The work of an interpreter comes with a lot of misconception yet seems to interest a lot of people.
Interpretation, many think, only concerns organizations such as the United Nations or African Union which is far from the truth. We have clients from all walks of life with assignments that are both official and unofficial.
Let’s take for example a man/woman planning a holiday in a country where he/she does not speak the local language, the person contact us and we provide our services during the trip.
NO, speaking two or more languages does not make you an interpreter. YES, it is one of the most rewarding and don’t forget demanding work. To become an Interpreter is pretty simple.
Step 1: Get a university degree
The unfortunate thing about the industry is that everybody thinks they can become an interpreter if they speak at least two languages. Interesting enough is that I have met natives who can’t even interpret much less someone who learned the language without any professional education. The best way to remain competitive and an expert in your field is by completing a university degree. If, however, you do not have the resources to enroll in a reputable university, you can still become an interpreter by being focus, practicing and being consistent in your work.
Step 2: Get a recorder
Read in silence an article in your source language then dictate a translation into your equivalent target language. This will help you practice your vocabulary closely and develop your listening skills. Remember that in simultaneous work you listen to the speaker and yourself to monitor what you say. Do it regularly, daily if you can and make sure to record yourself throughout your sessions.
After a week, try listening to an interview on TV or radio and follow the step mentioned above. Do it repeatedly with and without a headphone. When using a headphone, remember to keep the volume low to hear yourself. Keep practicing as often as you can. Practice makes perfect. If you can, visit the country and learn their culture.
Step 3: Understand the context
As mentioned in Step 2, interpretation requires active listening. It is important to understand what the speaker means more than what he says. What is the general context of the speech? Always ask your client what the theme for the conference/meeting is all about- this will give you a general idea of the context. When practicing, this may not be relevant.
During the speech, pay close attention to the body language, the intonation, the lips movement to anticipate the direction the speech is most likely to take. This will also assist when reformulating the person’s idea from the target language while respecting the content of the source language as your audience wants to also hear you. Remember to keep calm and to ALWAYS record yourself.
Being polite, focused, sensitive and respectful are important to being successful.