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I hear that in the old days quite a few conference interpreters learned on the job. That's because training schemes were few and far between back then, or did not include simultaneous.

Is it still the case today? Anyone out there who does simultaneous conference interpreting without having been trained for it?

asked 16 Oct '11, 20:12

silvia-c's gravatar image


edited 16 Oct '11, 23:40

Vincent%20Buck's gravatar image

Vincent Buck
3.9k203350's one of those "unmentionables" who did not get any professional training whatsoever before first inflicting himself on inocent delegates, 34 years ago and counting :-). I've been trying to make ammends ever since, reading, watching/listening, ie learning as much as I can :-). I'm proud to say (not because I did pass but because it is my profession and I do see such openness as a lettre de noblesse) that despite my total lack of formal training I was allowed to sit an open competition for staff interpreters, because in 1985 the organisation which took me on expressly accepted "experience equivalent to training". This being said, it's only natural that as a profession establishes itself and its pedagogical tenets get progressively codified entrants come in by way of formal training, with all the benefits accruing therefrom...of which I was sorely envious as I fumbled along my way :-).

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answered 15 Nov '11, 17:20

msr's gravatar image


edited 17 Nov '11, 16:16


+1 for giving me the idea to create a new unmentionable badge on! ;-)

(15 Nov '11, 17:33) Vincent Buck

Some experienced interpreters who never received formal training and learned by doing are still working today. They came to our profession when few training schools existed, as you rightly point out.

With excellent training opportunities today, it is inexcusable to inflict your learning curve on a client unless you really can't find a school that can teach your language combination. How do you know you're any good at it without any training? You need feedback from professionals who can compare your performance to what is expected in the booth and suggest ways to improve.

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answered 25 Oct '11, 00:53

LingoJango's gravatar image


Hi! There are a few of these on the market still, and many of them belong to the old guard. They are very good, but they had to learn at the school of hard knocks. Nowadays, younger interpreters tend to come to the profession from one kind of training program or another. I think that for the new generation of interpreters it is almost impossible to break into the market without some kind of formal training.

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answered 29 Jan '15, 11:50

Anyuli%20In%C3%A1cio%20Da%20Silva's gravatar image

Anyuli Ináci...

There are many interpreters in many countries who have never attended any interpreter training programs, let alone spent time or money on a degree. In the US alone, in my own language combination (EN<>RU), I could count the numbers of interpreters with any training or degrees on the fingers of one hand, while everyone else came to interpreting through many and varied approaches.

Many of my colleagues, whose families had pretty much all immigrated from the Soviet Union, had advanced degrees in science, philology, medicine, engineering or law, and were very well educated. Once they realized what interpreting is and how to interpret, they did (and still do) very well. The only field where they would be noticeably less confident would be in conference-level consecutive interpretation. Apart from the longer renditions and the physical placement/protocol issues, though, they were just as good as the trained interpreters I worked with.

Granted, among colleagues that I work with now that I have moved to Europe, these "unmentionables" (thanks MSR!) are few and far between...

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answered 28 Jan '15, 12:05

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question asked: 16 Oct '11, 20:12

question was seen: 4,838 times

last updated: 29 Jan '15, 11:50 is a community-driven website open to anyone with questions and/or answers about interpreting, i.e. spoken language translation

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