What it Takes to Be an Interpreter

Being an interpreter is one of the most rewarding career paths out there. You get to help people, learn about new cultures, and make a difference. Whether you’re helping a business deal go through, or making sure a patient understands a doctor, interpreters are extremely important. However, not many people understand how much work goes into becoming an interpreter, or what the job truly entails. But with demand for professional interpreters on the rise, it may be time to learn more about what it takes to become an interpreter.

Education and Affinity

To be a professional interpreter, it all starts at school. You need a knack for language and the desire to pursue it. Typically, professional interpreters need at least a Bachelor’s Degree to practice. Fortunately, many universities offer courses that teach important language skills to prepare you for the field of interpretation. However, a Bachelor’s Degree isn’t all you’ll need. In addition to native level proficiency in your first language, you need to be adept and experienced in any language you’re interpreting. Being able to read and write in a language is one thing, but acting as an interpreter in real-time is very different. You need to be able to understand native accents, and comprehend when the language is spoken at conventional speed.


Once you’ve become adept in at least two languages, it’s time to pick a specialty. Whether you’re working in conference rooms or courtrooms, every field has its own very specific lexicon and it’s important to understand it. There are many industries that rely heavily on interpreters, sometimes in life or death situations. Healthcare, emergency services, schools, and more employ interpreters on a daily basis and they all have field-specific jargon. Consider where your interests lie and focus on them. 


Many fields such as healthcare and law enforcement require further certification to become an interpreter. It is paramount that you get these certifications and keep them up to date. Once you’ve gotten the proper accreditation, you’re ready to work!

Additional Skills

While it takes a degree and a variety of certifications to become a professional interpreter, there are several other skills that are important to have. You need organizational skills, the ability to take notes, lead a session, and interpret a variety of topics. You need to understand the legal obligations of interpreters, and what your role will be daily. Professional interpretation isn’t for everyone, but those that do it are talented and dedicated to their craft. 


Interpreters work in a wide variety of settings and fields, from hospitals to courtrooms. There are several qualifications needed to become a professional interpreter, but it all starts with a love of language. Lots of people can speak a different language, but few can interpret or translate in real-time. At Access 2 Interpreters, we are dedicated to providing certified, professional interpretation and translation services to Ohio and across the United States. We are continuously recruiting interpreters and translators to expand our business and meet the needs of our clients. Any candidate we consider undergoes a rigorous multi-step interview process that tests their language proficiency by experts on staff and an additional third party. We know how quickly the needs of the industry can change, so we are constantly updating and growing our services to reflect that. 

We are so dedicated to properly trained and qualified candidates that we developed our own education department called Access Academy. The Academy is focused on the training and education of all interpreters and translators who we subcontract, consisting of training in ethics, legal and medical terminology, and more. This ensures that you get the best interpretation and translation services possible. If you’re interested in a career of interpretation and translation, or if you’re interested in working with us, visit our website to find out more!

Why Medical Interpreters are Important

Professional medical interpretation services are critical to health care facilities. According to the United State Census, 21.6 percent of Americans speak a language other than English at home. That means that one in five patients may speak a different language, which can make treatment extremely challenging. Medical lexicon is notoriously complicated, and it needs to be fully understood. If a doctor is trying to explain a complex medical procedure to a limited English speaking patient, deadly complications may occur. It’s extremely important to have interpretations available as a medical provider, and no one will appreciate it more than your patients. 

  1. They will feel understood– Living in a country where you don’t speak the primary language can be difficult, but it can be even harder if you need to seek medical care. Being injured or sick is already a scary experience, and can be that much more so if you don’t understand what’s being said to you. Speaking with a professional medical interpreter face-to-face can make patients more comfortable with the entire process, and ensures they understand what’s going on. At Access 2 Interpreters, we provide Face-to-Face, on site Interpretation Services in over 70 languages, so your patients are heard.
  2. They can provide more accurate information– Trying to diagnose a patient who speaks little to no English can be extremely difficult. While this may be made easier if the patient is accompanied by a friend or family member who speaks English more fluently, they often don’t know how to translate medical jargon. Furthermore, it may be a private matter that the patient does not want to discuss with someone close to them. A professional medical interpreter is key to fully conveying the nuances of different medical procedures, and providing unbiased and accurate information. At Access 2 Interpreters, we understand the need for empathy, confidentiality and professionalism in interpretation and translation. Our interpreters are extensively trained in the Canon of Ethics and Conduct for Court Interpreters, the Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice in Healthcare, and HIPAA, so patients can feel safe speaking with them.
  3. They’re less at risk– A limited English speaker seeking medical help without a proper interpretation is at a significantly higher risk of misdiagnosis. Having a professional medical interpreter can limit the potential complications that come with diagnosing a patient a doctor cannot directly communicate with. A professional interpreter can also ensure that the patient is able to give a complete and comprehensive medical history, and avoid bad interactions with treatments.  At Access 2 Interpreters, our trained interpreters are experts in medical, legal and social services terminology, so they can convey exactly what the patient is feeling, and what the doctor intends to do.

Professional medical interpreters are absolutely crucial to medical providers. From making their patients comfortable with procedures, to getting the right information clearly, medical interpreters save lives. At Access 2 Interpreters, our experts are trained to deal with a variety of different situations, from medical emergencies to legal disputes and social services issues. We offer face-to-face interpretation services in over 70 languages, and Video Remote Interpreting in both Spanish and American Sign Language, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In the event of an emergency, we can have a HIPAA qualified interpreter at your location within 40 minutes. At Access 2 Interpreters, we understand how important it is to communicate, and we make every effort to meet your interpretation and translation needs. 

If you’re interested in learning more about our seminars, interpretation or translation services, call us at (614) 221-1414 or send an email to info@access2interpreters.com.

Tips for Working With A2I Interpreters

Working with an interpreter is becoming more and more commonplace in business, but if you’ve never done it before you may not know what to expect. It’s a unique experience, a three-way conversation between two people, with the interpreter acting as a medium through which communication passes. Interpreters are talented professionals, but there are ways to make the entire experience more effective. From clear communication to established expectations, we’ve gathered the best tips for working with an interpreter. 

  1. Brief the interpreter– Before you start interpretation, it’s critical to give the interpreter a rundown of essential information. In order to provide the best service possible, interpreters need to know important people involved, key terminology, and what’s expected of them. Interpretation is an incredibly difficult job, and it’s made even harder if they’re asked to convey a very specific or technical term for which there is no direct translation.
  2. Speak directly to the non-English speaker– Remember that the interpreter is there to facilitate the conversation, not to be a part of it. Speak directly to your counterpart, show interest and stay engaged. Even if you can’t understand what’s being said, eye contact goes a long way in building trust and rapport. 
  3. Speak in short, complete segments– Interpreting in real-time can be a unique challenge because many languages do not have word for word translations to English. In order to ensure the best interpretation, speak in short sentences and try to express complete thoughts. Often interpreters will need to restructure a sentence in order for it to make sense, and that becomes significantly more difficult if they don’t have all the information. 
  4. Avoid using unnecessary idioms, metaphors, jargon and technical language- There are certain terms and phrases that present unique challenges to interpreters. For example, Idioms are inherently difficult to interpret, because they convey ideas that are indiscernible from the words they use. Similarly, jargon and technical language that may be common in the field in question don’t make sense when interpreted. Try to use simple, concise and descriptive language whenever possible, so nothing gets lost in interpretation. If technical terms are necessary to convey an idea, brief your interpreter on said terms ahead of time. 
  5. Budget your time– Be sure to allow for the additional time interpretation takes. A meeting that would take half an hour in one language may take an hour or more when interpreted; it’s essentially being held twice. Budgeting your time is key. The more rushed interpretation is, the more likely a mistake is to be made. 

As businesses become more global, it’s all the more important that everyone understands one another. At Access 2 Interpreters, we’re experts in translation, interpretation, and language. We can make sure that every party is on the same page. We offer document translation, voiceover translation services, and interpretation services in the majority of written languages. 

In our educational department, the Access Academy, we offer a variety of training seminars for our clients to learn about our interpretation services. Whether you’re working with an interpreter for the first time, or want to optimize your use of interpretation services, we work with you to help you get the most out of our professionals. From Face-to-Face, to Remote Video interpretation, we can help you determine what services are best for you. 

If you’re interested in learning more about our seminars, interpretation or translation seminars, call us at (614) 221-1414 or send an email to info@access2interpreters.com.

The Difference Between Voiceovers & Dubbing

We live in a multimedia world. Information can be read, watched, or listened and you need an interpretation and translation company that can keep up in the multimedia environment. When it comes to translating items such as documentaries, training videos, presentations, and CD recordings, you may need a voiceover or dubbing.



With a Voiceover, audio in the translated language is laid over the existing recording. The voiceover actor’s voice is heard loudly, but the original audio can still be heard in the background. With a Voiceover, there is no need to sync to anyone’s lips. Also, Voiceovers are more narrative, capturing the broader idea of the audio without being interpreted word-for-word. Because the speaker is being interpreted broadly, tone and emotion are not carried over. This is often called UN-style, after the United Nations, and is commonly used for business training and marketing materials.



Dubbing, also called language replacement, is very different from a voiceover. With dubbing, the original speaker’s voice is completely replaced with the new recording. Great care is taken that lips are synchronized, the words are interpreted closely, and the emotion and tone are carried over from the original speaker. A dubbing voice actor may spend hours in the studio with editors and producers as they perfect the match. This type of audio translation is uncommon in business, rather it is used for narrative films and recordings.


Why Do I Need Translation?

Great question. As a business owner or entrepreneur, there are countless opportunities for you to connect with customers and grow your business globally. Promotional video content can be easily shared on YouTube, Facebook, and other social platforms. Reaching an extended audience means you need to have videos available in multiple languages. Not only that, but your Voiceover needs to be done accurately and quickly.


At Access 2 Interpreters, we offer Voiceover Services for audio/visual materials of all kinds. We use a team-oriented approach with multiple levels of checks throughout the translation and voiceover process. We use translators and proofreaders who are native speakers of the target language and have superior knowledge of the source language. Our teamwork approach allows us to take on projects big and small.


Not ready for a Voiceover? Audio Transcription is a great alternative in which we translate your materials into multiple languages to accompany a video or audio recording or be used as subtitles. There’s no excuse to remain a single-language company with your materials and advertising. Call Access 2 Interpreters today for all your Interpretation and Translation needs.

Why Your Business Needs Translation Services

From emails and advertising to websites and blogs, your business does a lot of communicating. When it comes to your written business materials, you could be ignoring a critical market if you do not consider incorporating translation services into your business practices. Open the door of language and enter a global business sphere. Don’t think you have anything that needs translating? Here are some of the most common business items we translate:



The text on your webpage needs to speak to your company’s brand, values, and services—all while being easily readable. When LEP (Limited English Proficient) readers enter your site, they should have the option to read the page in their native language. Taking the extra step to have a bi- or tri-lingual website means visitors feel welcomed by your company, and they are more likely to hire or choose you. Focus on languages in the neighborhoods and markets you are targeting.



Content marketing is one of the strongest ways to build brand value and rapport with consumers, but if your blog is inaccessible to some markets, you could be missing out on connecting with more customers. Blogging is a valuable tool for offering useful and accurate information and as a source of passive income. Having your blogs translated into other languages will expand your traffic and boost your ratings and revenue.



Whether it’s a quick email update or a printed, snail mail-style newsletter, you need to keep in touch with customers. Engagement is key to bringing back clients, which is less expensive than marketing to and onboarding new ones. Translated newsletters will keep clients coming back to your store or business for more.



Your business probably has a pamphlet, leaflet, instruction booklet, menu, or brochure outlining your services, pricing, products, or more. Offering these in multiple languages will help consumers get the correct information because they can easily read and understand it. This is especially important in the travel and tourism industries which consistently market to a global customer.



People are swayed to buy a product or come to an event by the value of what they’re getting—not the price. Even high-priced items like luxury homes and vehicles are sold because the value of the item is worth what it costs. When a consumer can read about a product or learn about what’s happening at an event in their own language, they are more likely to see the value and be swayed by your marketing.


Forms & Agreements

Any intake forms, contracts, or agreements from your business need to be available in multiple languages for the protection of your consumer and yourself. Forms available only in English may be returned incomplete or incorrectly filled out due to misunderstandings. Consumers are cautious and may not sign agreements or other necessary documents if they can’t understand them fully. Don’t exclude your global customers; have your forms translated.


Financial Documents

Customers want to be sure of what’s happening with their money and should have the opportunity to read all financial documents in their own language. Trade and the movement of goods and money is a global affair. Gaining customers or vendors in global markets necessitates translating documents like invoices, financial forecasts, loan information, and more.


Legal Documents

Legal paperwork is already complicated when it’s in English, but add another language and it can become impossible to understand or be easily miswritten. Perhaps more than anything, legal and binding agreements and paperwork should be translated into multiple languages. This could include user agreements, terms and conditions, or any other legal document or contract.


Medical Information

Health is universal and your patients and/or customers may be LEP readers. Medication dosing information, home care instructions, therapy and drug pamphlets, healthcare records and reports, lab results, appointment reminders—these written communications need accurate translations to ensure all patients are receiving equally great health care.


Physical Signage

The signage around your business should be translated and friendly to a variety of on-location customers. This could include cautionary signage for wet floors or construction areas, bathroom signs, clearly marked emergency exits, rules and hours in public places like pools, libraries, malls, and parks… the list goes on. Although you think it may only be a few words, accurate translation is critical for understanding public signage.



The clear and precise language utilized throughout your business can be captured through the use of human translation services.  Automatic, online, and free translation programs are not always exact in their translation. Don’t rely on Google to translate your webpage or blogs for you. Some brands ended up with terrible misunderstandings when their slogans were automatically translated. These important business documents reflect the professionalism of your company, and you need them to be translated correctly. That’s why you should call on a translations company such as Access 2 Interpreters.


We offer Translation Services for all the documents listed here plus anything else you need. Our specially trained translators and proofreaders are native speakers of the target translation language. They also have superior knowledge of the source language and have obtained degrees in their country of origin or the US. All of our translators adhere to a Translator Code of Ethics and maintain strict confidentiality for our clients.


If you are a business owner, then you need translation services. Email your inquiry or project to translations@access2interpreters.com. We also offer Transcription and Voiceover services for multimedia business videos, presentations, and more. Get your translations performed by professional and reliable translators. Contact A2I today!

Can Anyone Learn a Language?

Are you one of those people who has tried to learn a language, but can’t seem to become fluent or even remember the vocabulary? Are you someone who believes that learning languages as children is easier and adults are just out of luck? Do you wonder if anyone can learn to speak a foreign language?


Then keep reading.


But first, why should we learn a new language at all? Being bilingual or a polyglot can increase brain power and benefit you at work. Persons who know more than one language have a 5-20% higher salary than monolinguists. Learning languages also opens you to new worlds and cultures.


Now, the science. There are many parts of the brain that control, regulate, and remember different things. During early years, children learning a language will process the information using the side of their brain associated with motor control. Essentially, they are remembering it as a series of breaths and facial movements.


When adults try to learn a language later in life, they process information using their higher cognitive function. Essentially, relying on memory rather than natural motions. This higher cognitive function is something that only develops later in life.


The use of different parts of the brain for learning does not put one group at an advantage over the other. Despite how our brain changes, those changes do not diminish our ability or capacity to learn. Does this mean everyone has an equal natural capacity to learn a language? Not quite.


There are many factors that determine how easy it will be to learn a language. Notice I didn’t say “if you can learn a language.” Everyone can learn a language with enough determination. (More on that later.) Your language learning capacity is about 16% due to your IQ. Another 10% can be attributed directly to your musical abilities. Studies suggest that the largest contributing factor to language learning is the mode in which you learn.


Remember, kids use the motor control section of their brain to comprehend and process a new language. They remember by forming the words with their lips and tongue. Adults rely on memory, the higher cognitive function. This may explain why you can understand a language better than you can speak it. This would lead to the conclusion that, biologically, learning by constant speaking and listening is the best method.


Really, there are many methods of language learning available, and each will have a variable level of success with each person. There is no way to say one language learning style is objectively better than the rest. What works for an auditory learner won’t be effective for a visual learner. Even if they are using the same part of their brain to process the information. Plus, some languages are naturally more difficult to learn, despite your cognitive power.


However, there is still a distinction between learning through immersion and learning through study. Those who focus solely on immersion may pick up a language with their motor function side of the brain because they are constantly trying to speak it.

But using this method may also cause misunderstandings in the grammar and syntax of the language. While pouring over textbooks and vocab cards may help you speak a language better, they are often not the first choice for learning a language for fluency in speaking.


The real answer to the question “can anyone learn a language” is YES! No matter the circumstances, age, or method, with enough determination and practice, absolutely anyone can learn a language. Persevere, stretch yourself, and you’ll find fluency in no time.


Don’t have time to learn a language? Call Access 2 Interpreters for your interpretation and translation needs. Our workers have the best training in the industry to ensure the best service for you. Call today!

New Year’s Traditions From Around the World

There isn’t a single person on Earth that doesn’t experience the new year, but people celebrate it in different ways around the world. From eating traditional foods to wearing specific colors of clothing to picking up potatoes (no joke), New Year’s Eve rituals are designed to bring luck and foretell tidings of the coming year. If you want to increase your good fortune in 2019, try one of these festive ideas from around the world.

Make sure you have a handful of grapes at your pocket if you’re partying in Spain. It’s tradition to eat one grape at each stroke of the clock at midnight for luck during the 12 months of the coming year.

If you visit Columbia on New Year’s Eve, expect to see people running around with suitcases. No, they’re not heading out on vacation. People carry suitcases for the day or around the house in the hopes of having a travel-filled new year.

The Danish people greet the new year by smashing their crockery against the doors of family and friends. This is a symbol of friendship and is thought to banish evil spirits away from the home. The more broken china you have on your doorstep come morning, the more popular you are.

To ring in the New Year, Finland residents pour melted metals (usually tin) into a container of water. As it rapidly cools, the metal hardens into a freeform shape. The shape it forms is meant to foretell what the coming year will bring.

Scotland likes to start off the new year on the right foot—literally. People invite family or friends over to their home and the first person to cross the threshold will be holding a gift. The tradition of “first-footing” is meant to bring luck into the household for the coming year.

The calendar has come full circle and people in the Philippines celebrate with everything circular or round shaped. Whether it’s eating rounded fruits and pastries or wearing polka dots, round shapes are thought to symbolize coins and wealth. The more roundness you celebrate on New Year’s Eve, the more money you will have in the coming year.

Brazil, along with many South and Central American countries, believes in the power of color. It’s a New Year’s Eve tradition to wear colored clothing, usually underwear, to represent what you want for the coming year. Red brings love, yellow brings wealth, and white signifies a longing for peace and happiness.

The Greeks celebrate the new year with a special break or cake called a vasilopita. This treat hides a coin or trinket inside. Each guest is given a slice (handed out from eldest to youngest) and whoever finds the coin in their piece wins a gift or money. In some traditions, additional slices are cut and placed aside to symbolically serve Jesus, Mary, or a particular saint being celebrated.

If you’re in Peru, go and stock up on potatoes. Peruvians lay three potatoes under a chair on New Year’s Eve. One is peeled, one half-peeled, and one is whole. Whichever potato is randomly chosen (without looking) at midnight will symbolize the financial fortune of the chooser. A peeled potato is bad news while the whole potato indicates forthcoming wealth.

Whether you try one of these fun traditions or make up your own, Happy New Year from Access 2 Interpreters!

October Holidays Around the World


October is unofficially known as the start of the “holiday season;” countries all over the world are holding festivities to celebrate a wide variety of holidays. From Mother’s Day in Malawi to Armed Forces Day in Egypt, there are any number of holidays to observe this October.


On October 3rd, you can throw up your hands and give a shout for Gaecheonjeol, also known as National Foundation Day. This South Korean holiday celebrates the founding of Gojoseon, the first Korean state, in 2333 BC. It was declared a national holiday in 1909 and the date was finally fixed on October 3rd in 1949. On this day, the Korean people are led by the head of state in a prayer service dedicated to the founding gods and the gods of the harvest. Afterward, they eat a traditional soup called Seolleongtang made from ox bones and cuts of beef.


October is Thanksgiving time, if you’re in Canada that is. Not to be outdone by Americans, our neighbors to the North have their own version of this holiday celebrated in October. The first Thanksgiving in Canada was observed in 1879 as a chance to give thanks over the many blessings bestowed on the Canadian people. The festivities and foods include parades, football games, and lots of turkey and pumpkin pie.


One of the most popular holidays in October is Oktoberfest. On October 12th, 1810, King Ludwig I married Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen and threw a party to celebrate in the fields (Wiesn) outside the gates of Munich. Oddly enough, the main attraction at this celebration was a horse race, not beer. In fact, beer didn’t make an appearance at Oktoberfest until 1892. Today, Oktoberfest has turned into a 16 to 18-day festival with over 6 million attendees who drink close to 7 million liters of beer each year.


In Thailand, on October 23rd, the people celebrate King Chulalongkorn Day. You may know him better as King Rama V, the fifth monarch of Siam. Born in 1868, he ruled (officially) from 1873 to his death in 1910. During his reign, he enacted several major reforms in education, military, and the railway. He is also responsible for abolishing slavery in Siam; a feat he accomplished without any bloodshed. The Thai people celebrate this holiday by placing wreaths and gathering around the various statues and monuments dedicated to this forward-thinking monarch.


Ever heard of the country of Nauru? It’s a small island in Micronesia that today hosts a population around 10,000. However, the native Nauru people have come close to extinction twice, with total populations falling below 1,500–considered the minimum needed to sustain a sub-population or race. To celebrate their twice miraculous return from the brink of extinction, they celebrate Angam Day on October 26th. In Nauruan, Angam translates into “celebration” or “coming home.”


Of course, you can’t mention holidays in October without mentioning Halloween. This holiday traces its roots back to Ireland and the ancient festival of Samhain, celebrated by the Celts to mark the end of the Harvest. The tradition of dressing up in costume to go trick-or-treating started in Ireland, Scotland, and Wales around the 16th century, but it wasn’t adopted widely in the US until the 20th century.


In between pulling your sweaters out of storage and ingesting pumpkin spice everything, take some time to celebrate all the amazing holidays around the world this October!

The Major Difference Between Interpretation and Translation

Access2Interpreters has been serving the Columbus area for over 13 years. We have staff trained in interpretive services for over 250 languages and dialects, and translation services for over 90 languages. While many people use the words interpretation and translation interchangeably, there is one major difference between them: interpretation is performed verbally while a translation is written.

When you look beneath this simple difference, you will find that the skills and knowledge for each are vastly different. It’s important to have the right person when you need to transform words and ideas clearly from one language into another.


Translation is done via the written word and makes use of reference guides and dictionaries to ensure accuracy. Translation is usually a one-way system, with the translator typically translating from a source text into their primary language.

Although a translator does not need to have spoken fluency in a language, they do need to have an in-depth knowledge of the vocabulary, grammar, spelling, colloquialisms, and cultures of both languages. Capturing meaning and hidden depth in a literary or academic paper requires finesse and thoughtfulness. Translating technical documents requires precise knowledge and analytical skills. All translators should be subject matter experts in the type of text they are translating.



Interpretation is the act of translating verbally from one language to another. It is performed on the spot and without the use of reference materials or dictionaries. Interpretation requires elevated fluency in both languages. There are two types of interpretive services.

One type of interpretive services is simultaneous interpretation. This occurs when an interpreter repeats each sentence immediately after it is spoken. Not only must the interpreter translate the sentence in their mind, accounting for cultural references and technical language, but they must also speak it out clearly and audibly. On top of that, they need to be listening for the next sentence and interpreting that mentally, all while speaking the previous sentence. If it sounds like a lot of work, that’s because it is.

Consecutive interpretation occurs when the speaker communicates several sentences or paragraphs at once before stopping to let the interpreter translate. A consecutive interpreter must be an excellent note taker as it is difficult for even the best minds to memorize whole paragraphs of lines to repeat to an audience.

Neither translating nor interpreting are about literal word-for-word conversion of one language to another. Both require an understanding of subject matter, a high degree of skill and proficiency in writing, listening, and speaking.


If you need translation or interpretive services in Columbus, call us today!

Interpreter Spotlight: Christopher Farhat

Interpretation can be a challenging but rewarding field of work.  Many of our interpreters work with us part-time, on top of their other responsibilities, such as parenting, or classes.  Others, like Christopher, plan on making a full-fledged career out of the interpreting profession.  Although Christopher has only been with us for a few months, he has already established a reputation as one of our hardest-working and most ambitious interpreters.  I had the opportunity to sit down and talk with him about how his time with Access is helping him work toward his future goals.  Check out what he had to say:

Q: How did you learn about Access, and why did you choose to work with us?

A: I already knew about the company through my mother, who already had been working for Access as an interpreter since September 2016.  First and foremost, I thought it would be a great avenue to get into the linguistic field.  I really like languages.  I’ve had a strong interest in languages since I was a kid, but I didn’t know how to get into a profession where I could use them actively.  Straight out of high school, things were rough, and even though I was consistently working (in great positions too!), I would not have been able to keep it up my entire life.  In the midst of this chaos, my mother made the suggestion that I should go to Spain for a year and learn the language thoroughly, and then I could become an interpreter.  So, I went to Spain for seven and a half months, where I lived with family, and really focused on learning the language, as well as field specific terms, just to be an interpreter, and so far, it’s been working out much better than anything else.

Q: Is there a history of working in language services in your family?

A: Almost none of my family actually lives in the United States.  Most of them live in Israel, Spain, or France.  Working in language services is something that’s specific to my immediate family, but it stems from a history of exposure to other languages, and a simple need to communicate.

 Q: Were you raised bilingually?

A: Not at home, but my siblings and I would go back and forth between Spain, France, and Israel every summer as children.  My extended family there may have been able to speak a little English, but mainly spoke Spanish, French, Arabic, and Hebrew.  So, as I just stated about my family, there’s just been a long history of exposure to languages, and spending extended periods of time around them definitely gave me a strong exposure to and attraction towards languages.

Q: What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced in the field, and what strategies do you use to overcome them?

A: For me, the diversity of assignments can be a little challenging.  Not necessarily the diversity in itself, but more so the fast-paced switching of gears mentally when getting out of one assignment and jumping right into a completely different situation immediately after.  You could be finishing up a simple school assessment one second and find yourself rushing to the emergency room to talk about something really serious the next, and you have to have all that vocabulary on-hand, to use at a moment’s notice. 

Additionally, you could go into a situation that may seem completely routine and easy but then turns immediately into something extremely serious, or even great. You could encounter Drugs, abuse, life expectancy issues, or even, on the other end, things such as deliveries, getting to tell people for the first time about their child, or delivering great surgery results.  Those are the things that make the job extremely difficult, yet what make the job more than worth it.

For me, the best strategy to be sure that I’m always ready for anything is constant preparation: Constantly drilling myself and expanding my vocabulary, so that eventually the words that I only have to deal with occasionally now become second nature.  That definitely helps with simultaneous interpretation.  Simultaneous interpretation takes a certain mindset.  There’s no time to process, it almost becomes automatic, like you enter a different level of consciousness, and sometimes I don’t even realize I’m talking, because you have to focus on everything else being said in the room, and you can’t break that focus to search for words.  Really, just training yourself and reviewing new words every day and night goes a long way.

Q: What advice would you give to someone looking to become an interpreter?

A: Make sure that not only you really understand your languages, but that you also understand other people’s language.  By that I mean, sure, you need to constantly study and know your terms, but it’s more than that.  You need to portray things according to individuals and the setting you’re in.  You become the voice of whoever you’re interpreting for, and really understanding that person goes a long way toward accurately conveying their language.  The challenging part about this is that you have to deduce all of that only having had a moment’s interaction with a person. You have to understand everything from the language to the culture from that small interaction, and it is absolutely essential that you do understand the culture to interpret effectively.

Most of your experience with this comes from the field.  Besides that, constant training is really the most effective method of preparation for becoming an interpreter, and even after you become an interpreter, it’s an ongoing process.  You’re always in a constant state of learning and training, which never really ends.  That is one of the things I love most about being an interpreter.  Language is one of the things where you can constantly get better at and learn things about, even in your native tongue.  It’s how you become a better interpreter.

Q: What are your long-term goals for working in interpretation?

A: Well first, I want to become medically certified.  There are great resources to get one started and completed with certifications.   I, after that, want to get legal certification, in order to diversify my experiences.  These are shorter term goals though. 

Eventually, I want to get involved in UN interpreting, but for now that’s further down the road.  UN Interpreting is a fairly specific niche, but it is top of the line. The hardest, most elite, and on point interpreting is done at the UN.  The interpretation which takes place there could literally start wars if not executed correctly. While the cases there may not always involve extremely delicate topics, the consistency and accuracy necessary remains the same. That’s what I want to push myself to do.

To me, interpretation is an ongoing process of self-improvement, and being able to diversify the work I do now and get more experience across different fields is just a step toward achieving my larger goals later on.

Q: What are some of the most valuable skills you have learned so far during your time with access?

A: Like I said, I studied specifically for this, to become an interpreter.  But even after that, there is a jump from being fluent in a language, to using it for interpretation.  There is a major shift toward being accurate in the time frame given.  That’s something you can only practice and get better at in the field.  I, of course, was already fluent before starting with Access, but after starting, things just changed.  When I lived in Spain, people would talk to me in Spanish or English, and I would always just reply in Spanish by default.  Even then, since starting with Access, my comfort with the language has grown immensely.  

Q: Do you have any other final commentary you would like to share?

A: I just want to say, I’m enthusiastic about interpreting.  Even if I work all day and all night, I would never say “I hate my job”.  I would say that interpreting is easy, but hard.  I get paid to talk to people.  It’s awesome!  I love to talk to people.  As an interpreter, you have to be on top of it all the time.  It’s tough.  There can be no hesitation.  But this is what I love to do.  Although you can’t get very personal with people, I get the opportunity to meet people all the time with different experiences.  Being able to touch different cultures, it’s one of the best things about interpreting.

Christopher isn’t joking about working all day and all night either!  He is one of our most active interpreters, and often volunteers to take emergency assignments overnight and during the weekends.  Working as a freelance contractor gives our interpreters the flexibility to work as much or little as they want.  If you are inspired by Christopher’s story, and are interested in joining our team of interpreters, please head over to our “Interpreter Application” page and submit the form so we can get you in to the office for an interview session!