Howdy all, I’ve got another batch of questions.
This time, however, they’re all about interpretation.
Before you keep reading, though, you first should decide whether you want to become a translator or interpreter.
Once that’s decided, then you can look into what it takes to become an interpreter.
Here’s some common questions about this that I’ve gotten (as well as the answers I responded with):
- Ana asked: I am interested in becoming a Spanish Interpreter, but I do need to know what are the first steps I need to take. For example, what classes do I need to take for the area I am interested in pursuing? I am mostly interested in working with Sacramento or Yolo counties or perhaps one of the courts. Please tell me where I should go to pursue this goal and accomplish my goal as a Spanish Interpreter.
- Jennifer asked: I have been speaking Spanish for 13 years and I would really like to be certified. Can you please help me know what to do?
- Alondra asked: I want to be an interpreter when I grow up. I know how to speak Spanish and English but I need some information on how to become an interpreter. Any advice?
- Gabriel asked: I just moved to Canada and I am interested in finding out what type of certification is required to work in Canada as a Court or Medical Interpreter. Is there a state Certification or Federal?
- Isabel asked: I’m currently a junior this year in high school and want to be an interpreter when I graduate. I’m also bilingual and was wondering if I should go off to college and get a degree, and if so, where? Where would it be cheaper but at the same time really good?
The hardest part about becoming an interpreter or a translator is taking that first step. Well, actually, the hardest part is knowing how to take the first step.
It can be easy to get bogged down with everything that it seems you have to do, but it’s really important to take it one step at a time.
First, you need to make sure that your language skills are up to par. Just because you are bilingual doesn’t mean that you will be able to interpret. One way that you can know whether or not you like interpreting or have a knack for it is this:
Open up YouTube and find a video of someone talking. It can be about anything you want. If you know a second language, then try to interpret the person in the video. You most likely won’t be very good at it if it’s your first time ever interpreting.
If you don’t know a second language, you can still get the gist of interpreting by doing something called shadowing. Open up that same YouTube video and when the person starts talking, follow along by saying the same thing the speaker says with a delay of one or two seconds. Make sure you do this out loud.
If you hate this, you might not like interpreting. But if you like it, you might have a knack for interpreting.
Once you realize that you like the idea of interpreting, then you need to actually practice to get good enough to have clients.
The way you can practice is by interpreting everything you listen to. You can use the TV, the radio, the Internet. Really anything that will help you get the practice you need. There is no shortage of practice material when it comes to interpreting.
Then, once you feel comfortable with your skills, it’s time to go out into the community and offer your abilities and try to get some real world experience. You can do this by volunteering at charitable organizations or schools.
If you’re specifically interested in becoming a court interpreter, be sure to read the following articles:
- How to become a court interpreter in Texas
- Where to find freelance interpreter jobs
- How to become a federal court interpreter
If you are interested in becoming an interpreter in Canada, here are some resources that I would check out:
- Canadian Translators, Terminologists and Interpreters Council
- The Association of Translators and Interpreters of Alberta
P.S. If you want more tips on how to become a successful language professional, read my book.