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Hi everyone,

I feel like I am at the "crossroads" as an interpreter. I already hold a Masters degree in CI from Heidelberg University. I have Geraman A, Russian B, English C. Having worked for three years on the free market I feel the strong tendency of the market towards English as an active language. Thus, I have decided to do another M.A. at London Metropolitan University to add English as my B. I already got granted a place. Since I would like to be able to work for the organizations and also have a better position on the free market, I thought this is the right thing to do.

Do you think it will pay off to pay for another, pretty pricy education for another Masters degree? Or is there a possibility to take an exam and add a B-language without going through the whole program again? Would that be considered enough by the institutions or do theay need a uni diploma?

Thanks a lot in advance.

asked 19 Jul '15, 09:40

Vera's gravatar image


edited 01 Aug '15, 08:51

Gaspar's gravatar image

Gaspar ♦♦

Hi Vera,

The tuition fees and a year off living in London don't come cheap.

Before considering, you should find out who the DE A / EN B or EN A / DE B interpreters are who would train you: Are they experienced conference interpreters who are well established on the market? On which market? Is their reputation and the school's reputation good enough to allow you to see an increase in your engagements in the region you'll be working in? What is the schools track record, how many of the 50 students London Met has per year actually do become conference interpreters?

Also, bear in mind that upgrading a C to a B takes more than a year. Does London Met pretend they can do it in only a few months? I recently came across a CV of a student who entered London Met with a C1 level (CEFR classification) in English... and now pretends to have a retour into English, while her command of the language is below my level... and I have English as a C only. If she got awarded a diploma with EN as a B, that should trigger alarm bells as to the quality of training and would also tell a lot about the probable reputation of the training institution.

There are a few threads on this website about adding a B language. You might find some valuable advice to improve your English, without attending a course meant to teach you the conference interpreting techniques (and not that much languages per se). Training in the booth should probably be one of the last steps in adding a B.

A good read would also be Chris Guichot's article on B languages:

permanent link

answered 19 Jul '15, 10:36

Gaspar's gravatar image

Gaspar ♦♦

edited 01 Aug '15, 08:50

Hello Vera, I agree that you don't really need a full academic year to learn techniques you already know. To make a B (as Chris Guichot de Fortis says in the article mentioned by Gaspar), you do have to repeat many of the exercises you learned from German into Russian, in your new combination. You already have a very good understanding of English if you have a degree from an interpreting school and have been working on the market, which means you could replicate much of your interpreting school practice on your own or in a local practice group. Much of what you need now is to just do it in a non-work setting, and get feedback on how you are doing and what you need to work on. In addition, you could spend some time in the UK working in an office or a school, teaching German, serving drinks, and work on your active English yourself, while working with a local interpreting practice group.

On the other hand, if you have the money and time to spend, and you aren't someone who has the discipline to do it yourself, then it might be worthwhile going to an interpreting school. As you already have a degree, the institution you go to for your active English isn't quite as important, since everyone will know who taught you your interpreting skills; but it would still behoove you to do the due diligence and ask the questions that Gaspar has indicated, to make sure that you get good educational support.

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answered 19 Jul '15, 11:03

JuliaP's gravatar image


Do you think it will pay off to pay for another, pretty pricy education for another Masters degree? Or is there a possibility to take an exam and add a B-language without going through the whole program again? Would that be considered enough by the institutions or do theay need a uni diploma?

  • On the private market, anyone can pretend to be an interpreter and to master a zillion languages. There is no formal test, no diploma, no nothing that will be required for you to try to sell your services. But the market itself, i.e. your colleagues and customers won't hire you twice if it turns out the first time that the competences you pretended to have aren't on par. Hence the importance of offering an excellent level of service, as it takes years to build one's professional reputation but only seconds to destroy it.

  • As a German A, you won't have the chance to be UN accredited, and even the EU is unlikely to consider you with only DE<>EN and RU C (right now, 3 EU official languages are required as C languages for beginners). Possible employers with your to-be combination would be the German Ministry of foreign affairs and the patent office in Munich, probably a few more. Since these structures are smaller than the EU and UN, the testing requirements might be less formal (but not less demanding). Joining a professional association (AIIC, VKD/BDÜ,...) might also show them that you are a committed professional who adheres to certain values and standards and in some instances makes your hiring easier.

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answered 20 Jul '15, 03:20

Gaspar's gravatar image

Gaspar ♦♦

edited 20 Jul '15, 03:21

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question asked: 19 Jul '15, 09:40

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