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Football commentators occasionally comment that World Cup teams spend only a few days out of the year playing at tournaments, and the rest of their time is devoted to practicing. Likewise, surveys of conference interpreters show that they only spend a part of the year at conferences, with numbers of 80, 90, or 100 conference days per year being representative. If interpreters are working this amount of conference days per year, how much of their time will be devoted to paid preparation time, and how much time will be spent on unpaid days? Aside from weekends and time going on holiday, how do these successful conference interpreters spend their unpaid days?

asked 01 Jun '15, 10:56

Adrian%20Lee%20Dunbar's gravatar image

Adrian Lee D...

edited 16 Jul '15, 15:50

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Hi There are very few clients that pay preparation time. (The ECJ in Luxembourg is one). So whatever preparation you do will most likely be on a day you aren't being paid. You tend to prepare more for stuff you know less well, so beginners have to do a lot of preparation for everything. That might comfortably be more than one day per day of interpreting work. Interpreters who've worked for a given client for years might just need to catch up on the latest news in that sector.

Interpreters will also do things in several languages that normal people do in one - read books, watch TV, listen to the radio etc etc. This might not be considered unpaid work, but its certainly necessary to keep up with your languages.

And then there's the admin. If you're freelance you'll have to do a certain amount of paperwork, email clients, sending and chasing up invoices etc etc.

The days soon get filled up!

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answered 09 Jun '15, 09:15

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Take a look at the article link text Budgeting Time and Costs for Interpreters by Julia Böhm - she explains very well why a lot of our unpaid time isn't really downtime. Besides that, as Andy says, my hobbies are all done in 3 languages, so I'm not sure we really have much downtime at all!

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answered 09 Jun '15, 11:10

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question asked: 01 Jun '15, 10:56

question was seen: 4,525 times

last updated: 09 Jun '15, 11:10 is a community-driven website open to anyone with questions and/or answers about interpreting, i.e. spoken language translation

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