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Hello everybody,

I'll be starting university pretty soon, and I'll be studying modern languages. But I don't know whether to go with the combination of French and Spanish or French and German. Considering that at the moment, my languages are English - B (English is my main language and I'm perfectly fluent in it, but it's the lack of a native accent that's holding me back) and Polish - B (I have a native accent, but then, I lack the vocabulary as the majority of my education has been conducted in English). Which combination would be the better choice in my case? I have also started to learn Russian in my spare time.

Answers are welcome in English, French or Polish.

asked 03 Feb '15, 09:50

martinosek's gravatar image


edited 04 Feb '15, 03:39

Nacho's gravatar image

Nacho ♦

Hi martinosek,

first things first: You need an A language that is on par. More about that here for starters.

Right now, EN A, PL C, FR C, DE C would be a good thing for the EU.

PL A, EN B, FR C, DE C as well.

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answered 03 Feb '15, 16:08

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

Gáspár ♦

Gaspar is right - you need an A language.

If EN hasn't become one despite years in the UK education system then it probably never will. (Is it really only your accent that's the problem? Most likely you also have some lexical and syntactical interference from PL)

So you should try to get some study time in Poland (a year or two) and get a PL A before you come back to a CI course.

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answered 04 Feb '15, 04:33

Andy's gravatar image


There isn't any lexical or syntactical interference from PL. My accent is the only problem. I feel like English is my A language and I never have any problems expressing myself, but when I speak, people can clearly tell that I'm not English and sometimes I have to repeat myself two or three times. That's why, I don't classify it as an A. I'm thinking of taking some elocution/accent reduction lessons, maybe that would solve the problem? If I did take the accent reduction lessons and they proved to work, would it then still be advisable to go to Poland and get my PL up to an A, to maybe have two A languages or would be PL B be enough?

(04 Feb '15, 09:01) martinosek

Double A is a great but very rare combination to have, and would allow you to work in two different booths. I suppose you can do that with your B language if you have 'a full second booth' though - can others verify this?

Are you sure your English isn't also a B for other reasons? You write 'and they would prove to be' when the correct English is 'they proved to work/they worked'.

In the meantime, I would simply say enjoy your studies and the language-learning process rather than stressing too much about language combinations.

(04 Feb '15, 09:22) Eric

A bit of an accent shouldn't really be an issue, but having to repeat yourself to be understood obviously is! If you think it's only the accent and you can work on the accent then go for the EN A. In which case you don't need a PL A. In fact you don't really need a PL B (just a C) as it won't be much use to you professionally in the EU - for it to be worthwhile you'd have to move to Poland to work on the PL-EN private market.

(04 Feb '15, 09:26) Andy

Not sure I agree with Andy - there is definitely Polish<>English work in Brussels on the private market from what I've heard from Polish friends/colleagues. I'm not saying there's loads of it but there is some. There might not be any in 5 years time when you graduate though, martinosek!

(04 Feb '15, 09:41) Eric

Also the Polish booth at the EU works with retour!

(04 Feb '15, 09:45) Eric

The Polish booth is not recruiting that much, as it's in the 3rd (i.e. last) priority group. They have accredited many young people, some of them already moved back to PL due to a lack of work.

To keep it simple, starting in the profession by getting in via the EN booth is more simple, provided one has EN A. In that case, Andy is right when he's saying that PL C is enough and PL B close to useless (or at least it wouldn't be likely to offer a good return on investment in terms of cost/benefit).

From an organizational point of view, it makes more sense to have several Cs including less common languages in a Western European booth and have one strong retour into a common language plus a couple of common Cs when one is working in an Eastern European booth.

Same for the private market. There it's probably PL A's doing an EN retour (and having a few Cs) than the opposite. So if EN is the A, PL B again won't be that useful, unless you have a second full booth (like double As, not that common).

(04 Feb '15, 11:19) Gáspár ♦

Eric, 1) the PL booth works with EN retour, but the EN booth doesn't work with PL retour. 2) there are far more PL interpreters chasing much less work in BXLs than in WSW. An interpreter with PL B EN A would, IMO, have a tough time making a living in BXLs.

(04 Feb '15, 11:37) Andy

Andy 1) I never said that the EN booth uses a PL retour, so I assume you were saying that for Martinosek's beneft. 2) The original poster asked about whether to study DE/FR or DE/SP, so one would assume he wouldn't be an interpreter with PL B EN A, he would/could have an A-B-CC combo. 3)To my mind having a A-B-CC in Brussels is better than A-CCC, even if the B is Polish ,as it opens up the private market 4) The discussion about whether he'd be best working in the PL or EN booth is ultimately moot as we have no idea what this poster's A language(s) is, and neither it seems does he.

(05 Feb '15, 07:43) Eric

A meeting with more than two languages and offering both passive and active PL will require the PL booth to do a retour into EN or FR. But that same booth has to be able to take DE, EN, FR, IT,... from the floor as use of systematic relay is to be avoided.

That only works provided one is double booth, not merely PL B, which is unlikely to be the case if one is lacking vocabulary as the OP describes. Add Andy's remarks to that: the market in Brussels in tiny and doesn't strike me as being in demand for fresh blood.

IMHO there's no point to a PL B if based in BXLs. It only means much more efforts and no foreseeable return on investment. The time spent on bringing PL to B level would be better used learning another C.

(08 Feb '15, 08:50) Gáspár ♦
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question asked: 03 Feb '15, 09:50

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