You don’t need to have already studied a language to choose one as your major. Nor do you need a reason.
I started my Bachelor of Arts with advanced Italian and French, and beginners Spanish and Chinese. During my first year, my Chinese teacher alerted me to a scholarship program that would give the recipient the opportunity to study at a Chinese university of their choice. I was awarded the scholarship and spent one year studying Chinese at Sichuan University. My time in China led me to a year in Spain, which turned into seven years, which then led to a Master’s in Specialised Translation, a traineeship at the European Commission, and finally to my current job as a translator for the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC).
Becoming a translator
I was introduced to translation through my cross-institutional Flinders University Italian course at the University of Adelaide. Flinders’ native Italian professors taught techniques that we used to translate literary excerpts, adverts, and even parts of the bible. Never ordinary nor boring, each class incited lively debates, both philosophical and linguistic. It gave me insight into how we communicate as people, and how our cultures affect our efforts. We learnt that sometimes the words in a source text are the least important of all.
After finishing my masters degree, I was contracted to translate technical texts from English to Spanish, which had become my strongest language. Looking for experience, I applied for the European Commission’s translation traineeship and moved to Brussels for what I thought would be a five-month training. Five months turned into ten months, and eight months after my traineeship ended, I started as a translator at the EESC, where I currently translate from Italian, French and Spanish. This month I started learning Bulgarian through work.
How my language studies have benefitted me
No matter your direction in life, knowing a foreign language will always be an asset. It can lead to study abroad which can count towards your degree in Australia. It can lead to international job opportunities or even government jobs. As someone who struggled with English through high school, foreign language learning made me a better English speaker and gave me the communication skills on which I rely not only in my professional life but also in my personal relationships.
Learning languages opened me to worlds I never knew existed – to new concepts and new emotions – because so many words simply don’t exist in English. Because no one language is a complete package encompassing all that exists or could exist. I chose to study languages without any idea of what I wanted to do with my life. It was the catalyst that drove me to become a translator – which I consider to be the best job in the world. To facilitate international communication through my work at an advisory body that helps guide the Commission, the Council and the Parliament in legislative matters is indescribably rewarding. I’ll always have a great appreciation for the language teachers who saw what could be and guided me here.
Author: Daniella Lanfranco