If you are an interpreter and are reading this, I just want to tell you how much I appreciate you. I, myself have dabbled at interpreting. Though it was a nice experience, I never got the hang of it. First, you don't have any dictionaries you can consult while you work. Then, you have to keep up with so much information, and finally, you have to interact with all parties concerned, no matter how interesting, boring, tragic, or upsetting. In other words, it takes a linguistic mammoth to be an interpreter!
If you work with English, and it is not your native language, how do you keep it up?
What is your strategy to maintain and improve your English language skills? If you're at a loss, that's okay. I've written a few based on my own experience.
1. You want to speak more English, not just interpret it.
As complex as interpreting is, in the end, you are not speaking English entirely on your own. You are taking a message spoken in X language and rendering it into proper English. However, those weren't your own words (pun alert!); they were put into your mouth.
Your English should obviously be more complete than the sum of messages in a foreign language you have to translate into English.
A good tutor will help you develop your own ideas and thoughts in English.
2. You want to increase your job opportunities.
You could argue that it doesn’t matter what clothes you wear to an interpreting job, just as long as you can do your job well. However, we all know that this isn't true. People are going to judge you based on your appearances, and your English skills are definitely not exempt. You will work better and communicate better with your clients if your English is good, if not to say impressive. One other thing I've noticed is that pronunciation can make or break the impression you make on others. I find it unfair, as as long as you can make yourself understood, it should be fine. However, people are always going to judge you, and a good pronunciation coach can make you sound oh-so-proper.
3. You want to practice with a language expert.
It's true that you can pick up so much English by interacting with native speakers in an English-speaking country. The only thing is that you probably can't ask your client why they used the past continuous instead of the simple past in the sentence they just said. Even if they were consummate grammarians, I doubt they would want to share it with you in the middle of court or an important business meeting.
With a knowledgeable (and patient) tutor, you can make all the mistakes and ask all the questions you want to your heart's content. That way, when you step up to the plate, you're ready to go.
4. You want to reinforce a specialty or learn a new one.
If you are already a medical interpreter and you want to break into the legal translation market, a smart move would be to study up on the new field, either formally or on your own. Again, with a knowledgeable tutor who has set up a course especially for you based on your needs and goals. You can thus picture yourself soon rubbing elbows with attorneys, physicians, executives and whomever else fits in the picture.
5. You want the best match for you.
It used to be that when you wanted to learn a new language or anything else for that matter, you had to go to a physical location and had to settle for whomever the instructor was. Some were great, some were middling, and some were bad. With online courses, this never has to be the case ever again. Be selective and choose someone whom you like and who will take you far. You deserve it. Your career deserves it!
6. You want the best value for your money.
There are many more online English tutors out there than I can count. Each one has his or her own method and distinct advantages. I say, don't base your choice solely on price as you may be disappointed. It's a cliché: You get what you pay for; but it's true. Whatever price you decide to pay, look first and foremost for a definite plan that suits your needs. Do you want homework? Pronunciation? A written progress report? Don't be afraid to ask!
7. Your time is valuable.
If you study online, you don't have to leave your house and commute to an institute. On the other hand, if you own a laptop computer, you are entirely mobile and can learn wherever you may happen to be.
You can also study whenever your tutor is available. You are no longer dependent on a language institute's timetable.
If you're an interpreter and you're looking for an online English tutor, why not start with signing up for a free trial lesson today?