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Hello there,

I'm an aspiring conference interpreter - that is, I'm about to complete a BA in Spanish and intend to begin an MA in Conference Interpretation next year. I have English as my A language, and Spanish and French as my (prospective) C languages, although I'm working to attain the level necessary to use Spanish as a B. From what I've heard, interpreters with the aforementioned combination aren't especially sought after in Europe. As a result, I'm currently looking to add a slightly "unconventional" language to my repertoire. I'm also learning German, which I understand is quite in demand these days (and understandably so), but I'm also thinking of taking up Romanian or Croatian. In your opinion, would I do well to choose either of these?

asked 16 Jul '14, 06:26

Graveldinger's gravatar image

Graveldinger
40226

edited 19 Jul '14, 14:56

Vincent%20Buck's gravatar image

Vincent Buck ♦♦
3.9k203350

Thank you all for your advice. I've decided to continue studying French, Spanish and Portuguese, while beginning to study Dutch, which I'll likely find easier to master in a relatively short period of time than German, but which will also allow me to learn the latter with slightly less effort sometime in the future. I'd still very much like to learn Romanian and/or Polish, but I think that I'd do best to save them for later.

If any of you have any objections to the course of action outlined above, don't hesitate to let me know.

Ian

(25 Jul '14, 08:27) Graveldinger

Hi Ian, If you are working on a Spanish B, then you are working towards something that will only be useful in Spain and Spanish speaking countries, where you won't need another C language. If you are aiming at working for the EU in Brussels, ES B is not going to be much use. So decide where you see yourself working and focus your efforts. ES B or another C, not both.

I don't entirely agree with Gaspar. Yes German is very useful, but if you want to get yourself noticed, tested and recruited as a beginner the experience of the last 10 years suggests that a rare language (properly learned) can be a real plus. (Gaspar and I are both living proof of the same!) However, once you've learnt RO or HR you should then learn German. But that's a 10 year plan already, so first things first.

As well as asking us for our views here you should also ask directly the heads of the EN booths at the SCIC and Parliament, who would be your main employers in Brussels for their views. (Though you should also be aware that just as here their opinions may differ between institutions and over time. So don't take anything as Gospel.)

The safest bet is to learn a language you like/love.

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answered 17 Jul '14, 04:38

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Andy
6.8k212839

edited 17 Jul '14, 04:44

1

I don't entirely agree with Gaspar. Yes German is very useful, but if you want to get yourself noticed, tested and recruited as a beginner the experience of the last 10 years suggests that a rare language (properly learned) can be a real plus.

There's a distinction to be made between 1) a language combination that gives you priority for an accreditation test, 2) a language combination that gives you regular access to an accreditation test and last but not least, 3) a language combination that makes you actually 'usable' enough to be hired regularly and make a living.

1) The EU interpretation services have an interest to have as many people as possible accredited with rare languages (aka. languages in demand) to meet requests for the oddest language regime. Those will give you priority for an accreditation test. The languages are usually requiredfor 10-20% of all meetings with SCIC interpretation.

2) The EU will nevertheless also call people with a solid standard combination to sit the test. In the case of the the EN booth at SCIC, FR + DE plus any official EU language are a good start.

3) Once accredited, some language combinations will be required more often. While priority languages are needed to form a pool of people just in case there is any demand, they are no guarantee of regular work. The likeliness to be offered contracts with a combination that allows to work also in Commission meetings (and not only EP and Council) seems higher.

It might not be an absolute rule, but for instance a French colleague who has the same profile as I have (age, experience) but for the language combination is more often getting mid and short term contracts with EN-DE-IT than me with EN-DE-HU. IT is requested as an active language in 49% of the meetings, whereas HU is only needed for 10% of them. For IT & HU as passive languages, it's roughly the same (let's say 60% for IT and max. 20% for HU).

(17 Jul '14, 08:29) Gáspár ♦

Within the EU institutions, ES, FR & DE is likely to give you more work than ES, FR & RO or HR.

Many technical meetings only use a language regime with 6 source and target languages (EN-FR-IT-ES-PT-DE).

Eastern European languages would only be used in some Council meetings having a full language regime and at the Parliament.

Having a rare language means less competition, but also less demand... and probably more efforts to learn the language (bigger geographical distances, lesser media resources and possibilities to take language courses).

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answered 16 Jul '14, 06:46

G%C3%A1sp%C3%A1r's gravatar image

Gáspár ♦
6.7k141829

Et si je me concentrais sur l'allemand et une autre langue romane (comme par exemple le portugais, que je parle déjà à un niveau plus ou moins avancé)?

Ian

(17 Jul '14, 02:00) Graveldinger

Si je puis me permettre, je pense que c'est justement ce que Gaspar conseille : l'allemand associé à une autre des six langues les plus souvent utilisées (ES, IT, PT). Mais puisque tu maîtrises déjà l'espagnol, si tu ajoutes l'allemand pour avoir une combinaison FR, ES, DE>EN, cela suffira amplement pour l'instant (ajouter l'allemand en si peu de temps va déjà demander beaucoup d'efforts).

(17 Jul '14, 03:23) Camille Collard
1

Hi I still disagree with Gaspar. But Ian, don't forget that both Gaspar and I are basing our views on personal experience and anecodotal evidence. Gaspar is Commission-based whereas I have worked mostly for the Eur. Parliament.

As I say above... ask the heads of booth as well.

Re. the idea of learning PT in addition to DE (either first, or afterwards). There are plenty of 6 language meetings that are EN DE FR IT ES PL or EN DE FR IT ES EL. The 6th language slot is certainly not monopolised by PT. So if you already have a good head start on PT, and you like it, then why not. If you want to improve your employment prospects in BXLs and you want to learn a romance language then it might as well be Romanian with its rarity value.

My advice remains RO (or HR or PL or CZ) and then DE, (which will probably take you till 2025!)

NB there is an advantage to choosing a slavic language over RO. You would then have a huge headstart on learning another slavic language as your 4th language instead of DE.

(18 Jul '14, 05:12) Andy

Thank you all for your advice. I've decided to continue studying French, Spanish and Portuguese, while beginning to study Dutch, which I'll likely find easier to master in a relatively short period of time than German, but which will also allow me to learn the latter with slightly less effort sometime in the future. I'd still very much like to learn Romanian and/or Polish, but I think that I'd do best to save them for later.

If any of you have any objections to the course of action outlined above, don't hesitate to let me know.

Ian

(25 Jul '14, 21:47) Graveldinger
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question asked: 16 Jul '14, 06:26

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last updated: 25 Jul '14, 21:47

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