Review of MA in Conference Interpreting at London Metropolitan University

What made you choose London Met?

I studied a BA in Translation and Interpreting in Spain and I loved interpreting. However, after university, I got a full-time job and never worked as an interpreter. A few years later I still wanted to give it a go and become a professional interpreter so I decided to move to the UK to brush up on my English. I worked in PR for two years and then I started looking for MAs in Conference Interpreting. I was already living in London and the MA at London Metropolitan University offered the possibility to work into your B language, which caught my attention. Not all MAs offer this option and I thought working into a B language would be crucial for the private market.

London Met also works closely with international organisations such as the UN and the EU. The university has a Memorandum of Understanding with the United Nations on cooperation in training candidates (for competitive language examinations). This means that leading UN interpreters visit London Met and provide training and lectures to students. They also select some students for training visits at the UN headquarters. London Met also belongs to the network of universities that work with the Directorate-General for Interpretation of the European Commission that provides training assistance and study visits to EU institutions.

Do you get to do much practical work or an industry placement on the course?

There is theory and practice on the course, but most of the work is practical. There are regular mock conferences on international trending topics, such as immigration or recycling, and tutorials for every language combination for both consecutive and simultaneous interpreting. There is a focus on current affairs and public speaking skills too.

During the second semester, students are in charge of organising the mock conferences themselves, from contacting speakers and asking them to give speeches, to dealing with the technical aspects of the equipment. I thought this was an excellent way of learning about conference management and all the aspects it entails, which could be helpful in the future for those interested in becoming consultant interpreters.

Another aspect of the course I would like to mention is collaborative learning. From the start, students are strongly encouraged to collaborate with each other. I was a bit reluctant in the beginning, but I soon learnt the benefits of this approach and just how much you can learn from colleagues. It is also a way of optimising your working time and helping you get to grips with new tools and digital platforms. Although it is often seen as a solitary job, interpreters don’t work in isolation and need to be team players too!

Students at London Met are offered plenty of placement opportunities in London and abroad. I was lucky to be selected for study visits to the EU in Brussels and the UN in Geneva, two exciting and incredibly valuable experiences. Later, I also did a week of dummy booth practice at the International Maritime Organization, a specialised UN agency whose HQ is in London.

Besides international organisations, there are also many other options like interpreting for charities, NGOs or shadowing professional interpreters at work. I was a volunteer interpreter for a week at the Caux Forum in Switzerland this summer and I have volunteered for Amnesty International as well. I would encourage students to do as many placements as possible!

What did you like best about your course?

If I had to choose a few highlights of this course, I would include: the possibility of doing dummy booth practice at international organisations, the consistent encouragement to have an online presence and gain visibility, and having virtual classes with other universities. I found virtual classes extremely useful. Students receive feedback from interpreter trainers from many different universities, which enables them to integrate a broader range of comments and advice in their practice. It is also nerve-wracking so it is the perfect opportunity to learn to cope with stress and to be exposed to an unfamiliar audience. These aspects are inherent in the interpreting profession so the sooner we get used to them the better.

If I were asked what could be changed to improve the course in the future, I would personally suggest having more tutorial hours. I wish I had had more hours of practice with tutors. Nevertheless, l think this is a fantastic course overall!

My advice to future students would be to make the most of their training experience. I cannot stress enough how important it is to use all the resources available to them at London Met.

Teresa López González holds a BA in Translation and Interpreting from Universidad Pontificia de Comillas (Madrid) and an MA in Conference Interpreting from London Metropolitan University. 

Her working languages are Spanish as her native language with a retour in English and French as a C. She is based in London and currently works as a freelance interpreter and translator. She also holds a DPSI and she is a sworn translator (English-Spanish) specialised in legal translation.

For more information about Teresa and her services, please see her LinkedIn profile and follow her on Twitter.

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