Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The world of interpreting: the ins and outs

Although translating and interpreting are often used interchangeably they are two entirely different professions, with the latter often being misunderstood or overlooked. While translators work with the written word, interpreters work with speech, thus requiring different skills and different types of training.
I always thought that simultaneous interpreting was just listening and speaking at the same time, impressive in itself no doubt, but through my experience as an administrative trainee in DG Interpretationat the European Commission, I have learnt that it is actually so much more than that. Interpreters have to listen, understand, analyse, summarise, capture nuances, translate and express someone else’s words…Simultaneously! Interpreting is nothing less than an intense verbal marathon.
Working as an interpreter for the European institutions is certainly not your average 9 to 5 job. To say the job is varied is an understatement, there is no such thing as a typical week. I have rubbed shoulders with colleagues who work in large conferences one day and then interpret at private lunches with President Barroso the next, before travelling to Budapest for a 3 day conference! It goes without saying that interpreters use their languages every day but they also have plenty of opportunities to learn new ones and are encouraged to do so. Many of you are probably still away or have just come back from your year abroad; as an interpreter you would be able to live overseas again and travel with your work.
However, this exciting and challenging profession is under threat for two main reasons; a) it is perceived as a difficult career path to follow, so many people disregard it as an option and b) international organisations, such as the EU institutions, are currently facing a severe shortage of interpreters in several languages, with English chief among them.
In order to become a conference interpreter within the EU institutions, you firstly need to have a Masters degree in Conference Interpreting before you can apply for their freelance accreditation tests or open competitions. In this current economic climate and with the impending rise of tuition fees in the UK, this option may seem arduous and expensive, but help is at hand. Many universities running Conference Interpreting courses have study bursaries available for students, but you will need to contact the universities directly to find out more. In addition, DG Interpretation at the European Commission also offers some bursaries to interpreting students each year. Additionally, you don’t necessarily have to study interpreting in the UK of course. There are many universities across Europe that offer top quality courses at a much lower cost, for example the ESIT in Paris offers the European Masters in Conference Interpreting for just 600€ a year.
Financial considerations aside, DG Interpretation also provides training support to its partner universities through study visits, teaching assistance and training materials, which helps students better prepare themselves for the assessments they need to take in order to become an interpreter for the EU institutions.  Read more. Source: http://www.proz.com