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I go to school for Culinary Arts but I'd prefer to be a translator/interpreter. I'm a native English speaker without any other language being spoken in the home. I've been learning German for about a year and half and I love it. What are some steps I can take to become a successful trans/inter? I would prefer to do international work as opposed to domestic and I was thinking of specializing in either business or technology and I've found a college that offers language majors: German, Russian, French, and Spanish, along with other language courses as minors. Would it be wise to add a C language?

asked 04 Jul '13, 12:46

CreeperNation's gravatar image


edited 04 Jul '13, 12:55

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Hi CreeperNation,

Welcome to

First, do you want to become a translator (written texts) or an interpreter (oral translation) or both? They are different professions and thus there are different ways of becoming one or the other. Also, there are different types of interpretation. You wrote that you would like to specialize in either business or technology. Would you like to interpret simultaneously in a booth (conference interpreting) or accompanying your client to, let's say, a (small) business meeting (as a liaison or escort interpreter)?

Anyway, I recommend that to take a look at the other questions tagged with "beginners". Just follow this link. And also visit this page and navigate through the menu on the left. It provides general but very useful information on how to become a conference interpreter. Hope it helps.

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answered 04 Jul '13, 13:08

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edited 04 Jul '13, 13:11

...hi there! You may be labouring under several misconceptions:

  • languages are to Translation or Interpreting what hands are to piano playing, in order to be able to do the latter you must have the former :-)...and then learn how to use same in a specialised manner, ie in this case learn Translation or Interpreting;
  • of course, while you'll be learning T or I you'll continue to learn languages - actually, you'll be doing so all of your life :-) - but you must have them at a very good level (considerably longer than the year-and-a-half you say you've been learning German) to begin learning T or I;
  • majors and minors are NOT what we mean by A/B/C :-) check this out: .

...good luck! :-)

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answered 04 Jul '13, 13:10

msr's gravatar image


edited 04 Jul '13, 14:10

Thanks for the answers!

I know I need to learn the languages first, that's why I want to study them at a college. That's the only way I can learn them to a point where I can be fluent. I know what is ment by ABC languages . I would like to be a liason as I understand what I would be doing in that case as opposed to booth translation. I don't know what that is.

(04 Jul '13, 14:05) CreeperNation

... "booth translation" is one of the many misnomers of simultaneous interpreting, one of the modes, along with consecutive (and whispered)of conference interpreting: the booth in question is a confined space,acoustically insulated and ventilated (hopefully!), with line of sight over room, screen, speaker etc where at least two CIs namely listen to what comes over our headphones and interpret it by speaking into a live microphone that takes our words to the headphones of those participants who do not understand the original.

(04 Jul '13, 14:21) msr

No offense but that sounds a bit boring. I think I would prefer being a liaison. Do trans/inters typically have degrees in their specialization or do they just take short courses? In either case, do the trans/inters focus only on the terminology and or do they have to actually demonstrate knowledge in their specialization? For example, if one were to specialize in Economics, would they need to demonstrate knowledge of supply and demand and calculate it or would they simply need to be able to explain it in both the native and target language?

(04 Jul '13, 21:06) CreeperNation

... good luck with your liaison studies! As to training and level thereof, the sky's the limit, I can think of occasions where Ph.D's would not only be useful in the booth, but actually were because some colleagues had them... and it showed. I'm afraid I am unfamiliar with training curricula for liaison, I can tell you that for CI the profession favours post-graduate training, after whatever first degree plus of course language proficiency.

(05 Jul '13, 08:54) msr

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answered 18 Aug '13, 17:25

robertgillder's gravatar image


PSI (Public Service Interpreting) might interest you then. I don't know where you intend to live and work but in Great-Britain you have the choice between a Master's degree of Interpreting (generally conference interpreting) or the DPSI (Diploma in Public Service Interpreting). It is a qualification offered by the Chartered Institute of Linguists addressed to those who want to interpret for the Public Services (Health, Law, Local Government) where people usually ask for liaison or whispered interpreting.

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answered 19 Aug '13, 10:47

Clara's gravatar image


Hello, i have a BA in Journalism and Spanish Linguistics. I have always had to passion to learn both languages perfectly. Spanish was my first spoken language and English was my second language learned when i was five-years-old. I desire to be a court interpreter but have no one to to go for advice on how to start. I have taken a simple court interpreting class online to get me started and have been researching the rest. I feel that if i put all my heart and effort into studying and practicing i can pass the state certification test. But i would like some feed back on what i should prepare for. What should i focus on first to pass the written exam and later the oral...? And although i will be studying on my own would that be enough for me to become a certified court interpreter. What should i do to pick up experience in the field?

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answered 21 Aug '13, 23:08

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question asked: 04 Jul '13, 12:46

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