Any Conference Interpreting course (in NL/B) allowing Dutch as B language and English as A language?
מפרסם התגובה: Alexander C. Thomson

Alexander C. Thomson  Identity Verified
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Sep 24, 2012

Dear colleagues,

I’d be very grateful for career advice on the following, and above all to be corrected on any wrong assumptions I’m making.

I’m a freelance translator with successful informal interpreting experience; I’m British, have been resident in the Netherlands for three years now, am married to a Dutchwoman and we’re settled here for the foreseeable future. I’m considering making the switch to Conference Interpreting — specifically for the EU insti
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Dear colleagues,

I’d be very grateful for career advice on the following, and above all to be corrected on any wrong assumptions I’m making.

I’m a freelance translator with successful informal interpreting experience; I’m British, have been resident in the Netherlands for three years now, am married to a Dutchwoman and we’re settled here for the foreseeable future. I’m considering making the switch to Conference Interpreting — specifically for the EU institutions (because we live in Dordrecht, within commuting distance of Brussels by train).

I’m encouraged by what I see online (in ProZ forums, on the European institutions’ own sites, and elsewhere) about the pressing need for new people in the English booth, and particularly attracted by the freelance path. (I understand that I’d most realistically need to build up commercial Conference Interpreting experience first after graduating from an MA or Postgraduate Diploma before standing a good chance in the EU’s tests for freelance Conference Interpreters).

My initial conundrum, however, is this: my expectation would be to offer English as my A language, Dutch as my strongest B language and some (very) scarce European languages as B/C, as this would be what would interest me and also what the European institutions seem to be needing in the coming years. But the Dutch and Belgian MA courses that are specifically Conference Interpreting train students for quite the opposite: to have (obviously) Dutch as their A language and two of a handful of (very) major languages as their B/C languages.

On the other hand, none of the half-dozen serious Conference Interpreting MA courses at British universities (which of course train students to have English as their A language) lists Dutch among the B language options. It seems that English as A and Dutch plus something else as B/C was possible at Westminster but that excellent course was recently closed, to general consternation. Besides, I’m not keen on considering a British-based course because I’m settled in the Netherlands and hoping to be able to travel to university daily from Dordrecht, which in practice means a Dutch Randstad or a Flemish/Brussels university course.

I have a linguistic MA and I’ve worked in Dutch-speaking professional environments, so getting on such a course in the first place shouldn’t be a problem.

If anything came of these plans that I’m considering, I would hope in the fullness of time to offer the EU institutions (as a freelance Conference Interpreter into English) two other B/C languages from among the 23 (and shortly to grow!) official EU languages: ideally Irish and an Eastern European language or two Eastern European languages (I have good prior experience/training in Celtic and Slavic languages, so this isn’t a pipedream of starting from scratch). However, it seems that at this very early stage of considerations that that hope must be a (very) secondary consideration and that I must concentrate on finding what the best course (if any available!) concentrating on Dutch into English is that is within travelling distance of Dordrecht. I see that the Conference Interpreting MA course website at Ghent, at least, is written with the explicit expectation that non-native speakers of Dutch will also enrol, but even so, all the language pairs they offer for training have Dutch (of course) as the hub language, not English; that doesn’t seem to be what I need for the plans I’m considering.

If I understand right from some Internet trawling, such MA or Postgraduate Diploma courses typically last one year and charge very roughly in the region of €2,000 plus associated registration and exam fees and any extra module fees. I believe (or hope!) that it would be possible to fund that by continuing as a freelance translator, as at present, while studying. If I’m wrong about the real burden of total studying costs by an order of magnitude or so, I hope to be disabused of that notion quickly before I make any related assumptions.

Possibly ISIT in Paris is a superb and flexible enough course to accommodate my language pairing wishes, and it is just about commutable from Dordrecht by Thalys from Rotterdam. It wouldn’t be cheap, though — the swanky train or the swanky course!

Perhaps there is a way to avoid these issues by starting out commercially as a Conference Interpreter without having done a course, but I doubt that people would take me seriously that way.

Many thanks in advance for your time reading this and for any steer you can give me on the above,
Alex.

[Edited at 2012-09-24 02:42 GMT]

[Edited at 2012-09-24 04:31 GMT]
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Tatty  Identity Verified
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French or German Sep 24, 2012

Hello there,

At the moment, to try out for English booth you need to have either French or German. The EU is not really interested in B languages as it prefers natives with a whole bunch of C languages. Irish is pretty much covered, so I understand. These MA courses are never perfect, you just have to make the most of them. You get access to the EU speech database, but there are only a few Dutch speeches. Ghent sounds like your best bet but you will have to see if they can accommoda
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Hello there,

At the moment, to try out for English booth you need to have either French or German. The EU is not really interested in B languages as it prefers natives with a whole bunch of C languages. Irish is pretty much covered, so I understand. These MA courses are never perfect, you just have to make the most of them. You get access to the EU speech database, but there are only a few Dutch speeches. Ghent sounds like your best bet but you will have to see if they can accommodate your C language.
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Alexander C. Thomson  Identity Verified
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Thanks Sep 24, 2012

That’s some nice, prompt advice, especially that the EU wants several C languages more than a given B language. You’ve helped me to see the course in perspective, too, and not to imagine that it all depends on getting the choice perfect.

So in my case, I suppose I should be aiming to offer German as my B and something that Ghent accommodates as (at least in the first instance) my C, such as Russian (for which I see there is some need at the EU).


 

Déesse
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Hogeschool Gent Sep 24, 2012

Hi Alexander,

I teach simultaneous interpreting from Spanish into Dutch in Ghent. As Tatty says, B languages aren't that important for the EU. Also, you will need more than one source language for you to work for the EU. You could however enroll in the Dutch > English courses in Ghent to see if you like it and if . For the main student, this would be a retour, but for you, it would be from C (or B) to A.

If you want to, I can get you in touch with our coordinator, who
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Hi Alexander,

I teach simultaneous interpreting from Spanish into Dutch in Ghent. As Tatty says, B languages aren't that important for the EU. Also, you will need more than one source language for you to work for the EU. You could however enroll in the Dutch > English courses in Ghent to see if you like it and if . For the main student, this would be a retour, but for you, it would be from C (or B) to A.

If you want to, I can get you in touch with our coordinator, who can tell you more about all the possibilities we offer.

Regards,

Sébastien.

[Bijgewerkt op 2012-09-24 14:29 GMT]
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Alexander C. Thomson  Identity Verified
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Thanks, Sébastien Sep 24, 2012

Good to hear from someone teaching at Ghent. I hadn't thought so much about doing it language by language to see if it suits. That would be quite a good idea to explore. Please do ask the coordinator to get in touch — I'd appreciate that. I'll send you my e-mail by private message.

Regards,
Alex.


 


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