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Hi- I am planning on taking the entrance exam for l'ESIT in Paris for a (bilingual) Conference Interpretation MA. I am completely bilingual in both English and French, and consider them both to be language As. I was wondering how common this is in the interpretation world and what kind of job paths two language As will offer. Thanks for your help!

asked 26 Aug '13, 11:31

OrianeRo's gravatar image


edited 27 Aug '13, 04:51

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Double As are indeed very rare. Many people who are normally considered bilingual are able to pass the entrance exams only with one of their languages as their A. Some candidates fail the exams because none of their languages is up to the A standard.

That said, having two A languages is obviously an advantage, although I am not sure whether it is really all that different from an AB combination (with a strong B language). Depending on the training, an interpreter with AA in the language combination may work from all the other languages into both As (but there are also some interpreters who work from C to B, although it is not common either).

With AA you can work at the private market where biactive interpreters are needed. For the institutional market you need more languages. Then you could pass the tests for the booth of your choice, depending on the needs of the institutions. Still, it would probably be wise to choose your strongest combination for tests - the one which would give you the best chances to pass - considering how many non-bilingual interpreters fail e.g. the EU accreditation tests because their A language is not good enough.

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answered 26 Aug '13, 13:57

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Thanks! So the private market does have a stronger demand for biactive interpreters, that's good to know. I'm guessing private market interpreters are freelancers then? Do they tend to have a specialty area or do they also work for a variety of businesses and organizations?

(27 Aug '13, 08:40) OrianeRo

Pour ce genre de questions d'ordre général, jette un oeil au site d l'AIIC qui te donnera un aperçu de la profession : ou encore

(27 Aug '13, 11:50) Gaspar ♦♦

Let me also chip in - speaking from personal experience - by adding that NOTHING will zap that 'I grew up bilingual, I have these languages down!' idea like a conference interpreting course. Particularly when you get to sim. And that can be tough going in the beginning, but really it's just the jumping off point for improving all your languages more than you thought possible.

Of course, it may be the case that this doesn't apply to you at all - just wanted to point out that if it does, things do get better, and when they do, all the pain is worth it!

Otherwise, I agree with Joanna - in many instances an AA is no different than an AB combo, which is very useful on the private market :)

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answered 27 Aug '13, 06:12

Louise's gravatar image


Bonjour, Désolé pour ma remarque qui pourra vous sembler brutale : mais votre commentaire en français un peu plus haut démontre que le français n'est pas une langue A : négations manquantes et autres fautes de français. Je ne veux pas vous accabler, mais à la lecture de ces quelques lignes, on est plutôt en présence d'un (petit) B.

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answered 07 Sep '13, 16:24

leprof's gravatar image


Avoir grandi dans une structure familiale ou scolaire bilingue n'est pas nécessairement synonyme d'un double A acquis. Ne serait-ce qu'un B est déjà pas mal :

"La langue ‘B’ telle que pratiquée au niveau le plus élevé en conférence (…) est donc une deuxième langue (...) qui dépasse sensiblement le niveau de langue du ressortissant lambda, même diplômé universitaire, du pays en question." Source :

Le même document t'expliquera plus en détail les exigences d'une combinaison biactive, de sa pertinence et des marchés sur lesquels tu peux travailler.

Mais comme l'a dit Joanna, nombreux sont les aspirants interprètes qui aimeraient avoir ne serait-ce qu'une langue A au dessus de tout soupçon, donc si tu as une combinaison AB solide, c'est déjà bien ! Quelles autre(s) langue(s) maitrises-tu qui pourrai(en)t devenir une/des langue(s) C ?

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answered 27 Aug '13, 04:27

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Gaspar ♦♦

Merci pour les commentaires et le lien! C'est vrai que j'ai pas encore commence l'ecole d'interpretation donc j'ai une moins bonne idee des exigences demandees! Je comprends assez bien l'allemand, par contre j'ai jamais vecu dans un pays germanophone (et je crois qu'il me faudra plus d'etudes d'allemand pour passer le concours). Et pour etre admise a l'ESIT avec une langue C je crois bien qu'il faut avoir vecu un certain nombre te temps dans un pays qui parle cette langue. J'ai bien raison?

(27 Aug '13, 11:20) OrianeRo

Private market interpreters are indeed mostly freelancers. I would say most of them have their preferred specialty areas but they also accept other assignments and then spend more time on preparation. Freelance conference interpreters usually work for a variety of businesses, organizations, institutions and/or translation agencies - as a freelancer, you need to diversify.

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answered 27 Aug '13, 12:14

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question asked: 26 Aug '13, 11:31

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