September 10, 2020
Is interpreter training necessary? Language industry nowadays witnesses steady growth. It happens due to international relations both in politics and business, increasing population diversity in the US, and globalization. As a result, requires more and more professionals to help connect people from different linguistic environments.
Probably the most important role here is given to interpreters, professionals who assist people in oral communication during meetings. Their job is often challenging and it requires excellent skills and profound knowledge in many domains, which makes their education extremely important.
There is a common misconception that interpreters and translators are alike with the only difference that the first deal with oral communication and the latter with texts. Indeed, at the very basic understanding, it is true but on the more complex level, the specific nature of their job, working environment, the required knowledge, and the skillset are drastically different. Excellent knowledge of two or more languages is not enough to make a good translator, but when working, the latter may have some time to do additional research, while in the case of oral communication a professional has to make decisions on the spot.
While written words, unless in handwriting, might be easily recognized, understanding and decoding speech may be rather challenging. In order to provide an accurate interpretation of speaker’s words, you should get used to individual speech patterns, different accents, and tempo, which makes their job rather difficult.
A complicating factor in interpreters’ work is that they are unable to know what to deal with in advance – it is impossible to project even with relative certainty what the conversation will be about. It leads to another challenge in professionals job, which is the specific terminology that they are required to be familiar with. So that they either need to work in a narrow field or their interpreter training needs to be unimaginably comprehensive. Therefore, people of this profession do not only need to have mastery of their chosen language pair, but also excellent audition, oral skills together with field knowledge and confidence while working in an unfamiliar environment.
But there’s a lot more. Since they are working with people they also need to be knowledgeable about the cultural differences. Although words sound straightforward, in different socio-cultural contexts they have a drastically different meaning. So the responsibility of an interpreter is to articulate speaker’s message appropriately and, at the same time, accurately. They also often have to act as a mediator between speakers, especially when working in the business and political context. They often have to filter the words of the interlocutors as carelessly interpreted phrase can lead to breaking of a deal or a political scandal.
According to the technique, the two main types of interpreting are commonly recognized: consecutive and simultaneous interpreting. In consecutive interpreting, professionals listen to the complete speaker’s sentence and then convert it into another language. The challenge here is to remember everything that the speaker has said from the first to the last word while translating and pronouncing it aloud. The second type, which is simultaneous interpreting is even more hard as you need to interpret the speaker’s words at the moment of speech. The challenges here are vast, as language expert needs to focus on only speaker’s voice and be able to predict what is going to be said next to choose the correct grammatical structure when interpreting what is being said into another language. Both of them are studied in same interpreter training program or choose to master only one of them in a separate course.
When classifying interpreting types according to the situation and domain, the main of them are:
However, there exist many more types in this category.
While most of schools focus on teaching general interpreting skills, it is extremely important for an aspiring interpreter to choose 1 or 2 specific areas of work in industry to pursue in the future. And the hardest part here is to make the right choice. It is not only matter of additional training one would need to take but also one needs to think of further certification and workplace availability in the future.
Here are a few strategies to help decide on the future niche within the interpreting field:
The best job is the one that brings joy. If one is dreaded by the law, it is logical to exclude court interpreting from the list right away. For those who as children dreamed to become a doctor but life took an unexpected twist, seeking medical interpreter training might be a good option.
A good place to start with can be the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Compare salaries, available workplaces, projected field growth, or other parameters important for future employment. Read articles on the topic and get some overview of the industry. It will help to get a general idea about what is going on in the market and what fields will be in demand by the time you finish your training.
Some types of interpretation can be much harder than others. The competitiveness within different domains on interpreting may drastically differ too. If you are ready for challenge, go ahead to apply for a conference interpreter or get certified to work in the UN. Prefer a calmer environment? Choose telephone interpreting.
Almost everyone after finishing their training gets lost when looking for a job. So, the best option is to start searching while still studying. For many jobs in the industry such as court or medical interpreting, it may be required to get certified so you also should take it into consideration. As for business sector, certification might not be needed, but more focus will be required for interpersonal skills.
Modes of employment can also vary. You might work on contractual full-time basis, or work as a freelancer. Many conference interpreters work for some companies that sometimes are hired for conferences. So, they manage to get a more stable workload since conferences do not take place very often.
Nowadays there are vast opportunities to get interpreting education. Previously it was considered that this profession can only be taught in class but now you should find hundreds of programs available online – at a reasonable price. Here are some of the best courses by field:
This university offers several programs for different interpretation fields. But what is a particular advantage of their medical course is that it is a preparation course for the NBCMI Medical Interpreter Certificate Exam. But you should take into consideration that the duration of the course may take over two years.
Cornerstone College is a California-based university that provides courses in English-Spanish or English-Tagalog language pairs. After completion of 200-hour course and final exams, one will also receive a Medical certificate. What makes their program extremely attractive is that one not only can complete online interpreter training or choose to take in-class instruction but mix the two in the most convenient way.
This university provides several programs for bilinguals who would like to pursue a career as interpreters within the legal field. Apart from court interpreting courses, they also offer a preparation program for the New York State Court Exam. A considerable advantage of their courses is that the only prerequisites for them are a high school diploma and tests both languages.
After completion of program for English-Spanish court interpreter, one will be eligible to apply for work in state courts and other legal instances. Those who would like to work for federal courts after completion of the program can pass the Administrative Office of the United States Courts certification examination. San Francisco State University offers all of its court interpreter courses online and in-class.
Sign language certification programs offered by RID are probably the best choice for most aspiring sight language experts due to their variety and flexibility. The programs they offer are National Interpret Certification, Provisional Deaf Interpreter Credential, or a Certified Deaf Interpreter.
To summarize, this profession has high demand as well as high salary but in return demands high language skills, good concentration skills, broad vocabulary in different spheres. Passing a training or couple of courses will boost your confidence, broaden your knowledge, provide more experience that is very useful for this profession. So, never be discouraged – always look for opportunities that may help to reach new pick in your career.
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