Interpreters convert spoken statements from one language to another. Interpreting involves listening to, understanding and memorising content, then reproducing statements, questions and speeches in a different language. This is usually from one language into a target language, but may be on a two-way basis.
Interpreters facilitate effective communication at conferences and formal meetings; exhibitions, product launches, police interviews, court proceedings, in medical and community situations and by telephone.
There are several types of interpreting: simultaneous interpretation, immediately converting what is being said while the speaker is still speaking; consecutive interpretation, where the speaker will pause after each sentence and wait whilst the interpreter translates; and liaison interpretation which is two-way interpreting, where the interpreter translates every few sentences while the speaker pauses, this is common in legal and health situations. There is also sign language interpreting, converting spoken words into signs and vice versa.
Interpreters reflect language as honestly as possible which includes assimilating speakers’ words quickly, including colloquialisms, jargon and acronyms; and new and specialist vocabulary is constantly developing. They conduct research in advance of meetings and presentations, and organise workload to meet customer requirements.
It is important that you have expertise in at least two languages and the ability to work both independently and as part of a team, you also need to be a confident public speaker and be motivated to learn new vocabulary and embark on post graduate study. It is likely that part of your career will be freelance so you need to be able to run your own business and be accomplished at networking. Attention to detail is essential as well as maintaining an interest in current affairs and general knowledge.
- As speculative applications are the norm in this profession, the Aquarius Directory of Translators and Interpreters could be a useful starting point, and if you are interested in public sector interpreting National Register of Public Service Interpreters (NRPSI) may prove useful.
- The following organisations formally recruit interpreters European Commission, Home Office, Ministry of Defence (MoD), UK Border Agency (UKBA) and European Central Bank.
- For specialist legal knowledge you could try Court of Justice of the European Communities.
- The professional organisations include Chartered Institute of Linguists, Institute of Translation and Interpreting, Directorate General for Interpretation and Association Internationale des Interprètes de Conférence. These may provide other links and contacts.
- For more general information Languages Work is the national information resource on careers with languages and for a comprehensive list of postgraduate courses, visit the Prospects website.
- Trying to get some freelance experience you may wish to contact your local police force and council for possible openings.
- Register for BSL courses and once you have reached an appropriate level contact the disability office to gain relevant experience.
- Take advantage of any European commission open days (see website for details) and presentations on campus to find out more.
- You will need to do a postgraduate qualification so make sure you investigate which one is right for you and that you meet the necessary criteria in plenty of time before the deadlines for these courses.