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Hello all! Hopefully this won't be too long.

I am a freelancer translator and certified court interpreter. My dream of dreams is to work for an organization like the EU or UN. A native speaker of English, I am interested in the following combination:

  • A - English
  • B - Italian*
  • C - Spanish
  • C - French

*Italian could actually be a quasi-A for me (I'm erring on the side of prudence here in underestimating my skills). I hold dual U.S./Italian citizenship, have lived, worked and studied in Italy and have been translating/interpreting Italian since 2003. I am confident in stating that my Italian is at least a B.

Will it be possible to find a school offering an ABCC combination for an English A? I would even take an ACCC and downgrade my Italian (I'm assuming I can always later on upgrade it to a B once I actually find work) so as not to give up one of my C languages. The reason I don't want to give up either C is simple: though I live in Europe and the immediate goal would be to work for the EU, should I ever move back to NYC (where I'm from), the most logical step would be to try for the UN, of which Spanish and French are official languages. In that case, my Italian--though my strongest foreign language--would serve me very little. Thus it's imperative I keep Spanish and French.

I'm completely open to going to school again in Italy (I hear it's more plausible that an Italian A must have an ABCC or ACCC combination whereas English A speakers can eke by with an ABC or ACC).


asked 10 Dec '13, 17:22

a_defalco's gravatar image


edited 24 Jun '14, 03:26

Delete's gravatar image

Delete ♦

Thanks so much for your replies, everyone! I will consider both Geneva and Paris as well as the UK. I want that ACCC combo, so I think the UK will be out of the loop unless I can finagle an extra class here or there.

(12 Dec '13, 10:12) a_defalco

With EN A

  • [edited] For the EU, FR as C seems to be interesting, according to the languages in demand list.

  • The UN is mostly looking for people with Russian as a passive language. Every second or third EN A conference interpreting student has ES-FR as passive languages.

  • On the private market, since virtually all schools in Italy train people with some retour (English being the most common), competition would be hard on a limited market.

  • Bottomline: If you want to have a decent income, you probably should learn German for the EU or Russian for the for the UN. And then only consider embracing a master in conference interpreting.

With IT A

Provided you have a sufficient A level in Italian, EN-FR-ES C (later on EN B) would get you accredited as a freelance interpreter. You probably still would have to add an other language in the long run.

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answered 10 Dec '13, 17:48

Gaspar's gravatar image

Gaspar ♦♦

edited 10 Dec '13, 18:38

Hi Gaspar,

Thanks for the reply. So if I'm understanding what you're saying... English A, Italian B, French/Spanish C is not a good combination? If I may be so bold as to ask, then what combinations do English A students study? Does everyone have an 'exotic' language? Would I really be turned away?

(10 Dec '13, 17:53) a_defalco

One more thing: I've just checked your link. It says for English A speakers a combination of ACC (French OR German C1) is in demand or AB (I'm assuming this is for Russian?). So now I'm confused at what you meant. Couldn't I still have an Italian B and a Spanish C as 'extra', while maintaining the same French C? I'm not sure how having other passive C languages would be to my detriment.

NINJA EDIT: I see the asterisk now. (RU or AR could be taken into consideration as one C of an ACCC combination for FR and DE, and after other EU priorities as one C of an ACC combination for EN) What exactly does that mean in terms of an English A?

Thanks again.

(10 Dec '13, 17:55) a_defalco

Sorry, sorry, my bad! Indeed, French C in the EN booth would qualify you for an accreditation test. :-) And the more C languages you have, the better!

(10 Dec '13, 18:37) Gaspar ♦♦

And here I was absolutely, positively flipping out as if my whole life were a lie!

So to recap: I could in theory keep my EN A, IT B (or C if need be), FR C and SP C? Yay! I would love to add something like Dutch or German down the road, but as long as I have that French in there I'm in the clear for any other Cs I've got? Phew!

(10 Dec '13, 18:55) a_defalco

That was worth clarifying!! 3 C languages in the EN booth a very good start (and much more attractive to the EU that 3 C languages in the IT booth).

(11 Dec '13, 02:29) Andy

3 C languages in the EN booth a very good start and you'll find lots of schools that teach your combination (EN A + 3Cs, may be also with IT B) here

IT B is most useful if you want to work in Italy. There's probably work for EN A's with good Italian B on the private market there.

I don't think IT A offers you more than EN A (and your right to err on the side of caution)

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answered 11 Dec '13, 02:31

Andy's gravatar image


Thanks for your reply!

Okay, so with English A, Italian B (I'm okay with downgrading to C as long as I have Italian), French C I should be set? With adding Spanish C and Dutch C at a later date. As far as 'adding' languages goes, for the private market it's as simple as just starting to work in that language, but for the staff positions one must ask to be tested, correct?

I think after CI school (as I won't be able to choose a third C while studying... at least I haven't seen any English schools offering an ABCC or ACCC combination as of yet), I'll take 6 or so months to take a refresher course in Spain. Couldn't hurt!

One more thing: after one graduates a CI school, can you sit a test for a language you weren't taught in school? I.e. could I in theory go to an ACC school but sit the exam for Italian, Spanish AND French? I'm sort of confused how that system works.

Once again, thanks!

(11 Dec '13, 03:17) a_defalco

"could I in theory go to an ACC school but sit the exam for Italian, Spanish AND French?" Yes.... but Make sure you get things in the right order... you will have to have French to be employable in the EU and UN. So it's best to study with French. And if you need a refresher in Spanish, do it before you study interpreting with Spanish, not after. Otherwise you risk failing your course because of weak Spanish. But yes, FR and IT into EN could be a good enough start.

(11 Dec '13, 04:26) Andy

Hi Andy,

Thanks again. Re: Spanish--I wouldn't be able to study it officially within a conference interpreting school as I'm pretty sure I've only seen English schools offering one or two Cs. I'd be able to take weekend or night courses elsewhere, though. And after graduating, I'd still be able to, say, take a six month course in interpreting (just Spanish <> English) in Spain.

Or, is it possible to make a special request (if time and workload allow) and ask to take on an ABCC course load from the start? (EN-IT-FR-ES)

The thing is, I know I need both French and Spanish so I don't want to neglect one.

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answered 11 Dec '13, 08:33

a_defalco's gravatar image


edited 11 Dec '13, 08:34

OK, I understand. I don't know the details of schools of course, but I'm surprised to hear you can't do something as basic as ACCC into English with 3 mainstream languages like ES FR & IT

(11 Dec '13, 08:40) Andy

I would think so too! But I've not been able to find anything stating the contrary in any English school:

Leeds- "MACITS - 2 languages: Students train to work from two foreign languages into their mother tongue. For example, if your mother tongue is English, you might work from French and German into English."

London Met- "MA level: English and one or two other languages."

Manchester- "Profile 1: students who have English as their native language (A language) and two passive foreign languages (C languages). These students will be trained in both types of interpreting out of both C languages into their A language."

Salford- (Doesn't even have Italian!) "You will work into and out of English with one language (Arabic, Mandarin Chinese, French, German, Spanish) or from two languages (Arabic, Mandarin Chinese, French, German, Spanish) into English."

Heriot Watt- (No Italian either!) "Students attend language-specific workshops in which they practice consecutive and simultaneous interpreting between their chosen languages (from French, German and Spanish), following a programme of appropriate speeches."

Am I missing any?

(11 Dec '13, 08:47) a_defalco

Have you considered studying in France? The schools are prestigious.

I think you'd need a french A or B for ESIT, but it looks like as long as you have french and english somewhere you can get into ISIT. They even seem to accept combinations more complex than what you have ( ) :

ABC, ABBC, ACCC ou toute autre combinaison plus riche ; dans ce cas, l’anglais et le français, toujours obligatoires, peuvent être des langues A, B ou C.

(11 Dec '13, 09:07) simplexe

When I was reading about the ESIT admission criteria four years ago or so, it was enough to have French in the language combination (so French C would do). Both ACCC and ABCC combinations were offered. This is definitely worth checking.

(13 Dec '13, 07:16) Joanna

Ditto... why limit yourself to the UK. I would imagine there are schools in France, Italy, Spain (and I think Portugal) that would take you.

(14 Dec '13, 03:53) Andy

Agree! I didn't know until this thread I could study outside of the UK or Italy. Italy for me is out since I think English A, Italian B is the way to go.

An ABCC is great for me (or even ACCC). I think ETI or ISIT are for me (I say ISIT over ESIT because they have Dutch and I might be able to tack on some extra Dutch classes if my schedule allows). I'll apply to all that I can though.

Thanks again!

(14 Dec '13, 03:58) a_defalco
showing 5 of 6 show 1 more comments

Hi, I'd also recommend an English A. I am sure your teachers will then be able to give you advice regarding the rest. Have a look at the Geneva school, too. They do offer courses for English As All the best Angelika

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answered 11 Dec '13, 12:34

Angelika's gravatar image


Je confirme que votre combinaison linguistique A-B-C-C est possible à l'ESIT, avec une petite réserve, à savoir qu'il y ait au moins 3 ou 4 étudiants avec l'italien dans leur combinaison pour justifier l'organisation de cours pour l'italien. C'est généralement le cas. Le FR et l'EN sont obligatoires, mais peuvent être indifféremment A, B ou C. EN en A est a priori préférable à l'IT en A.

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answered 13 Dec '13, 15:53

leprof's gravatar image


votre combinaison linguistique A-B-C-C est possible à l'ESIT, avec une petite réserve, à savoir qu'il y ait au moins 3 ou 4 étudiants avec l'italien dans leur combinaison pour justifier l'organisation de cours pour l'italien. C'est généralement le cas. Le FR et l'EN sont obligatoires, mais peuvent être indifféremment A, B ou C. EN en A est a priori préférable à l'IT en A.

Je voudrais vous remercier pour votre aide et les informations que vous m'aviez fournies. Elles m'ont été extrêment utiles!

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answered 13 Dec '13, 16:03

a_defalco's gravatar image


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question asked: 10 Dec '13, 17:22

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