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How to start work as a translator or interpreter


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I don't know whether this is the right section to post this, but I couldn't see anywhere else that was more suitable.

I am looking into being an interpretor/ translator, but don't really know how to go about it.

Thing is, I don't know what is the best qualification to undertake.

I'm 23, and already have an unfinished degree under my belt, and so don't want to start another unnecessary/ wrong one, and be wasting my time more.

I'm about to start an American Studies and Chinese Studies part time degree, but have only recently firmly decided on interpretation/ translation as a career choice.

And so now, I don't know whether this is the best thing to do.

Can I go into interpretation/ translation without a degree? Or is there some kind of direct access course that would benefit me better than this degree?

At the moment, my English, in all aspects, is at the level of a native speaker (if not better, I've been told. But this is only due to my being a grammar and spelling maven o_O), and my Chinese... Well, my pronunciation is like a native, but my vocabulary is lacking.

Can anyone suggest the best next step? Will this degree in AS and CS be the best thing? Can I get away with a shorter Chinese language course somewhere (the degree will take me about 6 yrs due to being part time)? Can I get into it without a degree?

I've looked around on some career advice websites and things like that, but they don't really help me in choosing what I want to do NOW; only what to do after I have the relevent qualifications.

Thanks in advance for any help anyone can offer! :)

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  • 1 month later...

I suggest the language-learning strategies from http://alljapaneseallthetime/

It's applicable to chinese too, don't worry. One big thing for learning vocab would be the use of some SRS flashcard software, such as Anki ( http://ichi2.net/anki/ ). One of the good suggestions from the AJATT site is that you should make your flashcards with full sentences rather than just 1 vocab word, because the sentence will give you the correct context. Then, the SRS software will remind you at the right times in order to build your long-term memory.

What i do is read chinese books from the library, and i take any interesting sentences and put them into Anki. I pick sentences that have a new grammar construct, or have new vocab, or maybe a new chengyu. Once it's in Anki, i don't have to worry about remembering the concept because Anki will do its best to program my long-term memory for me. I'm learning quite a lot of new vocab this way, as well as picking sentences that i hear on chinese radio shows, such as the ones from Radio Canada International, at http://www.rciviva.ca/rci/ch/ (they also have a podcast set up so you can download the mp3s).

If you don't already know 3000+ characters, then i suggest you use Anki for that too. It works really well, and you can pretty easily learn more than 2000 in 3 months (or less), which is easily enough to read most books. I recommend doing this before taking more chinese courses. it'll make things SOOO much easier in the long run.

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