I would like to add a C language because I find my combination lacking A.French B English C Chinese (useless, apparently). I'm thinking the sooner, the better as I still have 3+years before passing any exam entrance to ESIT's CI master (if everything goes smoothly...). I have a little basis of spanish, and it's close to my native language, easier to learn, but I fear it will be neither marketable nor in demand for international organisations... On the other hand learning russian from scratch seems incredibly demanding and will probably take a decade or so...
Any insight from those who happen to have this kind of combination ?
asked 17 Nov '15, 09:50
I am impressed with your advanced planning!
It is true that, unless your Chinese is active, it will be of very little use to you. All private market work, and some international organization work, requires an A<>B combination - most especially with exotic languages. Moreover, in the international organization context, it is hugely difficult for a non-Chinese A to get work.
The UN and other IOs are indeed users of both Russian and Spanish. Russian is much rarer among interpreters, so is sought after. But it will take a long time to learn it to a high standard, and once you are hired as the russisant in the booth, it is either feast or famine. I have worked entire meetings where the Russian speakers spoke the entire time (rare, but still...), and (many more) where they didn't say a word, or at least not in Russian. And then when they do speak, it is to monitor every sound out of your mouth. Granted, you are a French A and they tend to monitor the English, but if at that moment you are the only person on the team with Russian (your colleague in the EN booth having stepped out for a bathroom break), then it is you through the English booth who is being monitored. Russian would also be harder to keep up at a good level.
Spanish will be easier to learn, though you should not fall into the trap of thinking it is easy. You will have to avoid many more traps to keep your French sounding native. And it is a language spoken by very many countires, and slightly differently in each of them. Spanish is also not rare, so you will have much more competition to find work, and you will have to be very good at both interpreting and the professional skills of networking, marketing, etc. However, the FR-EN-ES combination is not rare because there are markets for it. Every NGO out there uses these languages, as well as every IO, and if your EN is a B then you won't have to worry so much, as that is where you will get much of your work from.
To give an example of one market I know well, Washington DC, you would be able to work in A<>B for the US Dept of State, the World Bank, the IMF, and the private market; in (ES) C and B>A you could also work for the IADB, PAHO, and the OAS. Of course you will have a lot of competition. If you had a Russian C, none of the latter organizations would be open to you unless they had a strictly FR<>EN meeting, though if the UN in NY or ICAO in Montreal are hiring from outside those cities, you may get work from them. And you would have no competition, because most of the Russian in the US is interpreted biactively into English by native speakers of Russian. I realize you most probably won't go to the US to work, but the same dynamic holds true in Geneva.
There is a new development in the UN world, where the treaty bodies may now limit themselves to only 3 languages of their choice, instead of holding meetings in all 6 UN languages. This means many of these bodies will stop using Russian, as Russian-speaking countries do not play a large role in the topic of that treaty. Spanish may then end up being more sought after than in the past. Of course, if you were to have both Spanish and Russian, then the UN world would be your oyster!
answered 18 Nov '15, 05:28
FR A, EN B, RU C : profil marché privé (EN B) et ONU (RU C). Le russe est très demandé en ce moment et l'offre est limitée.
FR A, EN B, ES C : profil marché privé uniquement. ES C est trop commun et il faut être incroyablement bon pour avoir droit tout au plus à quelques miettes à l'ONU.
answered 17 Nov '15, 11:33