Meet Anna, our February interpreter of the month
Every month we celebrate the hard work and achievements of one of our amazing interpreters. This month’s winner is Anna, one of our newest interpreters. It was great to meet Anna and talk about how she became an interpreter, the value of professional training, and the challenges of remote interpreting. Read on for the full conversation…
Before I became an interpreter I was a teacher for over 15 years. I taught Mandarin Chinese in international schools, in both Hong Kong and Mainland China. When I had my triplet boys I stopped working as a teacher and eventually moved back to the UK. I had lived in Hong Kong for 11 years, and then spent a few years in Singapore, but in 2015, I returned to the UK with my husband and my children. We met in China, what seems like a long time ago now, but he is originally from the England.
Looking for work here I found that there is not as much demand for Mandarin teachers so one of my friends suggested that I could become an interpreter. I thought this seemed a good idea and so I started interpreting in the autumn of 2018.
The Value of Professional Training
I undertook the Level 3 Community Interpreting course which I completed in May 2019. However, I also wanted to be able to interpret for the police, courts, and immigration services so I started another course – preparation for the DPSI – which I finished in 2020. I then did my Level 6 Diploma in Community Interpreting which I completed last July.
Studying interpreting made me realise that I always want to know more. I enjoyed the courses and they showed me more depth to interpreting. Before I started the courses I thought of interpreting as simply transferring one language to another, but through the courses I realised that you need a lot of knowledge, background, topic specific terminology and an understanding of the subject area.
Challenges of Remote Interpreting
The pandemic has definitely changed how I work. Before COVID I only did face-to-face interpreting but since the first lockdown I had done more and more video or telephone interpreting. The balance has completely shifted. Around 70% of my interpreting is now remote, with 30% in person. There are some additional challenges that telephone interpreting presents: You can’t see who is talking so it can be more difficult to know who is going to speak next. You cannot pick up physical cues and it is not easy to indicate to the speaker that you would like to begin interpreting what they have already said. These are differences from face-to-face interpreting, and add a bit of a learning curve, but they are overcome with practice.
A Rewarding Job
I like the challenge and the variety that interpreting presents every day. I don’t know exactly what will come up. Whether that is interpreting for medical appointments, social workers, mental health therapy, I will always find something new. I learn new terminology, new vocabulary, meet different people. I get to help people a lot, which I appreciate. When I do mental health interpreting, for example, it is very rewarding to see how much improvement they experience over the course of the sessions. It is nice to know you are helping people.