An interpreter is an individual that translates speech orally. This linguistic discipline takes immense skill, training, aptitude and extensive language knowledge in more than one language. Do you think you have the focus and skill required to become a professional interpreter? The following article explains how one can turn their bilingual ability into a linguistic career.
Your mother and father were born in Italy and you spent your summers in a vineyard where you helped pick grapes with your cousins. Little did you know that all those summers spent playing, working and basking in the warm Italian sun would set you up to travel down the road to your career path. Learning Italian was easy and your cultural awareness of the Italian language is up to par as well given the amount of time you’ve spent in Italy. You even majored in and received a bachelor’s degree in Italian. Now that you’re ready to take your skill and turn it into a profession there are some requirements, qualifications and experience needed to become a professional interpreter. Professional level interpreters have a multitude of skills that an average bilingual person does not possess or just has not development yet. Being bilingual is just the beginning of what it takes to become a professional interpreter.
Types of Interpreting
There are two types of interpreting, consecutive interpretation and simultaneous interpretation. Consecutive interpretation is when the interpreter speaks after the source-language speaker completes one or two sentences. Overall the speech is divided into segments and the interpreter communicates portions of what is being said through active listening skills, memory recall and note taking. Simultaneous interpretation is when an interpreter is trained to listen to a speaker in one language, comprehend the message and simultaneously interpret it into the target language. This takes extensive experience and practice to be able to interpret the message to be both linguistically and culturally correct. Here is a TED Ed video that explains some of the techniques that interpreters have to learn to become a professional interpreter as well as some of the challenges that interpreters face on the job. How interpreters juggle two languages at once
What Makes a Great Interpreter?
An interpreter is an individual that is highly skilled at multitasking. Being able to listen carefully, digest and comprehend the information provided in the source language, memorize it, decide how to translate the information accurately in the target language and then articulate it is very impressive. As opposed to a translator who translates written documents, an interpreter has to be able to interpret on the spot with no dictionaries or reference tools to aid them. Just being bilingual or multilingual is not
enough to become a professional interpreter. As an interpreter your ability to fully comprehend a language should be at the same level as an educated person that is native to that language, allowing you to express yourself equally on any given subject. In order to do that you have to have extensive vocabulary in both languages you speak. Interpreters have to absorb a vast amount of knowledge in many different fields in a short amount of time in order to be familiar with each industry’s key terms and lingo in both the source and target languages in order to accurately interpret. How can one fully understand a thought and be able to interpret it without a full understanding of the subject matter?
An interpreter has to also possess exceptional public speaking skills. Often times you will find yourself interpreting in front of a large audience or in a high pressure environment and you want to always appear calm and well versed, not only on your skill of interpretation, but also on the topic at hand. You need to have confidence on stage because you are basically performing in front of an audience at times. Although you are not the lead role in the performance the show can not go on without you. You are giving the lead role a voice to be heard, and it is your job to ensure that that voice is heard accurately.
You have to remember to always stay neutral and unbiased. You never want to interject your opinion or project your emotions onto others, so the ability to keep yourself in check is a responsibility not to be taken lightly. People speak very differently depending on a situation. Let’s say you are hired as a court interpreter, and you are interpreting for a 23 year old Italian man, who is very angry and emotional over the robbery and vandalism of his father’s bakery. As the interpreter you have to be able to not only interpret the words being spoken, but the feeling and emotion behind what the speaker is conveying. You are his voice! You have to be an excellent communicator while remaining invisible yet trusted.
Another facet to think about is that as an interpreter you may encounter classified or confidential information. This can happen while working as a medical interpreter or as a court interpreter. Being ethical is a trait that one must have to work as a professional interpreter. There will be many on the job scenarios where you have to ensure that you will not only keep information private but also accurately convey the message without any additions or omissions that could possibly mislead the intended perception of the original message.
Educational Requirements and Experience Needed for Becoming an Interpreter
Although a degree is not always mandatory for being hired as a professional interpreter, most employers prefer an applicant that has a bachelor’s degree with some sort of formal coursework in interpreting. The fields of study include interpreting, language studies or a related field. Experience working in the field is required by most employers. Employers look for applicants that have strong verbal communication skills, fluency in at least two languages, impeccable listening skills and complete cultural understanding and sensitivity. Volunteering is a great way to receive some necessary interpreting experience while in college. Many places including hospitals, small companies and nonprofit organizations need assistance when it comes to interpreting, but can’t always afford it. This is a unique opportunity to really hone your skills and it is an excellent experience to have on your résumé when you are applying for jobs after college. Take advantage of study abroad programs while in college these are a wonderful learning experience for aspiring interpreters to really engage themselves in the language and culture. Learning from native speakers will put you on the fast track to your objective. There are some colleges, universities as well as employers that offer formal interpreting training. This could mean extensive fieldwork hours and internships in specified fields of interest such as medical interpreting or court interpreting. Education as an interpreter never stops. You want to always be at the forefront of your skill, learning daily and improving your knowledge and awareness linguistically and culturally throughout your career. Continuing your education as an interpreter can do nothing but advance you in your pursuits to accurately bridge the gap between cultures thorough accurate communication.
Niki’s Int’l Ltd. is a WBENC-Certified Women Business Enterprise with 20 years of language service experience. A global network of highly skilled interpreters are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for on-site, telephonic and video remote interpretation services. Niki’s Int’l Ltd. offers many types of translation and interpretation services. Our linguists are available in over 350 languages and dialects, and our network includes certified medical interpreters, court interpreters and translators. Our work is guaranteed with a $1 Million Errors & Omissions policy, so that you can be confident that your project will be completed with the highest level of quality and professionalism within the field. For more information contact us at 1-877-567-8449 or visit our website at www.nilservices.com .