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I currently attend the Peterborough City college ESOL course. I am a Polish national. I would like to be an interpreter in the future but at the moment I cannot do it at a professional level. I require specialist training and qualifications. I would like to find a route through which to acquire the necessary language skills although not necessarily as a conference interpreter. My question is: Do you know of any possible way to improve my language skills to enable me to accomplish this? I cannot afford to join expensive courses at the moment. I could, however, work as an assistant interpreter.

asked 28 Apr '13, 06:49

Marek%20W's gravatar image

Marek W

edited 30 Apr '13, 10:58

Nacho's gravatar image

Nacho ♦

Marek, see all questions tagged with "self-trainig" (click on the tag below your question).

(30 Apr '13, 11:00) Nacho ♦

First things first: Languages. There's no magic trick. A lot of how-to-learn-them discussions can be found on the internet. Trial & error. What works for some doesn't for others. Just make sure to learn as much the language as the culture(s) of the country(ies) where the language is spoken.

I've picked up a lot of skills by watching a lot -I mean a LOT- of TV shows and reading (browsing the we for years mainly, but good old books too). The main advantage is that it doesn't hurt, often doesn't even feel like working.

Later on, the interpreting part. Nowadays, you can /should enroll in a conference interpreting course. There barely are any self-taught interpreters anymore. And why experiment on your own when you can have decent training in a university? To find an institution that offers a post-graduate course with your language combination, go to

In any case, your languages must be at a very high level BEFORE you start your interpreting training. As for working as an assistant interpreter: It's hard for people who graduated in conference interpreting to find pro-bono work to improve their skills, let alone paid assignments to make a living. A certain financial independence will be necessary to survive before your career kicks off. It might take years before you can make a living only from interpreting.


answered 28 Apr '13, 16:11

Gaspar's gravatar image


edited 28 Apr '13, 16:11

Although there are some self-taught interpreters with Polish A (more so in consecutive than in simultaneous interpreting, though), it is highly recommended to attend a course in order to develop the right technique and get regular feedback from experienced interpreters. Have you considered going back to Poland for a year or two to study conference interpreting? There are post-graduate courses in Warsaw (EMCI) and Krakow, both quite expensive if you earn your living in Poland, but still much cheaper than many courses abroad. There are also 2-year M.A. studies in Poznan, which are free of charge (if you have not graduated with M.A. from any Polish university, I think).

If you want to work for the EU, remember that English is not enough, you need at least one or two more C languages (those that you interpreter from but not into).

All of that is relevant for conference interpreting but conference interpreting is not the only option, as you've mentioned. You could also try e.g. public interpreting.

Most importantly, work on your languages. ESOL is just a start, your English has to be as good as possible. At the same time, you should not neglect your Polish, which may be an easy thing to do when you're living abroad and focusing on your English. The native language is probably the most important capital of an interpreter.


answered 01 May '13, 04:59

Joanna's gravatar image


edited 01 May '13, 06:54


You should find some useful ideas about training to be a conference interpreter here...

Advice to students wishing to become conference interpreters Obviously some of those tips will also apply to other types of interpreting.

For language enhancement ideas try Interpreter Training Resources' language pages

or (please prepare for, and excuse, a shameless plug)...

...this book, Conference Interpreting A Student’s Practice Book by yours truly - a quarter of which (50 or more different exercises) is devoted to improving language skills at the very advanced levels required of would-be interpreters.

Good luck


answered 17 May '13, 06:55

Andy's gravatar image


edited 17 May '13, 07:03



I found a lot of videos on YOU TUBE NN Interpreting UC Berkeley Haas US translation DH Conference 2012 AR Interpreter WAD Conference Interpreter Trainers Khan Academy Yale University Courses United Nation speech Pool


answered 29 Apr '13, 11:17

isabellepetiet's gravatar image


Finding practice material isn't quite the challenge. Knowing how to use it, without proper guidance and feedback is. It's like having a race car and wanting to learn all by yourself how to pilot it. The odds are that you'll crash & burn in the first turn if you try to learn on your own.

Also, you'll be lacking the network, the ethics, and all the other knowledge that you need to be taught, besides the pure interpreting technique.

(29 Apr '13, 11:59) Gaspar

I think you all a bit harsh voting Isabelle down... the actual question (tho not the headline question) was how to improve language skills, and some of the material she lists is very useful for improving both language knowledge and the closely related area of general knowledge. The Khan academy is brilliant as a preparation tool, listening material or for improving general knowledge. Following university lectures online is also good language work. But I wouldn't recommend interpreting (or trying to) from them. They are often very detailed and make up part of a much longer series of lectures of classes - so taken out of context aren't reasonable interpreting practice material.

(17 May '13, 07:07) Andy
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