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A conference interpreter works at international seminars and conferences to enable and help participants to freely communicate with each other by almost eliminating the language barrier. Conference interpretation is broadly of two types.
- Consecutive interpretation- Here, the interpreter sits with the delegates, listens to them while they are making their speech, and takes down necessary notes. After the delegate has completed the speech, the interpreter repeats the speech or its major points in first person terms in the target language. The increasing numbers of multi-lingual meets and conferences have reduced the usage of consecutive interpretation to a large extent.
- Simultaneous interpretation- Here, the interpreters sits in a sound proof booth, listens to the speech or comments from the meet through headsets. While listening to the comments and speeches, the interpreters interpret them in the target language at the same time. They speak into microphones and their words are transmitted through headsets to the delegates.
Course on Conference Interpretation
A person willing to pursue a career in conference interpretation needs of have a post graduate degree in the same for developing professional skills. He/she needs to have excellent command over his/her mother tongue, and superb communication skills. One must possess the ability to express oneself clearly and comprehensively. Being bilingual is not mandatory but basic understanding of the foreign languages they wish to interpret is necessary for obvious reasons.
Most of the courses on conference interpretation are of post graduate level. The essential qualification therefore is a Bachelors degree. However, the graduation degree does not necessarily have to be in any language. Both full time and part time courses are available and the modules include a range of language combinations. Course works are extensive and include regular practice sessions. Students may be required to interpret at dummy booths or sit in meetings and practice interpreting them. Along with practice sessions in curriculums, one has to work hard outside it as well in order to gain expertise. Running mock simulations, recording them and requesting assistance from instructors and coaches will help.
Apart from regular degree courses, there are also integration programs aimed at training interpreters for certain languages in which there is a shortage of professional interpreters. Because of the huge demand for interpreters these days, various public and private grants, fellowships and scholarships are offered to universities and institutes.
Conference interpretation basically has two markets. These are the private and the institutional markets. The private market is generally local in nature involving bi-lingual meets and conferences. Here interpreters may need to work on their mother tongue as well as some other language simultaneously. Institutional market on the other hand is the one that involves activities of international organizations. Here the interpreter might need to interpret several languages into his/her mother tongue. The International Association of Conference Interpreters, founded in 1953, is the only association of conference interpreters.