Monday, March 24, 2014

On Interpreter Training (Part 1)

Here at Become a Conference Interpreter! we know that the key to staffing all 23 booths at the EU (Make that 24, Croatia! Will you share once Serbia makes the cut?) is to conceive appropriate training programmes throughout the United States of Europe. For that reason, today we will focus on being admitted to an interpreter training progamme and what to expect.

Is a European Masters in Conference Interpreting right for you?  It depends.  How many languages do you speak?  Which ones?  Is Italian your mother tongue? (If so, please find a new outlet. Your booth is going to be seeing le vacche magre until Silvio Berlusconi finally gets an ergastolo, which is never).  Did you spend your summers in Malta learning English, and do Erasmus in Aix?  Have a good handle on Deutsch? Did you see L’Auberge Espagnol 6,000 times and decide you wanted to make it a reality?  Love les moules frites and gauffres?  

Not so fast, pessoal! Being an amorphous pan-European with multilingual skills is just one facet of becoming a conference interpreter. Language ability is not all it takes! A good interpreter must possess analytical skills that would bring math and philosophy majors to their knees, have the gift of gab à la Bill Clinton, and enjoy psychological abuse that makes Guantánamo look like Euro Disney. Are you into S&M?  Specifically, the M part? Then an EMCI program might just be a good fit for you! However, before you can begin your training, you must sit an EMCI admissions exam.

All EMCI schools have aptitude tests. The test panel generally includes a majority of professional interpreters, interpreter trainers, and sadists. These tests may vary for a number of reasons to do with the number of applicants, the language combinations offered, institutional constraints, or the mood of the président du jury because there were no more seats on the metro and he had to ride standing up all the way across town, and after his flight home from a six day conference in Dublin on fisheries was delayed by four hours last night.  
These tests are designed to test applicants for the skills and traits mentioned above. These are rigorous tests: conference interpreting is a demanding profession, much like being a spy, a neurosurgeon, or a cosmonaut. Usually, aptitude tests are comprised of a few interpreting exercises and memory tests, followed by an interview, designed to gauge whether or not you have the cultural panache and mental toughness (read: self-flagellating tendencies and thriving on threats of punishment) necessary to endure the next grueling 12-24 months and keep coming back to the trough for more.
You will be convened at 9:00 on a hot summer morning. We advise you bring a bottle of water and a hefty dose of patience, as you might be waiting several hours as your fellow candidates run out of the interview room in tears. When you finally make it into the exam room, be prepared for your every utterance to be scrutinized and torn apart. You will be asked to interpret short speeches without notes from your C languages into your A, and from your A into your B (Don’t know what those are? Don’t you know it’s the interpreter’s job to always be prepared mon gars?!). If the jury is feeling especially sadistic, they will ask you to perform a sight translation. Those aren’t awkward silences, Liebling, but rather judgmental stares! Have them ask you insulting rhetorical questions like: “¿Eso se dice en español? “Verwendet man wirklich diesen Begriff?” When you attempt to answer, they will cut you off: “No, no existe. “Mangelhaft!”  They will then ask you about specific psalms and Biblical references from a speech given in America last month.
Once you are done with your exam, thank the jury, and fight back the tears as you exit the building. Namby pamby sentimentality will only reinforce the fact that you are not ready to begin training. When you arrive home: try to relax. Smoke a joint, take out a hammer, and smash the twenty euro CD you purchased to prepare for the stupid test.  
Soon enough, a very humiliating public announcement will be posted on a bulletin board and online, so you can find out whether you are one of the Chosen Ones (or not). If you are, enjoy the moment.  Smile, have a beer, and celebrate like it’s your last day on Earth.  Your life as you now know it is now over. Forever. Scheiße.  

No comments:

Post a Comment