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I am an undergraduate modern languages student at a British university. I was born in Singapore and in the first few years of my life I was raised bilingually in Polish and English. At the age of 4 I moved to Poland and although Polish eventually became my primary language, I never ceased to learn English and after having completed high school I decided to continue my education at a university level in the UK. Despite many people advising not to interpret into a language which we don't consider our native one, after two years of spending virtually all my time with native English speakers I do feel confident enough to possibly have a go at it. With the languages I know (Polish/English A/B, Portuguese/Spanish C) I have the following choices as regards the postgraduate course:

a) to study at the University of Warsaw; with Polish as A language, English as B and/or C, and Spanish C b) to study at the University of Leeds; with English as A language and Spanish/Portuguese C c) to study at the University of Lisbon which, according to my research, would be the most flexible option since the course supposedly allows the students to choose their language combinations; thus I could do the following: Polish and/or English as A, English and/or Polish as B and Spanish/Portuguese as C

I'd appreciate any advice as to what would be the most sensible choice considering the market demand, the quality of teaching offered by the said universities and the fact that I'd still find it slightly more problematic to interpret into English than Polish.

Thanks in advance for your help!

asked 11 Dec '13, 12:17

Loretta%20Kerouac's gravatar image

Loretta Kerouac

edited 11 Dec '13, 12:40

Vincent%20Buck's gravatar image

Vincent Buck

Czesc Loretta, Przyczytalam Twoje pytania i odpowiedzi na nie, jestem ciekawa na co w koncu sie zdecydowalas? Gdzie cie droga zaprowadzila?

(15 Nov '14, 02:32) Martaj

I would start with your real language combination and work backwards from there. Not from the school.

(Almost no one becomes an A if they weren't always bilingual, so no matter how good your EN is it's probably not an A, so there's little point trying to make it one. On top of that ES and PT without PL into EN is not a very promising combination.

So if you are PL A then it's Warsaw and Lisbon (according to your research - I don't know what Leeds offer).

Can't help on the relative quality of either school. They both send a lot of people to the EU in Brussels though - which is presumably what you're aiming at.

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answered 11 Dec '13, 14:31

Andy's gravatar image


edited 11 Dec '13, 14:48

Vincent%20Buck's gravatar image

Vincent Buck

Thank you for the prompt reply Andy. Would you be so kind to further elaborate on why ES + PT without PL is not a promising combination? And if that's the case, would PL make it more favourable?

Also, hypothetically, if I were to choose Leeds and have ES/PT as my source language, would there be a way for me to add PL as another source language even if it's not taught at the univerity?

(11 Dec '13, 16:19) Loretta Kerouac


If you have only ES & PT into EN you will not actually get much opportunity to interpret even if you are given contracts and even in the EU. The big languages are DE, FR, EN, IT (and ES) and the others are spoken much much less. So without FR or DE into EN the EU won't be that keen to employ you. With PL as well, you would at least have 3 languages and you would be more useful to them. But it's the same problem. They are not spoken that much, so you won't do much work. I bet the first thing you are told to do on arrival in Brussels is to add French, which is a bit harsh when you have 3 good languages.

You should check the above with the heads of the EN booths in the EU Commission and Parliament by the way. Policy changes, but this is my impression of what's happened over the last 10 years.

However, all this is academic, since you are a PL A. And I really see no advantage for you in trying to become an EN A. It's not impossible of course, just very unlikely. And there are non-native learnt A's in the EN booth in Brussels, but they tend to have non-EU A languages and so there's no other booth for them to work in. You have the PL booth, so why bother with the EN booth? In addition ES, PT and EN into PL is a better combination. My comments about ES & PT still apply, but EN into PL is a big part of the work in Brussels. I think the EU would be more likely to recruit for this combination.

On your last question, yes you can "add" Polish later by taking an accreditation test in it. But again... if EN isn't your A... don't!

(12 Dec '13, 05:00) Andy

I really appreciate your comments Andy, they do make the situation much clearer. I guess I'd better brush up on my French to get a head start then!

Once again, thank you!

(12 Dec '13, 11:00) Loretta Kerouac

Hi Loretta, As Conrado says below... I'm not really suggesting you do anything with your FR. I'm saying your natural combination is EN, ES & PT into PL and that it is already a good one.

(17 Jan '14, 02:32) Andy

Hi Loretta,

Maybe I am wrong but I think that brushing up your French wasn't exactly what Andy was suggesting you to do. He actually recommends you to study in a conference interpreting program with Polish A, you can study English as a B language and Spanish and Portuguese as C languages. You would be working EN, ES, PT into PL and PL into EN. This will require a lot of effort already as it is and it would be a very good language combination both for the EU institutions and for the Polish private market (where I guess that most of the freelance work is for the PL>EN>PL combination). Don't spread yourself too thin trying to add French now from scratch and try your outmost to excel in those languages you already have a good command of. My 2 cents. Good luck


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answered 14 Jan '14, 12:46

Conrado's gravatar image


edited 14 Jan '14, 12:48

Hi Conrado,

Thanks for your input and kind words of encouragement. When I mentioned the fact I was planning to brush up my french, I was merely referring to the fact, that there is a large market for both in-house and freelance interpreting in french-speaking countries. I did a 3-years course in French a long time ago, and even though I don't feel passionate enough about the language to pursue it professionally, now I know it might come handy in the future.


(14 Jan '14, 13:54) Loretta Kerouac
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question asked: 11 Dec '13, 12:17

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