In schools all over the United States, an astonishing number of teachers are actively discouraging their students from studying foreign languages because "there are no jobs other than teaching" — this at a time when language capabilities are more critical to our national security and economic success than ever before. Some educators are so unfamiliar with our profession that they don't even know the difference between translation and interpreting. That means it's up to us to tell students what the professional standards are for qualified translators and interpreters.
The linguists-to-be in America's classrooms today are sitting next to a whole lot of clients-to-be. The more these future doctors, lawyers, and business owners know about our field, the more likely they'll be able to appreciate the importance and complexity of our work and compensate us accordingly. In classrooms from grade school to graduate school, translators and interpreters just like you are not only educating the next generation of language professionals but also the next generation of clients.
Yes, believe it or not, most of the people who have done this will tell you it's an absolute blast. Watch the School Outreach video and get inspired!
No problem. You'll find plenty of tips under Getting the Gig.
We can help! Read our General Guidelines for ideas on keeping your butterflies to a minimum.
We've done our homework on this and have put together a page of School Outreach Resource Materials. This page has links to four age levels: elementary school, middle school, high school, and university.
Each level offers tips on what to say and how to say it, links to sample presentations and other materials that you can customize for your own use, a link to a handout for teachers, and an "extra credit" section with ideas that go beyond a quick presentation in the classroom.
All we ask is that you acknowledge ATA, give appropriate credit to the author of any presentation you use or adapt, and please let us know (for our own internal statistics) when and where you used the material.
We'd also welcome your comments and any ideas you may have for additions or corrections to the material we've collected here. Please send your feedback to the School Outreach Program.
We have made enormous strides, but there's an enormous amount of work still to be done. It's high time we got serious about this. The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is right now. Join us.