Thursday, 14 August 2014

CCIC interpreting course


Recently I was lucky enough to spend a day observing an interpreting course -- the CCIC. This course is run by high up professionals who work within organisations such as NATO, the UN and the EU, and is a great opportunity for those wanting to improve their interpreting skills.

I must admit that I was quite nervous at the start, because I had never talked to a proper interpreter before, never mind sitting in a room with dozens of them! I also was not sure whether I would get in the way, or simply be ignored. However, I needn't have worried, because I can assure you that the people on the course were extremely friendly and helpful.

Several talks were given, including information on diplomatic interpreting and chuchotage (whispered interpreting), which I found incredibly useful, as I aim to work as an interpreter after my Master's degree, and information like this will help me to develop my skills more quickly.

Most useful though, were the conversations I had with the interpreters themselves, who seemed quite curious about me, perhaps as I was at least a few years younger than everyone else in the room. Various specific tips from "try hard to keep up your French" to "make sure you can hear yourself when you're interpreting" have allowed me to see into my chosen career, and decide whether it's as exciting as I once thought.

And it certainly is! (no, really!)

I even got to spend some time in the booth, which, for those who are in the dark about interpreting, is a small sound-proofed area used for simultaneous interpretation, so that you can focus on speaking clearly and listening through the headphones without distraction. Of course, my language skills are not yet high enough that I can interpret properly, but I did get to try 'shadowing'.

This entails listening to a speech in your A language (mother tongue) and repeating it out loud. Doesn't sound too difficult, does it?

Well, it's harder than you might imagine! This exercise forces you to listen and speak simultaneously, while still having full control and concentration. There is a delay between hearing a sentence and repeating it back, so you must keep the sentence in your short term memory and say it, while you listen to the next one. Then, once you can shadow with your A language, you move onto another language, and eventually move on to 'proper' interpreting.

I found this rather tiring, and it only served to further increase my admiration for simultaneous interpreters, who not only have to think and speak at the same time, but also translate the sentence immediately. I really hope that in the future I will be of a high enough level to manage all of this, because it's a field that I am extremely interested in, and visiting the course has confirmed my desire to make this my career.

I am very grateful for having been met with such a friendly vibe at the course, and I would recommend it to any serious interpreter. I learned a great deal, even just on one day, and so I intend to return to the course in the future, when I am of a suitable level!

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