1) ANYONE CAN BE AN INTERPRETER
Many believe you don’t need any training at all, you just have to
speak a couple of languages to become an interpreter. This misconception
possibly arises from the fact that when you watch a good interpreter in
action, it all appears so effortless. This may lead the uninitiated to
think that anyone can do it that easily.
This is absolutely FALSE. It’s like saying anyone who can use a
thermometer can be a doctor, or owning a pair of skis will make you a
ski jumper. While the thorough knowledge of languages is absolutely
essential to becoming an interpreter, it is not enough in itself. The
reason why it all looks so easy is because the interpreter has spent
years training and practicing the skills required to do his or her job.
2) INTERPRETERS ARE BORN, NOT MADE
Here, the idea seems to be that some people are born with a “knack”
for interpreting and others don’t. It is true that a certain number of
“in-born” traits will make it easier for one to learn the skills
required to become an interpreter. For instance, it helps to:
- be a good communicator
- have a quick and well-organised mind
- have the ability to concentrate and focus, especially in stressful situations
- have strong nerves
- have intellectual curiosity
- be adaptable to new situations
- be a people person (although not all interpreters are extroverts)
- be a team player
- show personal integrity
3) INTERPRETING CAN’T BE TAUGHT
This one is actually a bit mystifying for me, since most people seem
to agree that pretty much every other profession requires training. You
want to build a skyscraper? Go and study architecture. You want to run a
multinational? Sign up for an MBA. You want to become an interpreter?
Apply to a postgraduate interpreting course.
The idea here behind the myth that interpreting can’t be taught would
appear to be that since the whole interpreting process all happens so
quickly inside one’s head, there is no way to actually figure out what’s
going on in there and then teach the techniques required. This is
particularly the case for simultaneous translation, where observers see
the interpreter listening, mentally analysing and translating the
message, and speaking all at the same time.
I’m pleased to say that this belief is also FALSE:
4) ALL INTERPRETING COURSES ARE CREATED EQUAL
This is simply not true. Just as I’m sure you would do a lot of
research before applying to an executive MBA, I highly recommend
prospective students research various interpreting schools before making
their choice. They shouldn’t necessarily just pick the course closest
to home, or the one at the university their friends plan to attend.
What to look out for? According to the AIIC (the International
Association of Conference Interpreters), which has drafted a list of
best practice for conference interpreting training programmes, a course
should be at the postgraduate level, be at least one year long, be
taught by conference interpreters, include an aptitude test, and teach
both consecutive and simultaneous interpreting techniques.
The AIIC’s recommendations, as well as a number of other tips for
prospective students of interpreting, can be found on the website of
AIB, along with a lot of other useful information about the profession.
AIB offers objective, useful information and debunks a lot of myths,
including the four I have talked about today.”
You can also watch the video with the interview here. Source: Interpreter’s Diaries blog