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This Question Was Asked: “How could a foreigner become an interpreter in Korea?”

Okay, to begin with, you have to know the Korean language well. I would suggest you begin by attending one of the big language schools either at Seoul National University or at Yonsei University. If you already have a degree, when you get to the very last level, you will become a Korean teacher at Seoul National University. After that, you can get on Craig’s List or somewhere like that and look for job opportunities.

If you want to become an interpreter between Korean and English, first, you are going to have to get the proper education. Photo by Ekrulila on Pexels.com

I have a friend from Bangladesh who happens to be an interpreter in S. Korea. He began by attending the language school at Yonsei University. When his Korean language was high enough, he entered Korea Christian University as an English major. You have to have a level 3 on the TOPIK (Test of proficiency in Korean) put out by the Korean government to enter that university. After he initially got in, his Korean kept growing along with his English, and he ended up a level six in Korean with a degree in English. Unfortunately, KCU is slowly shutting down its English program, so you might have to choose another university to get an English major from. After he got his English major, he applied into the masters Theology program at KCU where they study all in English. He got English and Bible that way. He wrote a huge thesis in English.

It helps to get good experience too. Photo by fauxels on Pexels.com

While he was doing all that studying, he worked a lot of odd jobs where he was a public speaker both in Korean and English. He also worked for an international Korean company writing emails in English and making phone calls in English for them. It was a student’s job, and there were other students from other countries who worked there too making phone calls and writing emails in other languages like Japanese. He became very proficient in both English and Korean. After his good experience and graduate school, he applied at one of the big international companies for a good interpreter’s job, and he got it. He is now working for the big company functioning completely in English and Korean.

You have to be someone who can endure an enormous amount of studying. Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

It takes an enormous amount of study if you want to become an interpreter in S. Korea, but it is possible. If you are reading this email, that means that you already speak English which means you are further ahead than the guy I just told you about. He was an extremely good student, and it paid off. Any time you want to learn a foreign language, you just have to get ready to become an extremely good student.

First, you have to learn about 800 words to begin speaking. You also have to learn some grammar. If you don’t know grammar in English, it would be extremely helpful to study grammar in English before you tackle a foreign language. When I was in high school, they told me that if we weren’t good at English grammar, they didn’t recommend the foreign language classes to us. I happened to get higher grades than everyone in English, and when they began discussing grammar in my Spanish class, it was no problem, and I got the highest grade as well as the award in Spanish just like I did in English. God blessed me. However, you can always go get an English grammar book and brush up before you begin studying so you can understand what they are talking about when they begin teaching you grammar in Korean.

Learning Korean is not like learning Spanish for native speakers of English. When we learn Spanish, we have a head start because the word order is similar and there are many, many similar words. You don’t have those advantages in Korean. In Korean, the word order is completely different, and the root words are too. That means it takes more study than a language like Spanish. They also have concepts for grammar in Korean we don’t have in English. It is important to them that you use the right level of speech, but we have nothing like that in English, so you have to learn it as you go. They also have grammatical concepts we don’t have in English. Lucky for the guy I described above, his first language, Bangla, had the same gramatical concepts as Korean. As a native speaker of English, you have one useful language, English. Next, you have to learn the grammatical concepts in Korean to be able to do anything with it.

If you are interested in becoming an interpreter or a translator in Korea, I hope you have the stamina to stick it out. It will take a lot of studying. Not many non-Koreans can get far enough in Korean to be able to do it. You will have to become a real student and never get tired of studying if you want to do it. It is not impossible, but it will take a lot, much more than if you chose another language like Spanish, Italian, German, Romanian, or French. If you are an American and go this route, there are wonderful D.O.D. jobs open to American who are fluent in Korean. They are extremely high paying jobs. Just get on the D. O. D. website and check them out. They are worth going for if you have the stamina. One of the requirements is that you not only have a degree in the English language, but also that you have worked in an office where they use the Korean language.

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