Interpreters translate or convert the spoken word from one language to another. Interpreters come in handy when two groups or people from different localities do not speak the same language. Therefore, interpreters allow people from different cultures to communicate and understand one another. Interpreters can also convert the spoken word into sign language and vice versa, where deaf individuals are concerned.

For interpreters to do their jobs correctly, they have to listen, understand and memorize the content used in the original source language before reproducing it in the target language. The process of interpreting can be completed in person, via telephone or through various video conferencing and internet based apps.

Types of interpreting

There are different types of interpreting which include:

Simultaneous interpretation

This type of interpreting occurs simultaneously as the interpreter immediately converts what the speaker is saying, as he or she is saying it. For such interpretation to occur, the interpreter must wear an earpiece.

Consecutive interpretation

This is more common in business settings and meetings. Here, the speaker pauses after each sentence or point so that the interpreter can translate what is being said bit by bit in the appropriate language.

Liaison interpretation

This type is also commonly called hoc and relay. It simply means two-way interpreting whereby the speaker pauses as the interpreter translates sentence by sentence. It is common in telephone translation or legal and medical translations.

Sign language translation

Here, spoken language is converted into sign language and vice versa. This type of translating is usually simultaneous and interpreters will typically take turns (after 30 to 45 minutes) as it can be time-consuming and tasking owing to the level of concentration that is required.

How to become an interpreter

Earn a degree or qualification

Though not necessary, a bachelor’s degree is important to have if you want to become a successful interpreter especially within the government or in some high-level firm. Some interpreters major in specific areas such as business administration so that they can gain the right expertise to be able to interpret in that sector properly.

Go to formal interpreting school

Many colleges, universities, and online training programs offer lessons to students interested in becoming interpreters. Depending on your field or where you work, you may be required to undergo formal training. Some employers provide the training themselves in-house particularly if the nature of the work is sensitive or requires certain guidelines to be followed.

Take voluntary tests

There are plenty of free online tests that can test an interpreter’s proficiency in one language. Even though most tests do not qualify as credentials, they are important in helping to prove whether one can interpret the languages in question properly.