1. Description

From courtrooms to boardrooms, interpreters help people who speak different languages understand each other. They work in a range of situations, from business meetings to criminal trials to medical emergencies. Those who know American Sign Language interpret spoken language to sign language and vice versa. Since interpreters work on the spot and can’t go back to correct any mistakes they make, they need intense concentration.

Interpreters help individuals or groups communicate with each other by orally translating from one language to another.

Did You Know?

Not every language that interpreters translate is “foreign.” Some interpreters translate Native American languages such as Navajo into English, or vice versa.

Are You Ready To...?

  • Interpret testimony from a witness to a crime
  • Listen through headphones to a speech and translate it at the same time
  • Interpret a doctor’s diagnosis for a patient
  • Translate a poetry reading in front of an audience
  • Possibly work as a contractor, one project at a time, and not as a full-time employee

It Helps To Be...

Able to concentrate and tune out distractions, since you will be working “live” in places like busy courtrooms or hospitals.

Make High School Count

  • Read a wide range of books in your second language to increase your fluency.
  • Volunteer at your local community center to help teach non-native speakers English or peer tutor fellow students for whom English is a second language.
  • Spend a summer or even a year in another country and learn how to speak the language.
  • Pay attention in all of your classes. You’ll need a large vocabulary for the wide variety of topics you’ll encounter while interpreting.
  • Sign up for advanced foreign language classes.

Did You Know?

Interpreters either interpret after someone has finished speaking, known as consecutive interpretation, or they interpret as someone is speaking, known as simultaneous interpretation.