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An Insider’s View: Daily Life of a Nigerian Interpreter

Last Updated on September 2, 2023


Interpretation is an essential skill in an increasingly interconnected world. As different countries and cultures interact, effective communication becomes vital.

In this blog post, we will explore the daily experiences and responsibilities of a Nigerian interpreter.

This will provide insight into the unique challenges faced by interpreters in Nigeria’s multicultural society.

Throughout this blog post, we will delve into the intriguing aspects of an interpreter’s everyday life.

From the early mornings of preparation to the high-pressure moments of live interpretation, we will uncover the intricacies of this profession.

Additionally, we will discuss the crucial role interpreters play in ensuring accurate and smooth communication between multilingual individuals.

Their ability to convey not only the words but also the nuances of meaning is what makes them indispensable in today’s globalized world.

By shedding light on the experiences of a Nigerian interpreter, this blog post aims to highlight the importance and value of interpretation in fostering cross-cultural understanding and effective communication.

In the following sections, we will delve deeper into the various aspects of a Nigerian interpreter’s daily life, providing an insider’s perspective on this challenging yet rewarding career.

Join us on this journey to explore the world of interpretation from a unique Nigerian standpoint.

Understanding the role of an interpreter

Definition: Explain what an interpreter does and why their role is crucial

An interpreter is a professional who facilitates communication between individuals speaking different languages.

Their role is crucial because it bridges the language barrier and enables effective understanding and interaction.

Interpreters listen to a speaker and accurately convey their message in another language, ensuring clarity and precision.

They provide real-time translation, allowing parties to communicate without the need for both to understand each other’s languages.

Different types of interpretation: Discuss simultaneous, consecutive, and liaison interpretation

There are different types of interpretation, each serving specific purposes.

  1. Simultaneous interpretation: In this type, the interpreter translates the speaker’s words in real-time while the speaker continues talking. It is commonly used in conferences and large meetings.

  2. Consecutive interpretation: Here, the speaker makes a pause, and the interpreter then conveys the message in the target language. This method is often used in one-on-one interactions, interviews, or small group discussions.

  3. Liaison interpretation: This type involves interpreting in a more informal setting, such as during business negotiations or social events. The interpreter facilitates communication between a small group of people.

Skills required: Highlight the specific skills and qualifications needed to become an interpreter

Becoming a successful interpreter demands a range of skills and qualifications.

  1. Fluency in multiple languages: Interpreters must be highly proficient in at least two languages, including their native language and the language they interpret into.

  2. Excellent listening and comprehension skills: Interpreters must be able to understand complex ideas and express them accurately in another language.

  3. Cultural knowledge: A deep understanding of both the source and target cultures is essential to accurately convey the intended meaning in different contexts.

  4. Interpersonal and communication skills: Interpreters need to build rapport with clients, be adaptable, and maintain professionalism while effectively communicating the intended message.

  5. Continuous professional development: Staying updated with industry trends and improving language skills is crucial for interpreters to deliver high-quality services.

  6. Formal education and certifications: Many interpreters have formal education in languages or interpretation, along with certifications from recognized organizations or institutions.

In addition to these skills, interpreters must possess sound judgement, ethics, and the ability to work under pressure.

They must also maintain confidentiality and impartiality while performing their duties.

In short, interpreters play a crucial role in facilitating communication between individuals who speak different languages.

Their ability to accurately convey messages in real-time through various interpretation methods is vital for successful cross-cultural interactions.

Read: Opportunities and Challenges of Voice Acting in Nigeria

A day in the life of a Nigerian interpreter


A Nigerian interpreter has a demanding and diverse set of daily routines and responsibilities.

They are responsible for accurately interpreting languages in various venues and situations.

Morning routine

Preparing for a day of interpretation involves several tasks such as research on the subject matter,
reading relevant documents, and familiarizing oneself with the cultural background of the clients.

On-site assignments

Nigerian interpreters work in a wide range of venues and situations, including:

  1. Business meetings: They facilitate communication between individuals from different linguistic backgrounds.

  2. Government conferences: They interpret discussions and negotiations among political leaders.

  3. Medical facilities: They bridge the gap between doctors and patients who do not speak the same language.

Challenges faced

Interpreters may encounter various difficulties during their work, such as:

  1. Language barriers: Interpreters need to quickly translate and convey the intended meaning accurately.

  2. Technical terminology: Interpreters face the challenge of interpreting complex terms in specialized fields.

  3. Cultural nuances: Understanding and conveying cultural subtleties and context is crucial in interpretation.

Read: The Role of Technology in Translation in Nigeria

Skills and Qualities of a Successful Nigerian Interpreter

Language Proficiency: Importance of Being Fluent in Multiple Languages

  1. Fluency in multiple languages is crucial for Nigerian interpreters to effectively bridge communication gaps.

  2. It allows them to accurately convey messages, ensuring that nothing gets lost in translation.

  3. Being proficient in multiple languages also expands their job opportunities and widens their client base.

  4. Language proficiency helps interpreters build trust and credibility with their clients, enhancing their professional reputation.

Interpersonal Skills: Ability to Build Rapport and Remain Neutral in Sensitive Situations

  1. Interpreters need excellent interpersonal skills to establish rapport with clients and create a comfortable atmosphere.

  2. Building trust is essential as it encourages open communication, making the interpretation process smoother.

  3. Remaining neutral is crucial, especially in sensitive situations, to avoid personal biases influencing the interpretation.

  4. Being approachable, empathetic, and respectful allows interpreters to navigate challenging conversations with professionalism.

Adaptability: Being Flexible and Quick to Adapt

  1. Interpreters must possess adaptability skills as they often work in various settings with different subject matters.

  2. They need to quickly adjust to changing circumstances, terminology, and language nuances during interpretation.

  3. Adaptability ensures interpreters can handle unexpected challenges, such as technical difficulties or time constraints.

  4. Being flexible also allows them to cater to the specific needs and preferences of their clients effectively.

Cultural Competence: Understanding Cultural Differences and Customs

  1. Cultural competence is essential for interpreters to accurately convey messages while considering cultural nuances.

  2. Understanding cultural differences helps interpreters avoid misunderstandings or misinterpretations.

  3. It enables them to navigate through cultural customs, etiquette, and sensitivities appropriately during interpretation.

  4. Cultural competence enhances effective communication and builds positive relationships between diverse individuals or groups.

In the end, a successful Nigerian interpreter must possess language proficiency in multiple languages to effectively convey messages.

They should also have excellent interpersonal skills to build rapport and maintain neutrality in sensitive situations.

Adaptability is crucial for handling various settings and unexpected challenges.

Additionally, cultural competence allows interpreters to understand and respect cultural differences, ensuring accurate interpretations.

These skills and qualities play a vital role in the daily life of a Nigerian interpreter, making them indispensable in bridging communication gaps and promoting effective cross-cultural understanding.

Read: How Nigerian Languages Influence Interpreter Roles

An Insider's View: Daily Life of a Nigerian Interpreter

Training and education for Nigerian interpreters

Academic programs

  1. University of Lagos – Department of Linguistics and African Languages

  2. University of Ibadan – Department of Linguistics and African Languages

  3. Ahmadu Bello University – Department of Languages

  4. University of Nigeria Nsukka – Department of Linguistics

  5. University of Benin – Department of Linguistics and African Languages

Essential courses and certifications

To become a professional interpreter in Nigeria, several courses and certifications are essential.

These include:

  1. Introduction to Interpreting: A foundational course that introduces the basic principles and techniques of interpretation.

  2. Linguistics and Anatomy of Language: A course focusing on the structure and function of languages, which helps interpreters understand the nuances of different languages.

  3. Cultural Studies: An essential course that provides interpreters with a broader understanding of the cultures and customs they may encounter during interpretation.

  4. Legal Interpretation Techniques: A specialized course that trains interpreters to work in legal settings, understanding legal terminology and procedures.

  5. Medical Interpretation Training: A course designed to equip interpreters with the necessary knowledge and skills to interpret in medical environments.

  6. Conference Interpretation: An advanced course that trains interpreters to work in high-profile events and conferences, handling technical and specialized subject matters.

  7. Professional Interpreter Certification: Interpreters can pursue certification through professional organizations such as the Nigerian Institute of Translators and Interpreters (NITI). Certification validates interpreters’ skills and increases their professional opportunities.

Continuous learning

Continuous learning and professional development are crucial for Nigerian interpreters to stay updated and improve their skills.

This can be achieved through the following means:

  1. Attending workshops and seminars: Interpreters can participate in workshops and seminars organized by professional organizations or language institutes to enhance their knowledge and skills.

  2. Keeping up with industry trends: It is important for interpreters to stay informed about the latest developments and trends in the field of interpretation. This can be done through reading industry publications, following relevant blogs, or joining online communities.

  3. Mentorship programs: Joining mentorship programs can provide valuable guidance and support to interpreters, allowing them to learn from experienced professionals in the field.

  4. Networking: Building a strong professional network can open doors to new opportunities and collaborations. Interpreters can attend industry events, join professional associations, and connect with colleagues.

  5. Self-study: Interpreters can engage in self-study by practicing interpretation techniques, researching difficult terminologies, and continuously expanding their vocabulary in different languages.

In fact, Nigerian interpreters can pursue academic programs, essential courses, and certifications to acquire the necessary skills and knowledge for their profession.

Continuous learning and staying updated are important aspects of their career to ensure they provide the highest quality interpretation services.

Read: Becoming a Freelance Interpreter/Translator in Nigeria



Throughout this blog post, we have explored the daily life of a Nigerian interpreter, shedding light on the challenges and rewards they face.

We discussed the diverse range of situations they encounter and the importance of their role in facilitating communication.

Final thoughts

As someone who has experienced life as a Nigerian interpreter, I can attest to the immense satisfaction that comes from helping people bridge language barriers.

It is a profession that requires patience, cultural sensitivity, and a deep understanding of language nuances.

Call to action

I urge all readers to recognize and support the invaluable work of interpreters in their communities.

Whether in hospitals, courtrooms, or refugee camps, their contribution facilitates understanding and ensures that individuals’ voices are heard.

Let’s appreciate and encourage these unsung heroes who bridge linguistic divides.

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