Ask any professional interpreter and they will tell you that simply knowing a language isn’t enough to make you an interpreter. For example, an interpreter needs to have other skills, such as note-taking abilities, a strong memory recall, and awareness and understanding of interpreter ethics, just to name a few.
However, the most important ability of an interpreter is their language proficiency. The inability to fully understand a language nullifies the goal of interpretation, which is to convert a message from one language into another. It seems silly, if not frightening, to think that someone who doesn’t understand a language can help another person who doesn’t understand it either. Thus, if an interpreter isn’t fluent in their working languages, how can they expect to successfully bridge a communication gap when they don’t even have the tools needed to build that bridge?
IEO now offers language proficiency tests to interpreters who need to assess their language skills for employment purposes, or who need to provide proof of their language proficiency before taking either the CCHI or NBCMI certification exams. Likewise, language proficiency tests are also available to employers who wish to vet the linguistic abilities of current or prospective employees.
More information on the tests can be found here.