On parade

The University of Bath alumni blog

Topic: MA Interpreting & Translating

Working with languages in the football industry

📥  MA Interpreting & Translating

University of Bath Graduate Daniel Lane is a self-employed Interpreter and Translator in the football industry. Working with an agency, Daniel has contact with a variety of clubs and football institutions in Europe and around the World.
Daniel graduated from BA Modern Languages and European Studies in 2012 and went on to complete the Masters in Interpreting and Translating at Bath with Spanish and Italian. We asked Daniel about his career as a freelancer in the private sector.

Daniel Lane

Daniel Lane

Tell us about your work as a Freelance Interpreter and Translator

“The main body of my work is written translation for football clubs in Italy. This can include translating content for their website into English, press releases, match reports and minute-by-minute commentary for their Twitter and Facebook.

I also provide interpreting services for the same agency in England with football clubs in London. This can involve going to the training ground to assist a player who may have an internal media interview, or an interview with a newspaper, or Match of the Day or Sky Sports who want an on screen interview. I am there to help players who don’t speak the languages.

Alternatively I go to the stadium on match day, or to the charities and partners of these football clubs with players to help those who don’t speak English.”

Why did you specialise working in the football industry?

“I was aware that there was a market for language professionals with my combination in the industry. Coupled with the fact that I was unable to apply to any of the institutions due to my lack of French or German, it seemed the most logical, and interesting, route for me to pursue. I was already knowledgeable about football so it was a ready-made specialisation for my translation work”

How has your masters helped your career?

“My masters helped me to turn my existing language skills into professional language skills. It has taught me how my skills can be useful. The weight of the name has opened doors for me, almost like a stamp of authority, that I’ve had good training from the University of Bath. It’s definitely been invaluable.”

Would you recommend the MA Interpreting and Translating course? 

“If you want to be an interpreter or translator the course is definitely worth doing. Although perhaps more tailored towards a career in the European Union and the United Nations, a postgraduate degree gives you credibility.

The training is second to none in terms of giving you expertise. I would whole heartily recommend it.”


Bath graduate translates award-winning Syrian Journalist

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📥  International, MA Interpreting & Translating

Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp completed the MA Interpreting and Translating programme with German and Russian at the University of Bath in 2004. Soon after graduating, Ruth was employed as a linguist and researcher in the UK civil service where she added Arabic to the languages she translates from. She is the co-translator (from Arabic) of The Crossing: My journey to the shattered heart of Syria, an account of the ongoing war in Syria by exiled Syrian writer Samar Yazbek, 2012 winner of the International PEN Pinter International Writer of Courage prize.

The Crossing has been described as ‘one of the first political classics of the 21st century’ by The Observer. Author Samar Yazbek, spoke to the Guardian about her powerful and moving account of her devastated homeland. She tells how she risked her life to cross illegally back into Syria, and how she has been an eyewitness to the unfolding chaos and misery. Read the article here.

Ruth Ahmedzai

Ruth Ahmedzai

Ruth commented, “It was a very difficult book to work on: because of the time-sensitive topic - the worsening Syrian crisis - there was a very tight deadline, which was tough with such a complex, lyrical text. But above all, it was emotionally challenging: it is a book laden with heart-breaking scenes, with shocking brutality but also much poetic beauty.”

“It has been a privilege to contribute to British readers’ understanding of what is going on in Syria, and I am glad that Syrians are finally being given a voice internationally. The book has led to other opportunities to translate Samar’s writing, including a comment on the refugee crisis for the Guardian.”

Ruth has run a successful freelance business as a translator and editor since 2009, working mainly with commercial, government and NGO clients, but increasingly in publishing. She is also the translator (from Arabic) of The Bride of Amman, a novel by Fadi Zaghmout and a book she is promoting this autumn. Ruth has a number of possible books in the pipeline for the future, and she is currently translating an academic text (linguistics).

She explains, “One thing I love about translating is that I never know where the next contract might take me. I’d be very happy if the next book is non-fiction, particularly history or politics. I love not knowing what’s round the corner, but it’s reassuring to know that with three languages (Russian, German and Arabic) covering so many countries, and particularly as a translator of German, there is always plenty of well-paid commercial work to fall back on.”


Interpreting and translating alumni triumph at United Nations


📥  International, MA Interpreting & Translating

The United Nations interpreter examinations are renowned for being incredibly challenging, rigorous and highly competitive. They aim to single out the best in the interpreting world.

So when we heard that MA Interpreting and Translating alumni Katherine Nield and Jaya Mishra had passed the UN interpreting exams just two months after graduating, we were excited to share their success. Out of the 25 entrants (approx.) who sat the exam in Geneva in January, only four passed the challenging assessment.

This means that Katherine and Jaya can now interpret for the United Nations in Geneva on a freelance basis and have this prestigious accreditation to their names. We asked Katherine and Jaya about their experience, how they prepared for the exam and what advice they have for future Bath MA Interpreting and Translating alumni.

Katherine’s experience…

The main thing I did to prepare for the exam was to use the UN webcast to stream speeches for practice. It has quite an extensive archive of speeches and you can filter them by language, country, meeting etc. As the UN test is a lot longer than the Bath exams, I made sure I built up my stamina, so I could manage three ten-minute speeches per language. I also tried to read up on some general background about the UN in Geneva, so I could recognise the titles of committees and treaty bodies.

The exam was obviously very nerve-wracking as there was a panel of five people listening and making notes on what you say. However, it was good to have an ‘audience’ and a live speaker as opposed to listening to a recording and being recorded, as it makes the experience more realistic. Everyone was very encouraging and supportive throughout.

It means a huge amount to pass the exam! I have always been really keen on becoming an interpreter so it’s great to have the accreditation and be able to work for the UN on a freelance basis. I’m now looking to gain as much experience as possible on the freelance market.

Katherine Nield

Katherine Nield

Katherine’s advice…

If you think you’ve made a mistake or missed something, don’t dwell on it and keep going! I certainly didn’t do a flawless job and they don’t expect you to be perfect.

The MA Interpreting and Translation programme at Bath was excellent preparation, not only the programme itself, but also because I had the opportunity to go on placement to the UN. This meant I had more of an idea what interpreting at this type of organisation looks like, and it confirmed for me that this was really what I wanted to do.

Katherine Nield (MA Interpreting and Translating 2014, French and Russian)

Jaya’s experience…

To prepare for the exam, I practised as much as possible by using the UN webcast and Treaty Bodies website which broadcast live meetings and speeches. I would try to use these web resources for at least an hour every day in the run up to the exams. I also ‘dummy boothed’ for two weeks at the UN in Geneva which was invaluable because, not only did I get two weeks of exposure to the kind of speeches I could expect in the exam, but many staff interpreters were at hand to listen and offer advice.

Sitting the exam was obviously a very daunting experience. The most important thing is not to view your nerves as something that set you back, but to use them to your advantage as a form of adrenaline.

The exam was split over two days. If you did not pass the French on the first day, you were not asked to take the Russian exams the day after. On both days, there were three ten-minute speeches per language. There were roughly three to five people on the panel listening to my interpretation and one live speaker delivering the speech. Given how nerve-wracking the experience is, I felt that all the members of the panel understood this and tried their best not to add any extra pressure – their smiles and nods of the head were all very welcome to me!

After being informed that I had passed, I felt a mixture of elation, pride and relief. I had never let my expectations get too high because I was always aware of just how competitive the tests were and how it is very common for people to fail the first time they take them.

I now hope to establish myself as a freelance interpreter in Geneva. It is important to remember that passing the exam is by no means a direct or immediate entry into a career as a UN interpreter. A lot more hard work is required to show that I am capable of interpreting at the highest level.

Jaya Mishra

Jaya Mishra

Jaya’s advice...

The most useful piece of advice for me was to breathe! Taking deep breaths is so important in calming your nerves and clearing your mind.

Without the programme at Bath it would have been virtually impossible for me to pass the exam. Prior to enrolling on MA Interpreting and Translating I had no experience whatsoever of interpreting. I simply thought that it would be a good way for me to use my languages. I did not know how challenging and rewarding a career it could be so I shall be forever grateful to Bath and, in particular, Elena Kidd for running such a fantastic programme.

Jaya Mishra (MA Interpreting and Translating 2014, French and Russian)

You can also read ‘How to become a UN Interpreter,’ written by Bath alumna Helen Reynolds-Brown on behalf of the Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/education/2014/may/15/russian-french-un-interpreter

Written by Louise Andrews, Marketing Officer, Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences