all native speakers or bilinguals).

P.S.: age does not matter at all! Here are people over 30, who already graduated from other courses or even have a job. The more 'world experience' you have, the better interpreter you can be!

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answered 23 Apr '13, 15:34

Stefano's gravatar image


edited 23 Apr '13, 15:40

"if you want to pass with a German B, you really need to have an excellent language level (consider that only 4 people passed with German B this year and they're all native speakers or bilinguals)."

Since being both bilingual and bicultural is the definition of a (genuine) B language, I hope that admissions do meet these criteria each year. ;-) If so, it speaks in favor of the school!

(23 Apr '13, 18:23) Gaspar ♦♦

In Trieste only English, French and German can be studied as B languages and the bilingual-thing generally applies to German, but not to English or French (I myself have English as B language, even though I was not raised in a bilingual environment). It's true that the AIIC (or any other professional association) definition should by applied, but you also have to consider that the private market requirements are far different from professional criteria. Incidentally, I know that this is the case in Forlì and other countries, too.

(23 Apr '13, 18:54) Stefano

By the way, I think AIIC has updated the definition of B language (if I remember correctly...):

"A language into which the interpreter works from one or more of her/his other languages and which, although not a mother tongue, is a language of which s/he has perfect command. Some interpreters work into B languages in only one of the two modes of interpretation. In principle, an interpreter’s main active language is the mother tongue - the language in which the interpreter was formally educated and feels completely at ease.

An active language which is not the interpreter’s mother tongue can only be acquired after years of hard work and frequent stays in a country of that language. Usually, however, the second active language reaches a satisfactory standard only after many years of practice and is more suited to interpretation of technical discussions where lexical accuracy is more important than style or very discrete shades of meaning. It is customary only to work into the second active language out of the mother tongue.

The very rare case of true bilinguals, i.e. people whose personal circumstances have resulted in their having two "mother tongues", is the exception that proves the rule. Bilingual interpreters are much in demand, especially if they can offer a third language."

So, you see, true or, as you said, "genuine" bilinguals are just black swans in the lake of interpreting ;-)

(23 Apr '13, 18:58) Stefano

Hi there !

I am going to answer your questions but please bear with me, as I'm a still student, I can only repeat what we've been told over and over again by our interpreting trainers and other professionals.

Have you written to the head of the IT booth/the IT interpreting unit? They may have answers for you there regarding language combinations requested by the IT booth. On the private market, one B language is absolutely required; if you can: add two.

I don't know much about Italian interpreting courses, but from what I've heard from other students Trieste seems to offer a very good programme. If you do decide to add a German B, you might consider the University of Germersheim for your interpreting masters, they accept Italian native speakers and are one of the best.

There is an interesting discussion thread on this forum about adding a C-language, check it out!

Age does matter, to some extent, but taking one year off (or even two) won't hinder your interpreting career, IMHO. Quite to the contrary, actually!

I hope that was at least a bit helpful. Viel Erfolg!

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answered 23 Apr '13, 11:10

KaPe's gravatar image


edited 23 Apr '13, 15:14

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question asked: 21 Apr '13, 10:02

question was seen: 8,421 times

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