The French Translation and Interpretation Program welcomes students into a tight-knit global community of practicing translators and interpreters, grooming them for all facets of professional work.
Intensive mentoring is a natural component of our small programs, made possible by the fact that the French T&I faculty are themselves active practitioners who bring a broad range of experience to their teaching. For example, one interpretation professor has worked and lived in Africa in the UN system, another has dedicated most of her career to European issues as an EU staff interpreter, another travels through the United States and Africa interpreting for anti-terrorism trainings, while yet another has developed particular expertise interpreting court proceedings. With proximity to the Silicon Valley, several professors also have extensive experience interpreting at conferences and corporate seminars related to advanced technologies.
Graduates go on to work for a wide range of international organizations, from the UN and EU to the African Union, World Intellectual Property Organization and WHO. Others work at government entities like consulates and the US Department of State, global companies such as Google and Cisco, language services companies, or NGOs like the micro-finance provider Kiva. Some secure staff positions, others thrive as freelancers.
French T&I courses interweave theory and skills building with content that deliberately covers different geographical regions, topics, and text types. We work on issues pertaining not only to France, but the whole French-speaking world, including Francophone Africa, Quebec and Haiti. A translation class might tackle a report on the crisis in Northern Mali, while an interpretation class might analyze a speech by the president of the Democratic Republic of Congo, or work with a virtual tour of the neurology center at a hospital in Montreal.
Each semester, courses share common themes so that students can leverage learning across the curriculum. Topics are representative of work in the field: legal, information technology, medical (with a focus on AIDS, malaria and other issues impacting the developing world), engineering, biotechnology (with a focus on agriculture, again because of Francophone Africa). Students are then able to make enlightened choices about the fields in which they will specialize.
Lastly, we incorporate as much authentic practice as possible into coursework so that students learn what to expect and how to behave and communicate with their future clients.
Translation assignments often simulate professional work performed by professors and sometimes consist of actual pro bono jobs for real clients. Interpretation classes include multilingual mock meetings as well as interpreting guest lectures and tours such as at the local hospital, a chocolate factory, and the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
Learn more about internships and careers that our students pursue.
As translators, the French T&I faculty collectively translate hundreds of thousands of words per year—annual reports, websites, patents, contracts, corporate communications, scientific reports. They have the experience and know-how to guide students in intelligent use of computer assisted translation (CAT) tools to optimize quality while maximizing productivity and consistency.
Translation and interpretation, both consecutive and simultaneous, interpreting traumatic events, international aid and development, interpreting for the information technology field
Simultaneous and consecutive interpretation and translation of German, French, Spanish into English; interpreter pedagogy
Translation and simultaneous and consecutive interpretation of French and English
Featured Alum: Sarah Irene
Company: United Nations
Title: Conference Interpreter, Russian & French
During her first year at the Institute, Sarah Irene (MACI '10) decided that her goal was to one day work at the United Nations as a Conference Interpreter. Less than a year after graduating from MIIS, that dream became a reality.
"I am very happy," said Irene. "I have a sense of accomplishing what I set out to do and of course that is a great feeling."
Some of Irene's highlights of her time at the UN include interpreting for the president of Kazakhstan, being at the same meeting as French President Nicolas Sarkozy and having U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton listening to her interpretation.
Irene is grateful for the professors and the training that she received at the Institute. In fact, she says that without her time here, she wouldn't be where she is today.
"MIIS provided a very solid foundation in the technique of interpreting, both consecutive and simultaneous," said Irene. "It's a craft; it's not just listening and speaking at the same time.