For individuals who have travelled to a foreign country without knowing its native tongue, it goes without saying that it can be challenging, and often frustrating, to communicate the most basic of needs and inquiries. Having travelled in a number of countries, I have seen first-hand how often the need for interpretation arises. In the Dominican Republic, I became an on-the-spot interpreter when a German-speaking couple arrived at the hotel where I was staying. Unfortunately, although the hotel advertised that it had German speaking staff, the sole German speaker was not present at that time. As such, I was able to communicate with the German couple, who knew basic English, and interpret their concerns to the unilingual Spanish speaking manager, and then accompany the couple to a hotel that had vacancies. On another trip to the Dominican Republic, I had to resolve a legal issue by speaking in Spanish with the Dominican lawyer, and interpreting for the client. A number of years ago, I was in a church in Canada when a lady who had dropped off her son from Bible club rushed in, speaking to me only in French, trying to find her son. These experiences offer a small glimpse into the opportunities available for interpreters.
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Forms of Education for Interpreters
• University and/or community interpretation courses
• Multicultural Centre/community center cultural interpretation training certificate programs
• Government accreditation programs
• Self-education, such as concentrated immersion for a period of time in the source language.
• Online and/or in-person training seminars
• Continuing education programs offered by professional translator associations. In addition, there are language training courses offered by other professional associations, such as specialized language training for accountants, lawyers and doctors.
Sources of Interpretation Work Locally
• Federal/State/Provincial/Regional/Municipal Governments: Most government entities maintain a roster of accredited interpreters that can provide interpretation for a variety of situations, in particular, for refugee and immigration hearings and interviews.
• Local Multicultural Centres: Most cities, or at least large urban centres, usually boast local multicultural centres, which maintain a roster of qualified interpreters.
• Phone Interpreting: Some language services companies offer telephone interpreting options which allow interpreters to stay either at home or at a nearby local call centre.
• Airports: A number of airports, especially those considered to be major international hubs, have great needs for interpreters to assist travelers who may not be able to understand directions from airline and custom agents.
Sources of Interpretation Work Abroad
• Hotels and Resorts
• Businesses involved in international trade
• Business/Motivational Speakers travelling to give conferences and seminars abroad
• Religious clergy travelling as missionaries to foreign countries
• Civil State Offices - weddings officiated in only the native tongue, performed for foreign brides and grooms
• Government offices/departments
• Professional Groups – lawyers, accountants, physicians, business owners often want to set up cross-cultural and/or multi-national partnerships, but have little to no linguistic ability to work with their target group
• Travelling Companion/Host/Hostess – Being able to accompany an individual to a country where they cannot communicate in the native tongue is also a way to use interpretation skills.