Wednesday, January 18, 2012

How to Become an Interpreter

To be an interpreter is like being an actor in a play - except you don\'t get to see the script until you're on stage, in front of the audience.
Recently, we’ve been receiving emails from a lot of translators who want to start doing interpretation assignments. They are basically professional translators who have a solid knowledge about the translation process. But does this experience guarantee success as an interpreter? I believe not. However, some basic preparation should be very useful if you want to switch to basic interpreting work.  

Here are some tips:

-Oral skills
This might seem quite obvious, but apart from having wide general knowledge of the language, you must also be a good speaker as well. Having to translate inside your head and then immediately explaining what you’ve just heard in other language is significantly more demanding than simply writing it out. You must do it quickly, and often while the person is still speaking.

-Gather information
When possible, request any written materials that will be used in advance so that you can familiarize yourself with the subject matter. Sometimes there\'s no literature, and even when there is, the client may not get it to you on time. 

-Prepare the subject
Apart of the information the client provides to you, be sure you do your own research. For instance, if you are translating a meeting between a securities company and its client, you must review all the vocabulary you know in relation to this issue.

Take a speech on, let’s say, YouTube, and interpret what you hear in a loud voice. It is really important that you do it in a loud voice to get a sense of reality. 

-Don’t hesitate
Don’t stop talking in order to find the exact word. If it does not come to your mouth immediately, find a synonym or a similar word. 

-Take notes
Whenever any of the speakers gives the name of a company, person, or place, write it down. 

Also, when interpreting any kind of speech, either consecutively or simultaneously, don\'t just research the subject matter, research the speaker as well.

-Here is my last and best advice:
Learn to say ‘No’.” Having dozens of people looking at you when you are trying to interpret something that is over your capacity can be stressful, if not downright embarrassing. You can take on the challenge of a text, but you can’t challenge a client who is paying you.