There is currently a shortage of native English interpreters and translators at European institutions. This also applies outside the Institutions, judging by the difficulties my translation project management colleagues regularly have sourcing good “… into English” translators (and, therefore, native speakers, as all our translators work only into their mother tongue).

Foreign languages in the UK are sadly not top of the educational agenda and the doors languages open are perhaps not very well known. I would like to use this blog to give you a few ideas.

Have you ever thought of becoming a linguist? What does being a linguist mean? My job at BLS has evolved. Originally my duties involved English to French translation, French proofreading and teaching French; in addition to these I am now also involved in promoting language training, marketing in the UK and abroad (I had the opportunity to go to Brussels twice in the last two years!), and website development. Advice and consultancy on international strategies also fall under my remit, as well as the occasional management of translation projects although my other colleagues specialise in that.

When asked what my job is, for example on a form or for any administrative purpose, I often find myself answering ‘Linguist’. This reply, in turn, triggers interest, amusement, shock or a blank face: “You what??” But hey! I can live with this and explain if the person is genuinely interested.

As a linguist, you could work in any combination of the following sectors: language teaching, translation (rarely in-house, mostly freelance), proofreading and review, bilingual and trilingual secretarial work, project management, voice-overs, educational publishing, export jobs, cultural awareness and consulting.

What does it take to become a proficient linguist? I would say you need to be interested in others and in different cultures. Both a logical mind (the grammar!) and a good memory (the vocabulary!) help. I am not going to define bilingualism here but in order to have an excellent command of any language you have to be willing to embark on a lifelong learning journey and to be curious about the written and spoken word.

Throughout your studies I would also recommend that you gather as much work experience as possible, both professionally (working in a company specialised in what you are interested in) and culturally (living a minimum of 6 months abroad). It will enhance your CV hugely! You will also most likely have to study on a post-graduate course. Here are a few ideas:

If you are already an experienced linguist, and interested in working with BLS, please send us your CV via our contact us form or give us a call on 02920 667666. We would love to hear from you.

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