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A MA shares her experience on a Conference Interpreting course

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Teresa López González talks about her experience studying Conference Interpreting as an MA in the London Metropolitan University. I figured this would be an interesting topic for those of you considering college tuition and joining the field of interpreting.

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What made you choose London Met?

I studied a BA in Translation and Interpreting in Spain and I loved interpreting. However, after university, I got a full-time job and never worked as an interpreter. A few years later I still wanted to give it a go and become a professional interpreter so I decided to move to the UK to brush up on my English. I worked in PR for two years and then I started looking for MAs in Conference Interpreting. I was already living in London and the MA at London Metropolitan University offered the possibility to work into your B language, which caught my attention. Not all MAs offer this option and I thought working into a B language would be crucial for the private market.

For those of you who are not aware, interpreting has a language classification. That's A, B and C. A is your main fluent language. B is your secondary fluent language that is not your mother tongue. And C is a language you understand fully but which you do not work with.

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Do you get to do much practical work or an industry placement on the course?

There is theory and practice on the course, but most of the work is practical. There are regular mock conferences on international trending topics, such as immigration or recycling, and tutorials for every language combination for both consecutive and simultaneous interpreting. There is a focus on current affairs and public speaking skills too.

During the second semester, students are in charge of organising the mock conferences themselves, from contacting speakers and asking them to give speeches, to dealing with the technical aspects of the equipment. I thought this was an excellent way of learning about conference management and all the aspects it entails, which could be helpful in the future for those interested in becoming consultant interpreters.

Another aspect of the course I would like to mention is collaborative learning. From the start, students are strongly encouraged to collaborate with each other. I was a bit reluctant in the beginning, but I soon learnt the benefits of this approach and just how much you can learn from colleagues. It is also a way of optimising your working time and helping you get to grips with new tools and digital platforms. Although it is often seen as a solitary job, interpreters don’t work in isolation and need to be team players too!

Students at London Met are offered plenty of placement opportunities in London and abroad. I was lucky to be selected for study visits to the EU in Brussels and the UN in Geneva, two exciting and incredibly valuable experiences. Later, I also did a week of dummy booth practice at the International Maritime Organization, a specialised UN agency whose HQ is in London.

Besides international organisations, there are also many other options like interpreting for charities, NGOs or shadowing professional interpreters at work. I was a volunteer interpreter for a week at the Caux Forum in Switzerland this summer and I have volunteered for Amnesty International as well. I would encourage students to do as many placements as possible!

Seems like this course in particular is keen on making the student learn about the tools of the trade much more than the theory of it. Very important!

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What did you like best about your course?

If I had to choose a few highlights of this course, I would include: the possibility of doing dummy booth practice at international organisations, the consistent encouragement to have an online presence and gain visibility, and having virtual classes with other universities.

You can check the full interview here. She also talks about some of the details on the course and what she believes would help improve it in the full article.

Have you researched where to study interpreting? Do you have your own story to share on this matter? Let us know!

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