A practical guide for applicants
Any and all official correspondence addressed to the committee (i.e. application for admission and/or change in language classification, change of membership status, extension of pre-candidate status, challenges, requests for information, etc.) addressed to the Committee on Admissions and Language Classification (CACL) is to be sent to the AIIC Secretariat which will then forward it to the members of the Committee.
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Navigating through the AIIC admissions requirements is not always easy. The purpose of this guide is to help you understand the system and fill in the application form easily and correctly.
Documents needed to apply and useful references
Code of Ethics
Regulation Governing Admissions and Language Classification
CACL, Committee on Admissions and Language Classification
AIIC's language classification system
- Application for candidature
- Application for pre-candidature
- Application for Language Reclassification
This Guide is broken down into two sections: 1) a checklist, for those already familiar with entrance or reclassification requirements and 2) a detailed guide, for those seeking further clarification.
AIIC does not consider the admissions process to be a "test" or membership to be a "certification" in the strict sense of the word. The association does, however, maintain the goal of admitting only competent professional interpreters. By requiring a minimum number of days worked, without exception*, under professional conditions, AIIC effectively asks applicants to pass the "test" of the workplace.
By requiring sponsorship by members who have worked with and listened to an applicant, AIIC again puts the emphasis on performance in real conference interpreting settings. Sponsorship must not be taken lightly. A member who agrees to sign for an applicant is vouching both for the individual's professional competence and for his or her undertaking to abide by the accepted professional ethics. A potential sponsor, therefore, might very well be interested in talking at length with the applicant and providing information on the profession and the association. Furthermore, by applying to AIIC, the applicant is undertaking a commitment to abide by the Code of Ethics and all other rules and regulations .
* "without exception" means that at least from the moment an applicant decides to join aiic, he or she must always work according to AIIC's Code of Ethics, Professional Standards and all other rules and regulations.
1. Application Checklist - If you are already familiar with the application procedure, this simple checklist may be all you need
Read the instructions on the application form carefully. CACL (firstname.lastname@example.org) is there to help if you need assistance.
Refer to the Regulation on Admissions and Language Classification for further clarification.
Fill in all sections of the form and write the name of your languages in full or use the 3-letter ISO 639 code. Ensure that sponsors fill in all the language pairs they are sponsoring, give details of the last meeting when they worked with you and sign and date both the form and the checklist for sponsors.
Provide a list of your days worked. The list should be in chronological order and must include every day you worked as a conference interpreter for the period covered by the list. And remember: we count days, not hours or half-days. A 2-hour press conference, for instance, counts as one of your 150 days. If you work for a large institution as a free-lance or staff interpreter, you may attach a certificate from that institution. It should include the period of time covered, the number of days worked, your language combination and, where appropriate, when you added new languages to your combination. You should also provide a list of those days worked outside the institution during the period under consideration.
You may fax or email your application to the AIIC Secretariat if you wish, but you must also send all documents by regular mail.
Make sure you fulfill the following requirements:
- At least 150 days of work, without exception, according to AIIC's Code of Ethics, Professional Standards and all other rules and regulations;
- At least 50 days of work in each language pair you are applying for;
- At least 3 sponsors, including 2 from your region
- who have listened to you and have worked with you at a meeting no more than three years prior to the date at which they signed your application;
- who have signed your application form no more than three years prior to the date at which the AIIC Secretariat receives your application;
- who are active members of AIIC;
- who have 5 years' seniority in the languages they are sponsoring;
- who cover at least one language pair.
Minimum Requirements for Language Coverage
- Each A language to be covered by at least 2 sponsors with an A in the applicant's A language;
- Each B language to be covered by at least 1 sponsor with an A and 1 with an A or B in the applicant's B language;
- Each C language to be covered by at least 2 sponsors with an A, B or C in the applicant's C language. Each sponsor for a C language must also have an A in the applicant's A language. One of your sponsors for a C language could have a C in your A language provided he/she has an A in your C language. This does not require a waiver.
- You need 2 sponsors for every language pair.
- At least 50 days of work with your new language pair;
- At least 2 sponsors for each new language pair who fulfill the criteria outlined under "Admissions" above (there is no regional requirement for reclassifications);
- At least 5 A sponsors for a new A language. You must also explain in detail why you are applying for a new A language.
If you find it impossible to fulfill one or more of the admission or reclassification requirements, send CACL a covering letter with your application, explaining your circumstances and requesting a waiver for one or more requirements.
2. Detailed Guide - For further information on each step of the application process
If you are less familiar with the entrance or reclassification requirements, please read on. The following guide goes through each section of the application form in detail. The explanations and examples provided should make it easier for you to understand AIIC's entrance requirements. Refer to Regulation on Admissions and Language Classification. Explore AIIC's Website to learn more about the association. Then start to tell members you know and have worked with that you are interested in joining AIIC. Ask them any questions you may have. With a few signatures, you'll be on your way.
I. Personal Details
After you have filled in your name and address in the first section of the form, you will be asked to indicate your status (free-lance or staff) and your professional address. Members of the Association shall declare a single professional address and any change in professional address shall not be permitted for a period of less than six months. Please refer to Article 1 of the Professional Standards for more information on professional addresses.
II. Language Classification
When applying to AIIC, an applicant requests a language combination according to the A - B - C system (see below). This classification is geared to interpretation and even a 'C' level is what the layperson would call fluent. Applicants may sometimes be surprised to hear potential sponsors advise them to request a 'B' rather than an 'A' or a 'C' rather than a 'B'. Remember that your classification is not set in stone and you can always upgrade it. It is common for members to reclassify and/or add languages as they acquire the requisite experience and expertise.
- A: The interpreter's native language (or another language strictly equivalent to a native language), into which the interpreter works generally in both modes of interpretation, simultaneous and consecutive. All members must have at least one 'A' language.
- B: A language other than the interpreter's native language, of which she or he has a perfect command and into which she or he works from one or more of her or his other languages. Some interpreters work into a 'B' language in only one of the two modes of interpretation.
- C: Languages, of which the interpreter has a complete understanding and from which she or he works.
You will therefore indicate which languages you work from and into, and ask for classifications A, B or C accordingly.
In general, sponsors must:
- be active members of the association (your sponsors must still be active members when the Secretariat receives your application);
- have at least 5 years' seniority in AIIC for each language pair they wish to sponsor;
- have worked with the applicant and listened to her or his work in the three years prior to signing the application form;
- certify that, to the best of their knowledge, the applicant has worked 150 days and observed AIIC's professional ethics throughout the period.
More specifically, the minimum sponsorship requirements for A, B and C languages are the following:
- A: at least 2 sponsors with an A in the same language.
- B: at least 1 sponsor with an A in the same language and 1 other sponsor with either an A or B in that language.
- C: at least 2 sponsors with an A, B or C in that language, and an A in the applicant's A language. As an alternative, one of the sponsors could have a C in the applicant's A language provided he/she has an A in the applicant's C language. This A-C, C-A combination is accepted by CACL for one of the two sponsors and does not require a waiver.
Remember: Sponsors cover language pairs and one sponsor may cover more than one pair, as you will see in the examples below. The applicant and the sponsors should assure that all relevant pairs are being signed for. Each language pair must be covered at least twice. For admissions, a minimum of three sponsors is required and two of the sponsors should have their professional address in the same AIIC region as the applicant. This regional requirement does not apply for members seeking to change their language classification. If you plan to ask a member to sponsor you, it is advisable to inform that member before the meeting where you will be working together. This way, your colleague will listen more attentively and can better assess the quality of your work. In an ideal world, a potential sponsor will want to work with you on more than one occasion so that he/she can experience you in several conference settings with different subject matters. He/she will be in a better position to judge not only your interpreting skills, but also your booth manners and how you interact with other colleagues and clients.
IV. Practical Examples
The following examples examine different types of language combinations and the sponsorship that would be required.
Applicant X: Two working languages: Norwegian A and English B. Language pairs:
ENG > NOR and NOR > ENG
Let's say the applicant finds the following sponsors:
Sponsor 1: NOR A, ENG B
Sponsor 2: NOR A, ENG B
Sponsor 3: ENG A, NOR C
For the ENG > NOR pair, the applicant will need to find 2 sponsors who have NOR A and ENG A, B or C (remember: sponsors always cover language pairs and not just a 'language').
For the NOR > ENG pair, the applicant will need 1 sponsor with ENG A and NOR A, B or C, and another sponsor with either ENG A or B and NOR A, B or C.
At first sight, this seems to add up to four sponsors. But remember what we said above - one person can cover more than one language pair.
Sponsors 1 and 2 cover the ENG > NOR language pair;
Sponsors 1, 2 and 3 cover the NOR > ENG pair.
Applicant Y: Three working languages: English A, French B and German C. Language pairs:
FRA > ENG, DEU > ENG, ENG > FRA and possibly DEU > FRA
This applicant has the following sponsors:
Sponsor 1: ENG A, FRA B, DEU C
Sponsor 2: ENG A, DEU B, FRA C
Sponsor 3: FRA A, ENG B
Sponsor 4: FRA A, DEU B
Sponsors 1 and 2 can cover the FRA > ENG pair;
Sponsors 1 and 2 can also cover the DEU > ENG pair;
Sponsors 1 and 3 can cover the ENG > FRA pair;
Sponsors 1 and 4 can cover the DEU > FRA pair. Please note that this is a C > B pair which some colleagues chose to work in. The sponsorship requirements are the same as for any other pair when the target language is a B: 2 sponsors, one must have an A in the target language and the 2nd sponsor must have an A or a B in the target language. Both sponsors also need to have an A, B or C in the source language.
Applicant Z: French A, English C, Spanish C, Russian C. Language pairs:
ENG > FRA, SPA > FRA, RUS > FRA
The sponsors have the following language combinations:
Sponsor 1: FRA A, ENG C, SPA C
Sponsor 2: FRA A, ENG C, RUS C
Sponsor 3: FRA A, RUS B, ENG C
Sponsor 4: FRA A, ENG C, SPA C
You will see that the applicant actually has more than the required number of sponsors for some languages, but that does not matter. It makes no difference if you have more sponsors as long as you have the required minimum of three for candidature, two for reclassification and two for every language pair.
Sponsors 1, 2, 3 and 4 can cover the ENG > FRA pair;
Sponsors 1 and 4 can cover the SPA > FRA pair;
Sponsors 2 and 3 can cover the RUS > FRA pair.
V. Documenting Days Worked
To satisfy the requirements regarding the number of days worked, conference interpreters wishing to join AIIC must have:
- worked a minimum of 150 days, without exception*, according to AIIC's rules;
- worked at least 50 days in each language pair.
* "without exception" means that at least from the moment an applicant decides to join AIIC, he or she must always work according to AIIC's Code of Ethics, Professional Standards and all other rules and regulations.
To document your days of work, you must fill in the chart in the Annex to the Application by indicating the number of days you worked in each language pair you are seeking to have recognized. This is to satisfy the 50-day requirement in each language pair. Note that if, on a given day, you have used more than just one language pair, that day may be counted for the respective language pairs in your combination.
You must list at least 150 days to satisfy the 150 days minimum total requirement.
Your list must include every day you worked as a conference interpreter for the period of time covered by the list. It should state the dates of the respective contracts as well as the title or subject matter of the meetings. Your list should be type-written, in chronological order, and you must add up the totals for all columns on your list. Your 150 days of work can be accumulated over a period of more than three years. You do not need to submit contracts with the list, but you should have them. In the event of an application being challenged on the basis that the applicant has not complied with our basic texts (Code of Ethics, Professional Standards, etc.), one of CACL's policies/prerogatives is to check whether the contracts that the applicant has listed are in accordance with the rules published on our website. If you have worked extensively for a major organization, you may either submit a list of meetings as described above or attach a certificate from that institution stating your language combination, the number of days worked and the period of time covered.
In exceptional circumstances, a waiver to one or more of the requirements can be granted. This would be the case if there are not enough AIIC members with the applicant's language combination (i.e. Vietnamese A & English B currently). It may also be the case if the applicant cannot find two members with the same languages in his region. The applicant has worked 150 days and probably knows some AIIC members but, to become a member, will have to ask for a waiver to the rules regarding sponsorship. An applicant needing to request a waiver to one or more rules should follow these guidelines:
- First, get any signatures you can in accordance with the rules. You may find enough and that is always preferable. Faxed and emailed signatures are acceptable provided hard copies follow by regular mail. Remember, waivers are an exception and not designed to make getting signatures more convenient.
- Members who do not strictly comply with the sponsorship criteria could nonetheless sign your application form. If necessary, they should send a cover letter justifying their sponsorship. This may be acceptable provided these members have worked with you and have the requisite language combination.
- You may add signatures from members who have taken relay from you and can attest to your quality.
- If you are having trouble even finding people who have taken relay from you, ask a colleague to at least listen to you - and sign stating that fact. For example, if you work between Chinese (A) and Japanese (B), you could ask a Japanese (A) colleague to listen to you into Japanese and sign for your B, and you could ask a Chinese (A) colleague without Japanese to listen to your output and vouch for your Chinese A. The important thing here is that colleagues hear you work - after all, the classification system is for interpreting skill.
- Attach a copy of any diploma or certificate you may have earned from an interpreter training program or school.
- If you are or have been on the staff of an organization, please indicate your years of service and attach a certificate from that organization confirming your working languages.
- In a cover letter explain that you are requesting one or more waivers and the reason(s) why. Clearly explain each waiver and the sponsorship you have (i.e. whatever you have obtained according to the above-mentioned suggestions).
To sum up, try to come as close as possible to the two basic requirements (3 sponsors minimum, 2 of whom must come from your region). If you need a waiver, be sure to ask for it in writing and explain the waiver(s) you need (i.e. waive five-year rule because one of my sponsors has been a member for less time and there are no other sponsors with the same language combination; waive the language combination rule because one of my sponsors only has one of my languages in his/her combination, etc.). Please note that all requests for waivers are decided on a case-by-case basis.
Should you need advice or information, the Committee on Admissions and Language Classification is always there to help. Please contact us through the AIIC Secretariat, email@example.com.