Apologies in advance if you've come across this query many times before, but I just wanted to hear your thoughts regarding my personal situation.
I am a final year student of Spanish & Portuguese at the University of Manchester and would love to become a conference interpreter. I am 25, and started my undergraduate degree a few years after finishing school, although I am due to graduate in May 2016.
I've always had a strong interest in languages, but I come from a family of doctors, and so, chose to study Dentistry at university for a year, before realising that I had no interest in it, and wished to pursue languages instead. Deciding to play it safe second time around, I applied for single honours Spanish at Manchester, but have picked up Portuguese and Catalan along the way.
During my year abroad (Sept 2014-Aug 2015), I undertook placements in separate translation firms in Barcelona, and learned a great deal about CAT tools, project management, etc. However, although I enjoyed learning about translation of various document types, I realised that what I desired most was to use my spoken language to achieve similar outcomes for clients.
Having taken the scenic route to this stage, I am now wholly convinced that I wish to dedicate my time and effort to interpreting as a career. I've acquired a good range of soft skills through my different jobs, and have taught English in Barcelona and Spanish in Liverpool, where I live.
My question is related to how I push on from here. I'd love to apply for ESIT or ETI in perhaps two years, whilst finding any work I can in a French-speaking country/region until I do so. I've been reading this website for a while now, in addition to others, and have ascertained that I need to pick up French as a C language. I studied it until A-level, and although I am rusty, I practised with a number of French-speaking colleagues in Barcelona during the last year - I'm determined to improve it to professional level. With that, I'll have English (A), Spanish (C), Portuguese (C), French (C), and I'm aware that that combination is very common for English As, but I'm determined to make the most of what I have. European language and culture fascinates me, and I would love to work in Germany/Netherlands/Italy/the Nordics in the future, but obviously I doubt I can get these into my combination as a short-term aim.
Basically, what advice do you have for me to work towards getting into an EMCI school? I am happy to do any volunteering/pro-bono/liaison/etc in order to get experience, and was planning on freelance translation to pay the bills using the contacts I have if I can't find a job in France. I'm completely flexible and willing to learn, but the Interpreting programme at Manchester (MA) doesn't prepare you as the European ones would, and there's hardly anyone I know who has experience in this field. I realise that I am behind, but am eager to make up for lost time. I would be grateful for any advice at all, and can send my CV/LinkedIn profile to anyone who has any time to take a look at it.
Apologies again for this long-winded essay, but thank you in advance for any help that you can offer.
asked 15 Mar '16, 12:26
Do whatever pays the bills and what you are qualified for, while allowing you to live in whichever country you need to spend time to improve your languages.
I would strongly discourage you from doing things you're not qualified for (first rule in our business, only do things you can do well), just like you wouldn't think of volunteering to be an ambulance driver for the Red Cross before having attended driving school.
answered 15 Mar '16, 12:37
I think you might have three distinct options.
You could start studying conference interpreting immediately in Spain with an AB combination (that is interpreting into and out of Spanish). If that combination is possible anywhere it will most likely be in Spain (though I don't know what conditions schools have)! This would mean working later where the ES-EN market is - Spain, the US and South America. It's apparently a very competitive market (lots of people, rates getting pushed down).
Alternatively, you could spend a year in France and several years learning German and then apply to study CI with a view to working for the EU. I say do both languages because EN- ES PT FR may not get you very much work in Brussels and most likely you would be encouraged to add German or a rare language (PL, EL, SV etc) as soon as you arrive.
Or you spend a year in France and several years learning Russian and then apply to study CI with a view to working for the UN. Again you'll probably need both FR and RU (on top of your ES) to get work at the UN but check with someone knows more about the UN.
As Gaspar says, interpreting (without training, so badly) is not good for you, or the reputation of the profession. You'll get bad habits that are hard to get rid of.
answered 15 Mar '16, 12:51
...wishing you all the very best, might I venture to underscore that PT is a global language, spoken across the world by gloriously different cultures, whose phonetics inter alia differ dramatically from SP (PT has 17 vowel sounds, SP 5...) ie IMHO most definitely not a language one "picks along the way" from SP and alongside Catalan. To boot, lusophone stays are noticeably absent from your list of foreign experiences.
My aim in writing is of course not to chastise you (any PT is very much a bonus to anybody - needless to say, it's my mother-tongue!) but merely to sound a note of caution, one that will hopefully alert and entice you to work at acquiring those many wondrous, gleaming pearls awaiting you on lusophone shores :-). Good luck!
I'll just add my thoughts. Practically everyone new entering on to the interpreting market has a Master's degree in interpreting. Have you thought about where you would like to study?
There are very good interpreting schools in Paris (ESIT, ISIT), but you have to have at least French C to be accepted there. The courses last two years (if they don't oblige you to re-take a year) and are notorously demanding. La Laguna in Spain might also be an option for you. Or one of the British universities. You have to look at the costs of each of these Masters degrees; they're all priced differently.
Maybe I misunderstood, but I don't necessarily agree with Andy when he says that:
Alternatively, you could spend a year in France and several years learning German and then apply to study CI with a view to working for the EU. I say do both languages because EN- ES PT FR may not get you very much work in Brussels.
If you do have three Cs that are strong, you're able to interpret, you pass the EU test, and you live in Brussels then you should get work with the EU. Sure, later on you will need to add another language(s), but at the beginning of your career 3 Cs is fine. I'm not accredited to the EU, but I live in Brussels and know some English As with FR ES PT and they seem to be doing all right, for now at least. Portuguese is not an incredibly rare language, but it is an asset in the English booth. So there's no point biting off more than you can chew by starting to learn German/Polish etc. now.
I think you should also take a look at what Gaspar wrote in response to this question: http://interpreting.info/questions/9124/worried-interpreting-students
All the best! Sam
Les universités d'outre Manche sont proportionnellement sous représentées parmi les freelance qui ont été accrédités ces dernières années à Bruxelles. Sans s'aventurer à poser le diagnostic sur les raisons sous jaçentes, on peut simplement retenir que s'y faire former est un pari risqué.
Interesting and not at all surprising to hear that. Indeed, I didn't recommend going to a British university; I simply included it as one of the options.
Ca fait beaucoup de si, sans compter que ce qui vaut actuellement ne sera plus nécessairement la norme demain. Les tests de 2017 déjà prévoient beaucoup moins de candidats invités au test. Il suffirait potentiellement de quelques concurrents germanisants pour qu'un profil ne présentant que des langues C latines ne soit pas invité au test.
I think there are a lots of 'ifs' in interpreting, whatever situation you're in, and whatever your language combination is! But seeing as the English booth currently still tests people with just 2 Cs, I find it hard to believe that in the near future people with three C languages won't be invited just because they didn't have a Germanic or Slav language in their combination. But we'll see.