A few weeks ago I decided to fill out an online application (update-this is no longer available on their website) to be a consultant interpreter and translator for the Department of State. I mailed it thinking that I would never hear back and that I had just wasted a stamp.
Well, much to my surprise, I did hear back. I got a call from an interpreter who wanted to schedule a phone screening/small interpreting test for later on in the afternoon. It was consecutive interpreting and even though I was nervous and it was hard, I somehow managed to pass which meant that I received an invitation to go take the interpreting exam in DC, at my own expense.
The interpreting exam consists of two 10-15mn passages: one consecutive and one simultaneous. I will be working English-French, off of a DVD. After that, I have to take the “Americana” section of the exam which consists of US history, geography, economy etc. Finally they will ask me an “on-the-job” question: what would I do if…
In the meantime, I also found out that my application qualified me to take the French-English translation test. It will consist of three passages: one general, one business, administrative or legal, and one technical or scientific. I will have four hours to translate all three passages using paper dictionaries for reference but a computer to input my work.
I have no idea what to expect or how hard this will be as I have yet to speak with someone who has already taken it, so I’m studying and practicing as much as I can.
For the translation portion, I have been using this page a lot to practice. It contains articles in French that I can translate into English. Once I’m done I can just click on “English” to see what the official translation is, and compare.
For the interpreting portion, I have been using the Department of State’s you tube channel.
For the Americana potion of the test, they suggested I go through this website. Even though it’s for kids, it’s pretty good and covers the basics. Works for me!
I made myself a glossary (6 pages long!) and it covers a ton of NGO, economy, and governmental jargon. I also added a bunch of the most common false cognates from this handy UN page.
Wish me luck next Tuesday!