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How to prepare for an interpreting job?

  Tags: Interpreting | Jobs | Career
 Language Learning Forum : Languages & Work Post Reply
Joined 2911 days ago

47 posts - 58 votes 
Speaks: Portuguese*, English, French
Studies: German

 Message 1 of 5
21 May 2014 at 3:59am | IP Logged 
So a friend just called me... he's helping organize a conference at a local university, but the assigned interpreter is sick and won't be able to make it - so he's asking me to go instead. The conference will be given in French, in which I believe to be around B2-C1 level, and I will be given lecture notes a few hours in advance to prepare vocabulary. But I'm pretty nervous. So I was wondering if anyone here has any recommendations for how to prepare for this kind of job? I know it's kind of an absurd question, but any tips would be helpful.

Thanks so much!

Edited by nystagmatic on 21 May 2014 at 4:03am

1 person has voted this message useful

Senior Member
Russian Federation
Joined 5199 days ago

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Speaks: Russian*, English, FinnishC1, Latin, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese
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 Message 2 of 5
21 May 2014 at 6:02am | IP Logged 
The best option: help them find a trained interpreter who's willing to do this. Simply spreading the info on facebook should help. BTW make sure you're not expected to do simultaneous interpreting.

Also, is it a regular conference and are there any recordings from the previous ones?

What I would do if I really had to:
1. find a recording (if there's nothing from this particular conference, then just anything on the same topic or involving the same speakers)
2. interpret it, pausing as necessary
3. record yourself interpreting, while listening to the audio in your earphones. you may want to take some time to get used to it before you start recording.
4. listen to the recording and evaluate how natural you sound in your L1. by this point you'll know what specific problems you might have, so you can look for the solutions online and/or come back to ask.
5. revise a list of the common "false friends". See if you can find any texts that deliberately use them, and practise translating them.
4 persons have voted this message useful

Senior Member
Joined 2969 days ago

152 posts - 263 votes 
Studies: German*, French, EnglishC2
Studies: Japanese, Norwegian

 Message 3 of 5
21 May 2014 at 8:51am | IP Logged 
How well do you understand the language? You say B2-C1, but that's a bit low for interpretation purposes. Will you have to interpret in both directions (PT<>FR)? What kind of interpretation will it be (consecutive, simulteanous, chuchotage, or rather "sentence by sentence" on stage)?

-For consecutive interpreting, note-taking is a very important skill, but I guess it's too late to learn this... it takes quite a while.
-Simultaneous interpreting: don't do it... you can't do it without proper training.

If you really want to do it: learn all the technical terms which appear in the lecture notes by heart, in both languages. Is there any chance you can receive the lecture notes at an earlier date?
2 persons have voted this message useful

Bilingual Hexaglot
Senior Member
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Speaks: French*, Luxembourgish*, GermanC2, EnglishC2, SpanishC2, ItalianC1
Studies: Russian, Dutch, Portuguese, Indonesian

 Message 4 of 5
21 May 2014 at 11:03am | IP Logged 
I'm afraid this is a suicide-mission.
B2 or even C1 is not enough for professional interpreting, especially if you are expected to do PT -> FR too. Keep in mind that professional conference interpreters usually have a masters degree and years of practical training and mentoring.

If it's simultaneous interpreting, there's no way anyone can do that without proper training. And that takes years. There's a reason simultaneous interpreters work in pairs and switch every half an hour or so to take a break. It's an extremely challenging and stressful job.
If it's consecutive interpreting, how would you do that without having learned a proper note-taking technique?

The only way you might be able to pull it off would be if you receive the complete lectures a few days in advance, translate them and have them revised by a professional, so you could just read the translation instead of interpreting.

The conference attendees expect a professional interpreter to be there. Imagine that you have to give up after 10 minutes because you realize that you can't do it, because you are too nervous, the speaker has an accent you don't understand, he speaks too fast, etc. etc.
Don't take the risk of ruining the conference, let a professional do it: see
International Association of Conference Interpreters
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Senior Member
Joined 2969 days ago

152 posts - 263 votes 
Studies: German*, French, EnglishC2
Studies: Japanese, Norwegian

 Message 5 of 5
21 May 2014 at 1:00pm | IP Logged 
I totally agree with what Iwwersetzerin has written. I hadn't been clear enough in my comment.

2 persons have voted this message useful

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