Training to be a conference interpreter is demanding and working as one is restrictive:
- Conference interpreters have been trained in simultaneous interpreting in a booth: their right hemisphere needs to communicate with their left hemisphere so that they can simultaneously listen and speak. It’s a type of intellectual gymnastics which is learned and requires practice.
Several schools in France offer world-class training: ESIT (École Supérieure d’Interprètes et de Traducteurs) and ISIT (Institut Supérieur d’Interprétation et de Traduction), both in Paris and IPLV (Institut de Perfectionnement aux Langues Vivantes) in Angers.
- Becoming proficient in simultaneous interpreting requires having full command of two languages and their grammar as well as an excellent memory (let’s take German as an example: interpreters need to wait until the end of the sentence before they know what the verb is and carry on listening to the speaker when they begin rendering the previous idea in the target language)
- Extensive knowledge enables interpreters to adapt to all topics – that’s why a Sciences Po course in connection with a conference interpreting degree is always a plus – but that alone is not enough. To do a really good job, the interpreter must immerse themselves in the topic of the conference and unravel all of the concepts which they do not understand before the conference – in other words they need to prepare in order to achieve excellence.
- Conference interpreters are also trained to provide “consecutive” interpreting. They learn to take notes and then act as a speaker to render the speech for a period of up to between 10 and 15 minutes. While less impressive than simultaneous interpreting, this discipline is the most difficult for interpreters. Indeed, it requires interpreters to have expertise and interpersonal skills.
- Lastly, conference interpreters are bound by a stringent code of conduct and total confidentiality since they always work in strategic contexts.
CG Traduction & Interprétation provides guidance as well as professional, prepared and skilled interpreters who are well-acquainted with the topics covered in your conferences.
As an aside:
One morning we were contacted by a ministerial office to interpret a comprehensive financial intervention that very evening. All hands on deck at CG: we had the morning to find the right interpreter for the evening, which was no mean feat!
We were fortunate to secure the interpreter we would have chosen had the request been made one year in advance!
When we called the client to find out if they were satisfied, they told us that: “yes, but… after the conference, the journalists only commented on the quality of the interpreting…”. Is this a good or bad thing?