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Hi everyone! I love this board. What a wealth of information; it's truly great. This might be a bit long-winded, so please stay with me. :)

I have been a freelance translator/interpreter for quite a while now and am just starting to consider conference interpreting as a possible career. As far as my educational background goes, I have an LLB in Global Law and an LLM in European Public Law from Tilburg University. I live in the Netherlands and I work from Italian, Spanish and French into English in a variety of fields; I specifically chose a law degree because working in an institution is very appealing to me.

I have a few questions, namely regarding both my language combination and where I could study conference interpreting.

Language Combination


ITALIAN C (I believe that this may actually be a B language. I often work from English into Italian; I have dual Italian citizenship, have lived, worked and studied in Italy and am equally as comfortable speaking and writing Italian in a number of registers and contexts from the most informal to the most formal)




If I wanted to add another language, say Dutch (which I am confident I speak at least a B1 level) or German (which I only speak at a basic level), which one should I choose to be most attractive to EU organizations? I am okay with taking off a few years before even applying to a conference interpreting program just to get it up to a B2/C1 level. Ideally, I would love to speak both but I wonder which one I should concentrate on now: Dutch which I already speak and can continue to learn organically by living here or German, which might be a better choice for the institutions?

Where to Study

Putting in "Italian to English" (my strongest C, and probably the least offered at schools into English at the moment) into this school finder I get a list of schools where I can study. In your professional opinions, which school out of this list is the best choice? I am open to living anywhere in the world since, as a freelancer, I know I am able to work while studying to maintain at least enough to cover my expenses. I do not want to study in the US because it is prohibitively expensive. Should I probably aim for France since it's one of my C's and it's the one that's most in demand in my combination?

Thanks all!

asked 23 Jun '14, 15:44

theplotchickens1's gravatar image


edited 24 Jun '14, 03:20

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I've just now come across this link specifying the language profiles in demand for the EU. It tells me that as an English A, you need an ACC combination at the very least, with C1 being French or German, and C2 being either Italian, Dutch, etc. and a C3 of Arabic or Russian (?). They also state a retour in French, German, Italian or Spanish would be helpful.

Knowing that information, is it beneficial for me to focus on ABCCC, with English A, Italian B, French C, Spanish C and a German C? My main dilemma is whether to add German or Dutch. Thanks!

(23 Jun '14, 15:47) theplotchick...

My answer would be don't learn another language now. If and when you get to the EU accreditation level they will almost certainly suggest you learn German - so you could keep learning it but...

if I were you I would study interpreting with the ACCC combination you already have, or an ABC combination. Firstly because you should find out whether you are suited to conference interpreting before putting time into learning another language and secondly because you don't want to bite off more than you can chew (like ABCCC, ACCCC or ABCC). Start small and add languages later. So my advice is to choose between ACCC (if you're aiming for the EU) or ABC (if you want to work on the private market in Italy - there'll be little work with Italian B outside Italy).

(I don't know why the EU are asking for Arabic and Russian. They are used very rarely in the EU and though they seem to be flavour of the month I personally wouldn't put my time into Arabic (which is not used as a C language at the UN - the Arabic booth always does a retour). Russian opens up the UN for you, but it's hardly used by those who have it in the EU. )

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answered 23 Jun '14, 16:03

Andy's gravatar image


Thanks for the wealth of information. It really gives me a lot to think about.

For now I'm going to stick with ACCC (English, French, Italian, Spanish) and work on bumping up to a B at a later date. I've got a few years before I even think of applying, so I'll concentrate on bumping up my Dutch to a strong C too.

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answered 25 Jun '14, 12:40

theplotchickens1's gravatar image


Thanks! Learning a new language is really something I enjoy, so I don't consider it to be something of a chore.

If I were to go the ACCC route, which ones should I choose? French, Italian and Spanish (I don't feel my Dutch is up to snuff yet). Isn't that a combination that is really common? And why does the EU specify having an Italian B would be an asset, but you're saying there will be little work with an Italian B? I'm so confused!

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answered 23 Jun '14, 16:20

theplotchickens1's gravatar image


Yes, start with the languages you already know - French, Italian and Spanish. It would be an 'asset' because theoretically you could use it bi-actively on delegation visits (to Italy or with Italian MEPs). However this is a one-way asset IMO. It's a lot of hard work, that may or may not benefit your accreditation procedure, but which is unlikely to get you any extra work or actually be used. (It may earn you an extra point in the Commission's recruitability system but given the extra work involved in learning to interpret into a B I would focus on the basics ACCC or on the B - ABC)

(24 Jun '14, 01:15) Andy

Andy is right, go for a strong ACCC.

Once you're accredited, you can add languages, take additional tests to either add a B or Dutch: If you fail an language addition test after you're already accredited, that doesn't have consequences, you can still work with your original ACCC combination. Whereas is you fail the initial accreditation by trying to pass with a weak Italian B or a weak Dutch C, you won't even get a foot in the door that time.

(24 Jun '14, 05:15) Gaspar ♦♦
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question asked: 23 Jun '14, 15:44

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last updated: 25 Jun '14, 12:40

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