Skip to main content

Stepping into the interpreting profession can be as thrilling as it is daunting. As aspiring interpreters prepare to bridge languages and cultures, they often face common challenges and fears. Understanding these challenges is the first step to overcoming them and thriving in this dynamic career.

Language Proficiency: Despite being bilingual, many beginners express fears regarding their language proficiency. Understanding dialects, idioms, and cultural references across multiple languages can be overwhelming. Moreover, if English is not the first language, apprehension may arise regarding comprehension of specialised terms. 

Cultural Understanding: Interpreting goes beyond the mere translation of words. It requires a deep understanding of cultural nuances to ensure accurate and respectful communication. The expectation to convey cultural subtleties accurately can intimidate beginners and yet it is crucial to understand when to intervene. Our Level 3 Community Interpreting Course can guide students an understanding the intricacies of cultural awareness and its application.

Lack of Specialised Knowledge: Often, interpreters find themselves working in specialised fields such as healthcare, legal, or technical industries. Beginners may find this prospect daunting, given the level of subject-specific knowledge required in all areas. Acquiring knowledge takes time. We recommend starting by creating a glossary for each setting to ensure you are using consistent and accurate information. This practice should be a part of any Community Interpreter training. Building a glossary for each setting, ensures consistent and accurate information to bolster interpreter’s confidence.

Ethics and Professionalism: Interpreters must adhere to a rigorous code of conduct that respects confidentiality, impartiality, and professionalism. Balancing these professional norms while managing linguistic responsibilities can pose a challenge. Rules help to protect us, they may act as a shield in certain settings and a reminder to set boundaries.

Mental Fatigue: The intense concentration required in interpreting can lead to mental fatigue. However, learning to be assertive and demand breaks at regular intervals can prevent burnout and maintain quality. Many beginners find this prospect daunting and may suffer as a result.

Memory Retention and Recall: Interpreters need to be able to remember and accurately reproduce long passages of speech. This fear of forgetting or misremembering details is a common concern amongst beginners. We recommend working on your listening skills daily in the first 2 years. With more knowledge and practice this skill will improve.

Our courses include techniques and exercises that enhance listening and recall skills, contributing to improved performance over time.

Impartiality: Maintaining neutrality in emotionally charged or sensitive situations can be difficult. Beginners may worry about their ability to not take sides or to deliver accurate interpretations despite potential discrimination. This topic is addressed in depth in our training in objectivity and emotional intelligence.

Confidentiality: Managing confidentiality, especially when privy to sensitive information, can be a stressor. There are very few situations where confidentiality may be breached, 3 in particular, such as in cases of child abuse or harm to oneself or harm to others. 

Fear of Making Mistakes: As with any new job, beginners may have a fear of making mistakes, especially given the potential serious consequences in interpreting. Everyone makes mistakes at some point, and the important aspect is learning how to correct them and grow from the experience, especially in a professional environment. Our supportive learning environment encourages students to learn from errors rather than fear them.

Career Uncertainty: The transition into self-employment can often bring uncertainty, particularly around finding work, building a client base, and managing administrative and financial aspects. As with any business it may take 2 years to get established. So, factor this in your plan when you start your journey to become an interpreter. In the level 3 Community Interpreting course, we have an entire module dedicated to setting up as a freelance interpreter to help our students feel confident as they start their interpreting career.

Navigating the challenges and fears of beginning a career in interpreting can be daunting. However, with appropriate training, these challenges can be turned into stepping stones for professional growth. At DPSI Online, we’re proud to support our students throughout their journey with our Level 3 Community Interpreting Course, providing the tools and knowledge they need to face these challenges head-on. 

Your interpreting journey starts here.