Foreign Language Interpreter and Translator

Today it is common for people from different countries to work together. For example, a company from Japan may be working with a company in the United States to build a new car. But if the United States employees don’t speak Japanese, and the Japanese employees don’t speak English, they won’t be able to get much done! That’s where Interpreters and Translators can help!

Interpreters and Translators help people communicate in different languages. But while these jobs are very similar, there is also a big difference -- Interpreters work with spoken words while Translators work with written words. Let’s take a look at some examples.

Have you watched a news program and seen video footage of the President of the United States meeting with the head of a non-English speaking country, such as the President of France? If you look closely, you’ll see that someone else is helping the two leaders communicate! The statements made by the President of the United States are being repeated in French, and the statements made by the President of France are being repeated in English. Because this process involves spoken words, it is performed by an Interpreter. Interpreters often work in business and politics.

Translators’ work can be found in homes, stores, and banks, just to name a few. For example, manuals for products from answering machines to DVD players often include instructions in multiple languages. Have you seen other products or documents around you house that includes text in multiple languages? Check your shampoo bottle or read food packaging labels and you may be surprised to see how many foreign languages are included on items you use every day! Because all of these examples involve written words, it was performed by a Translator.

Translators may use special software to assist them in their work and often work for international organizations and government agencies. Translators have flexible work hours but often work under pressure to meet tight deadlines.

While being able to have a conversation in another language is a wonderful skill, having this ability doesn’t necessarily mean that the person would be a good Translator or Interpreter. Translators and Interpreters usually have master’s degrees (bachelor’s + 2) or doctoral degrees (master’s + 3 years) and study a certain language and subject which they are interested in. For example, one person may choose to focus on the translation of medical documents from English to Chinese, while another may choose to translate law documents from French to Arabic.

These careers require excellent communication and language skills.

Find Out More:

Learn more about what it’s like to be a Translator or Interpreter – Click the link below to read more about the skills required for this career and the activities they do every day. Click the “Career Video”, to watch Translators and Interpreters as they go about their daily work. This website is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor.

Learn a Foreign Language – If you are interested in this career path, you may want to take foreign language courses when they are offered at your school. Even if classes are not available to you right now, you can still make a point to become more aware about foreign languages in your daily life. You can translate words and phrases by using Google Translate or other free online tools.

Try to find something in your house that includes words in another language (such a bottle of shampoo or food packaging). Click the link below and type in the words you find into the box on the left. Or just type in any words you’d like to learn! Google Translate will try to detect the language if you are unsure what it is. Then, click the “To: …” button to choose a language to translate the words into. Finally, click the “Translate” button to see the translation appear and click the audio button to hear the words read back to you in your chosen language!