I´ve worked as a translator several times in my life, usually just translating documents from English into Spanish and vice versa. And my greatest fear has always been the hugeness of the English language.

Counting just all the English phrasal verbs plus the idioms,  the language can easily be considered to have the biggest vocabulary.  However,  thanks to technology – our jobs as translators  have several technical aids like dictionaries and professional software to help us find the correct and most appropriate meaning depending on context.On the other hand, an interpreter must rely almost  entirely on  his/her memory which is why I’ve always respected interpreters. To interpret accurately – it requires a nimble mind with the ability to quickly dive in the search for the most accurate word or expression in the opposite language, while trying to preserve the meaning at all costs, and did I mention – at an almost simultaneous pace! It seemed an almost impossible task. But, just after starting my training to become a court interpreter with  DE LA MORA’s school,  I realized it is in fact not impossible at all.

That’s ultimately what this blog is really about. My experience and the journey towards becoming a certified interpreter. I’ll be posting once a month to give you some insight into the lessons that have resonated with me, and as well as using this as a very public way to keep me accountable. Which by the way- it’s one of Agustin’s  favorite words: Accountability.

So here is a snippet of what I’ve gathered so far while taking the English Written Prep Online:

I liked that the class introduced me to the courtroom in terms of characters and locations. Agustin specifically mentions a ‘play’ and continues his metaphor of theater as a playful way to visually invite you in to become familiar with the otherwise unnerving seriousness that is a court of law. This simple approach makes a great difference because once you know the titles of the people  you´ll be surrounded by when acting (no pun intended)  as the court interpreter, as well as what their roles (again, no pun intended) – you´ll start to feel more confident and prepared.

The training also offered a summarized and precise selection of basic words you might need in court, as well as their synonyms and antonyms. This also makes a big difference since it´s always an advantage when some else has already done the ‘homework’ and really looked  into the judicial lingo  that is most necessary as a novice court interpreter. Words you’ll need to memorize and keep on the tip of your tongue when interpreting in court. The more you understand the way court works in real life and the more you gain vocabulary, the more confident (there is that word again- but confidence really is key ) you´ll feel. Also, learning all the proper lingo will start to challenge your brain in both your native language and your second language by forcing you to start finding more words or expressions that can accommodate different situations.

It is awesome to have so many technical tools for translating purposes nowadays, but it also feels good to re-learn how to rely in your own memory and provide a suitable interpretation in the right moment.

By next month I will have started the live online training and naturally I plan on sharing with you the growing pains of becoming a court interpreter. But until then- I’ll stay inspired by watching all the CSI episodes…

María Ximena Pineda

Colombian writer, journalist and screenwriter. Has written for television and collaborated with different newspapers and magazines.