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Dear Seniors:

I'm keen at becoming an SI(A: Chinese; B: English), and I plan to attend the examination for Sino-European Senior Interpreter Training Program hosted by University of International Business and Economics (UIBE) this year. The examination will be in mid of this April, and I settle down for an exam-oriented preparation, any advice for me? Thanks for your kindness in advance.

Every senior, either professor at this program or not, and any new hand like me, seniors who ever attended to similar exams, and others are welcome to answer this questions. I'm most appreciated for all your attention.

My profile: an English major, worked for 8 years after graduation mainly as interpreter/translator in varioius companies; read some books concerning SI, and practised note-taking, etc.

Best regards


asked 09 Jan '14, 03:43

Paris%20Si%20de%20Chine's gravatar image

Paris Si de ...

edited 09 Jan '14, 05:07

Nacho's gravatar image

Nacho ♦

Dear Nacho:

Thanks for your help in editting. Your adding tag "target.students" makes me feel warm, which shows your/or even AIIC's concern to would-be successors. Thanks again.

Best regards


(09 Jan '14, 20:18) Paris Si de ...

Thank you for giving me the chance to give a public answer to a question that comes up time and time again!

The best advice I'd give is simply: don't. Don't try and prepare for the exam. Entrance exams at good interpreter schools do not test any pre-determined material, and they don't have any particularly surprising tasks for you. It's better just to get a full night's sleep. I can say this as someone who has himself taken the test for a similar course in 2005, and who knows what the major Chinese-language courses do in this respect.

Of course, you do need to have finished your undergraduate degree, and have a bit of life (and hopefully work) experience in order to get accepted by the course. Your English also needs to be extremely good before you apply - they don't teach English, they teach interpreting technique. Presumably these aren't problems for you, but I'm putting this paragraph in for other people who read this thread.

1: In general terms, if you have to remember one thing, let it be this: interpreters are people who love communication. Many of us love the spotlight and even have backgrounds in the theatre or other performance art. It's a very different profession from written translation, at any rate. Being good at one certainly doesn't mean you are any good at the other.

2: Most of the experienced interpreters who are successful on the private market at the moment will agree that the best interpreters are people who have wide-ranging background knowledge, an active interest in current affairs, and a high level of intellectual curiosity. It also helps if you're interested in people.

3: Many of the best interpreters (and trainees) come from non-language backgrounds. I didn't do languages at university, if that's of any help. Many people seem to assume that interpreting is just a logical extension of English (or foreign language) ability. It is not. English skills are a precondition, nothing more. Being good at English does not make you a good public speaker, lawyer, international businessperson or tour guide. No serious interpreting course devotes significant amounts of time to improving your English, and there are much better ways to do so - such as by moving to an English-speaking environment for a period of time, such as the Philippines or Malaysia. 翻译(口译)不是英语学习的最高境界。

4: It's not always suitable for fresh graduates aged 21-22 to do interpreting courses - like MBA or other executive courses, they demand a certain amount of life experience. AIIC says on its website that one of the requirements for becoming an interpreter is "world experience away from home and school and a broad general education". Indeed, many people only discover that they enjoy interpreting by coincidence, and at a later stage in life (25-30). It's a very small industry, very specialised, and is generally not very well known. But it's perfectly possible to keep on interpreting up to the age of about 65-70 - people get better with experience.

5: You only really do well in interpreting if you're motivated by your interests. It's not possible to be interested in everything, but an interest in general current affairs and in communicating (see above) is a must. Make sure you keep up to date with good current affairs publications (eg, The Economist, Project Syndicate, The Diplomat, The Atlantic, perhaps even the Sinica Podcast ) - but don't try to memorise them, or, even worse, 'interpret' passages from them.

6: Some links:

On preparing, and things you need to have done before you start a course:

On whether and how to enter the profession:

Interpreting schools:

Hope that this is of some use.

permanent link

answered 09 Jan '14, 15:40

William%20White's gravatar image

William White

Dear William:

You are most welcome. ;) And I owe you a lot of debt as your answer is in some way a direct answer from UIBE, and your comment for my language level, a big encouragement.

To be frank, I do not get it when I read this thread first time. When I try to digest it a second time, I discover your answer instructs the necessary prerequisites to be good at SI, as a career, not as a tool simply to make a living.

Yes, it requires (please allow me to summarize here, thanks.)

1)a suitable character (love of stage, esp. as a Leo star sign),

2)intellectual curiosity about things and people,

3)understanding of life & society based on experience,

4)love of communication,

5)keeping abreast of current affairs. You reminded not to memorize/ interpret the passages; so shall we just read them as a subjective reader, dive into the thoughts, even fight the ideas or the author? thanks.

6)other special skills.

(From a horoscope’s perspective, I take it as a combination of Leo, aquarius, pisces, twins, even virgin. )

And thanks a lot for all the links.

Thanks for your kind and generous sharing of insights again. :)

Best regards

Paris Si

(09 Jan '14, 21:44) Paris Si de ...

Dear William:

Thanks for your excellent answer, which should be accepted. Yet, please excuse me for leaving this question open to allow more ideas/ opions to come up. Thanks.

In addition, I have a question. I went through the links proposed by you, and found they are very interesting. But you recommended not to interpret the articles, may I know why? I ever attended an interpretation course, during which a teacher ever suggested us doing sight interpretation with newspaper. To be frank, in my eyes, newspaper and these magazines they are of same nature. I seems like I made a big mistake. Please help to explain, thanks a lot in advance.

Best regards

Paris Si

(09 Jan '14, 22:38) Paris Si de ...

Hi there, glad it's of some use. It's technically not a "direct answer from UIBE" , it's written entirely in a personal capacity.

Practising sight or consecutive interpretation with a newspaper is not advisable at all. Interpreters work with live speech, not with written words, so any practice material used should be oral or oralised. News articles tend to be far too information-dense for practice purposes.

Sight translation is practised so as to pave the way for SI with text. It follows that the material you use for practice should be real written speeches.

And anyway, given that you're trying to get in to the UIBE course, which will (re-)teach you interpretation building up from first principles (memory exercises etc), why try to practise "interpretation" before your time? My experience at GIIT (Shanghai) some years ago was that I had to un-learn various bad habits I had accumulated as an untrained interpreter.

There are slightly more detailed hints given in the first link in point 6. MIIS gives you perhaps too many things to do here - but it's worth a look.

I don't know of any consensus view on star signs, blood types, Myers-Briggs personality types or the like.

(10 Jan '14, 05:03) William White

Dear Willliam:

Thanks for your sincere reply. It removes my doubt. Yes, interpretation should work with oral material, never goes with written ones.

And thanks for your advice about self-training and schooling, which is very practical and helpful. 

Best regards


(11 Jan '14, 02:22) Paris Si de ...
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question asked: 09 Jan '14, 03:43

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