Frequently Asked Questions

Experience shows that those who derive the most benefit from the Course include:

  • Interpreters having worked for a number of years, who would like to benefit from objective criticism with a view to updating and honing their skills
  • Interpreters who wish to practice and perfect new language combinations, including adding a language or transforming a C language into a B
  • Interpreters who teach or translate and who, due to time constraints, find themselves increasingly unable to maintain their own skills
  • Working interpreters who have had little formal training, and desire objective, in-depth, professional advice and feedback
  • Young interpreters who have limited working experience since graduation, but who obtained exceptional results in interpreting school final examinations.

NB:  The Cambridge Conference Interpretation Course is not an interpreting school, and students are expected to be capable of working at a professional level.

There is no deadline; however, as the student:teacher ratio is never more than 2.5:1, the spaces fill up rather quickly. We have 27 places for students, and the number of working languages depends on demand, with a quota per language. It is highly recommended that, if you are interested, you apply as soon as possible.
If I am unable to attend for the entire two weeks, may I come for only one?
This is not an option, as the CCIC methodology is based on a two-week layout and teaching progression.
If the Course Directors receive no payment, why do they come?
Some (though not all) of the reasons the Course Directors come to teach on the CCIC include: giving something back to the profession in which they have thrived; helping other interpreters to become better in all facets of their careers; helping to ensure that the profession is served and represented to the highest possible ethical standards by well-trained practitioners; and sharing their love and esteem for interpreting as an art-form. All of us have thought on many occasions throughout our careers, “wait a minute – my teachers never told me about that!” This is one way of spreading the word.

There are, of course, many other reasons, but you would have to ask each member of the teaching staff individually.
If the Course Directors are volunteers, what do tuition payments finance?
The Course is not profit making. Course directors are volunteers, but are not asked to go out-of-pocket to come and teach.

Course fees cover the costs of each teacher’s expenses while on the Course; remote interpreting platform licenses; all extracurricular classes; teaching materials; and special activities.

If any tuition fees are not expended on Course requirements, they are refunded equally to all private students after the accounts for the Course are paid in full.

Unfortunately, as the Course is not a profit-making initiative, and has no commercial links of any sort, we are unable to do anything to help those for whom the tuition fees are simply too high — much to our regret.

Some students have been sent by their employers (ECOWAS, the European Parliament, the George Marshall Center, the IMF, the Islamic Development Bank, NATO, the OPCW, the UIC, the UN Vienna). Some students may receive reimbursements from their employers. The full cost of the Course is a tax write-off for US taxpayers, and may be for taxpayers from other countries as well. Some countries, through programs targeted at freelance professionals, have provided reimbursement in past years for a portion of the fees.

Hilton Cambridge City Centre
Downing St,
Cambridge CB2 3DT, U.K.
Telephone: +44 (0) 1223 464 491

If you arrive by air from outside England, then Stansted Airport is the closest (± 1 hour by coach), followed by Luton and Gatwick. Heathrow is further away (± 2 ½ hour coach ride).

A taxi from Stansted airport to Cambridge will cost about £70 one way.  We have found this website for information on how to get from the various airports:, which gives information on all their bus services from Heathrow, Stansted, Gatwick, and Luton airports (with many departures daily). National Express allows you to buy your ticket in advance, and online.

Also, there is for the national rail service if you are already in England and wish to take the train from London or other cities.

If you arrive by train, we suggest you take a taxi to the hotel. This should not take more than about 10 minutes total, and the cost is not high, approximately £10. If you have little luggage, it is approximately a 20-minute walk.  If you arrive by coach, you are left off at Parker’s Piece, a green not too far from the Hilton, which is near the corner of Downing Street and St Andrew’s Street.

The hotel is the Course venue, so it will be easiest for you to stay there, as the days are always acknowledged to be much longer and more exhausting than they may at first appear. It is also a lot of fun staying with your colleagues somewhere so close to the city centre.

The package that we have is the best in the city for this type of venue, though there is other accommodation in the city that will save you approximately half of the accommodation cost. If you need help in finding alternative accommodations, please see the questions below, or else call the Cambridge Tourist Information Centre (Tel: +(44)1223 464 732).

Course participants may invite someone to stay in their room, for a charge of £10 per night for B&B. If the hotel has special deals for that time period that you satisfy, the lesser of the two charges will apply. If the guest wishes to have lunch or one of the formal opening or closing dinners with the Course, they may do so for an extra charge. The guest will only be allowed in the Course instruction room on an exceptional basis.

  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Sky satellite HD TV (sports, entertainment, and free-view channels)
  • Air conditioning
  • Generously sized double beds
  • Modern en-suite bathroom
  • Desk and work space area
  • Tea & coffee making facilities
  • Iron & ironing board

You may request wake-up calls from the front desk, so there is no need to bring an alarm clock.

Please keep in mind that this is a hotel in the center of the city.

Our group rate at the Hilton is £165.00 per night, inclusive of bed, breakfast and VAT, a highly competitive rate for a hotel of this category in the City of Cambridge.  This is a group rate, which is held for us until 45 days before the Course.  However, we do not have a block of rooms held for us – so if you choose to book your room closer to mid-June and the hotel is fully booked up, then you will have to find accommodation elsewhere.

We will either give you a website link or an email contact through which you may book your own room.  Your credit card will guarantee the booking, though you will only be charged for the room at the end of your stay.  If you must cancel your room, then the hotel cancellation policy will apply:  free cancellation until 30 days prior to the beginning of the Course, and 100% payment after that.  In this case, your card will be charged immediately.

We have a block of rooms reserved for us at the College, and any unbooked rooms will be released as of June 30th.  The College is popular, so make any reservations early.

Room details include:

  • For arrival on Sunday 4th August and departure on Saturday 10th August (first week of the Course ONLY):
    Superior double rooms with private or ensuite bathrooms – £99.00 per night inclusive of bed, breakfast and VAT. Up to 5 rooms on hold.
    These rooms are in staircases C, D and E in Second Court and all face into the garden which is ideal for any keen gardeners to get some tips. Each room has a private bathroom which is either ensuite within the room or opposite the bedroom close to it. These rooms have a comfortable desk and seating area to help unwind after a day on the course.


  • Bookings for these rooms should be made directly with our personal contact at the College, Jo Chase, with whom the CCIC has worked for many years in another capacity. Her contact details are:

    Email: or
    Telephone:  +44(0)1223 334926

If your language combination is not covered by the Course working languages (English, French, German, Italian, Russian or Spanish), or if your professional profile reveals insufficient experience to allow for fully-fledged student status, we can accept what we term “student-observers” or, in American English, “course auditors”. We are able to accommodate two per week.

This would involve your coming to the Cambridge Conference Interpretation Course and participating in all the extracurricular activities (mainly morning and evening, as shown on the Course website). You would also be present, though not in the booth, during the main sessions. In this way, you could take advantage of all the general/strategic teacher commentary, and language-group feedback, which represents over half of the total critical feedback.

You could also be present during the language-group breakout sessions. Here, if your working language is covered (and by arrangement with the relevant teacher/s), you could participate fully, and on some occasions avail yourself of a booth.

In addition, you would obviously receive all Course documentation, in exactly the same way as ‘full-fledged’ students.

This option would cost approximately half the normal fees, i.e. £50 per working day. We usually accept observers for one week only.

If this option appears attractive to you, we ask that you complete the enrolment form, requesting this option, and forward it to us, at which time we will be able to make a more informed decision.

Some thoughts and advice…

by Chris Guichot de Fortis, Course Director

Here you are, on a high-level conference interpretation course, and I would like to congratulate you on your choice!  This is a path that will give you great professional, intellectual and personal satisfaction and fulfillment.  However, you may not know – or at least not yet – the many difficulties and anxieties that will, all too often, be your companions throughout your training period.

I have been teaching for at least twenty years in interpretation schools in Belgium, France and the UK.  Year after year, to my great sadness, I have seen that the majority of students studying for a qualification in Conference Interpretation (or taking continuous professional development courses) come up against considerable emotional and psychological stumbling blocks that they never expected to encounter, and that unfortunately are unavoidable.

My goal in this article is to forewarn – and therefore forearm – you about the personal and psychological pressures that are an integral part of the interpreting profession, and of the initial and continuing studies that give access to that profession.  I hope in this way to give you the full picture, both to spare you harrowing mood-swings and personal doubts and questions, and to allow you to devote yourself fully to further learning and improving in this profession.  Essentially, I would like you to be competent and fulfilled interpreters, and at the same time to be happy on your chosen path.

  1. From the beginning, I am certain that you have always been (one of) the best in your school and/or university classes, since interpreting schools are always on the look-out for the most gifted and motivated students.  This has perhaps carried on into your working life as an interpreter.  On this Course, however, you will no longer be number one! This is of course logical, but this fact alone requires you to make the mental effort of seeing yourself with different eyes, serenely and confidently, as a “small fish in a big pond.”You will also have to understand that you have chosen an extremely difficult challenge.  This could well be the first time in your life that you are trying to acquire a range of further technical skills that you will not be able to master right off the bat.  You will have to work very hard, and be patient, before these skills are acquired and things begin to fall into place.  The good news is that, as long as you have the necessary linguistic and intellectual abilities, and as long as you work like a mad person, the skills and confidence will usually come.  The moral of the story:  be patient, work hard, listen to advice and don’t be surprised or depressed if you aren’t able to cope right away, or if you have both good and bad half-hours, or even days…
  2. You may not know this yet, but conference interpretation is an art.  The interpreter is constantly improvising, most often without a safety net, which requires access in real time to a wide-ranging set of skills and complex reflexes that do not come naturally and are initially fragile.Here is a telling description of jazz, which perfectly describes the complexities and the wonders of simultaneous interpretation:
    « Controlled spontaneity. Like ink painting, like haiku, like archery, like kendo fencing – jazz isn’t something you plan, it’s something you do.
    You practice, you play your scales, you learn your chops, then you bring all your knowledge, your conditioning to the moment.
    ‘In jazz, every moment is a crisis’, said Wynton Marsalis  ‘and you bring all your skill to bear on the crisis’.
    Like the swordsman, the archer, the poet and the painter – it’s all right there – no future, no past, just that moment and how you deal with it.
    Art happens….. »
    (Christopher Moore – A Dirty Job)You must understand that we are artists and performers, walking a tightrope; our profession requires – by its very nature – that we put ourselves on the line, that we invest ourselves intensely, wholly, and very personally in our performance, that we give it our all.  This is how we will become conference interpreters, worthy of this title, worthy of the message, worthy of our remuneration and worthy of our delegates!The flip side of such an investment is that your trainers’ comments and critiques may sometimes appear to become personal and/or counter-productive – or at least they may seem to be this way to you. Trainers and students must always remember that students are being evaluated and judged as conference interpreters, and not as human beings.  On your side, you students must find a way of accepting and acting on the feedback you receive from your trainers, without taking it personally or calling into question your value as a human being; I assure you that students all too often tend to misinterpret trainers’ comments and critiques in this way!
  3. Our profession may be considered a performance art, and conference interpreters are performers or artists, getting up on stage and digging deep to move, inspire and inform a public which needs them to be able to participate in a given event.  Therefore, interpretation “consumers” often feel as if the interpretation they are listening to is (as it were) a show, and therefore that they implicitly have a legitimate right to judge and comment on the interpreter’s performance, just as critics and the public do at an opera, the Olympic Games, or the theater.

How does one best prepare for Cambridge?

By Robert Weigel, CCIC 2010, A – English, B – French

Let’s assume that you have only 2-6 weeks remaining before you hear the bell ring to open the first session. What should you do?

Not everyone agrees, as you would probably expect, concerning how and even whether one can prepare for Cambridge.

Former course participants (“alumni”) who interpreted regularly in the year preceding Cambridge have told me that they did not undertake any special preparation prior to Cambridge. Some of the alumni offering such opinions were indeed very good at Cambridge and might question whether it is possible to actually prepare for Cambridge. I suspect they mean that it would be very difficult to specify an adequate and effective programme of preparation for Cambridge.  I would say, by contrast, that it is possible to prepare somewhat for Cambridge, but only somewhat.

My colleagues and I actually agree to a large extent, when it really gets down to it.

Most prospective course participants are unlikely to become vastly better interpreters over the course of the final month prior to Cambridge, although the exercises one might possibly undertake prior to Cambridge could really be helpful over the longer term, once everyone returns home.

  1. First and foremost, therefore, it is important to come to Cambridge rested and to stay restedwhile you are there. Cambridge is an intensive course of study – the feedback can be rigorous indeed.  You will benefit most if your mind and body are rested when you arrive. The importance of rest cannot be understated – Cambridge is “interpreting PLUS”.
    As a corollary to that, take care of your health, before you come to Cambridge and while you are there. Eating properly, exercising (perhaps with doctor’s consent) and getting to sleep early are all important. If I had to choose between only resting and taking care of myself during the final weeks on the one hand, and cramming down a bunch of material and practicing extensively before Cambridge on the other – and you may well be called upon to make this choice – I would choose the former.
  2. The real lessons of Cambridge have much to do with how you think about interpretation and about yourself as an interpreter, getting a taste of yourself working at a higher level and charting a course to achieve that. It is not a test for which you can memorize or consume large amounts of information and be guaranteed success.
    Prepare yourself mentally for Cambridge. Cambridge is that rare opportunity to get really good input from really experienced interpreters who might just help you, and that’s probably why you enrolled. Some modest desire to listen to criticism is required in order for this to succeed. This supposes that you will also come equipped with a sense of humour. Not everyone does ….In the short time remaining, practicing simultaneous until you’re exhausted is unlikely to help you much, although if you haven’t worked a half-day in the past several months (some students have other day jobs, e.g. working as translators), it is probably worthwhile to work into every language you plan on working into as a target language at Cambridge at least a little bit before you arrive, just so that you are not “cold” and so that you revive that sense of yourself as an interpreter prior to Cambridge. The Cambridge course will call you to become more aware of your own work.
  3. What if you are very rested already, have not interpreted recently and would like to do a bit more before Cambridge?Returning to the colleagues who did not prepare, they had, I suspect, maintained their basic interpreting reflexes in top form, even if they came to Cambridge to fine-tune their technique. They colleagues were not exhausted when they showed up in Cambridge because the weeks immediately preceding Cambridge fit into one of their regular rest periods! So, if you have not done much recently, “warm up” your simultaneous technique but “stock up” on rest!Now, if you are trained in it, practicing long consecutive (with notepad) might help you, not necessarily for purposes of consecutive per se, but with re-considering the de-verbalization and reformulation aspects of your simultaneous work, particularly into any B languages. Some will that find opinion controversial.If you do practise simultaneous interpretation prior to Cambridge, record your voice. Listen to your voice now, in every one of your active languages (current or future). Cambridge is a time to become more aware of yourself as an interpreter generally and to think about what you might do differently.If you haven’t done sight translation in a while, sight translate just once or twice into each of your active languages (current or future), using a timer to force yourself to complete the text at a rate similar to a delegate racing through their most dramatic rendition of a written text.

    Do not place great emphasis upon learning copious amounts of vocabulary, other than to continue the terminology-building exercises already incorporated into your professional regimen. If your lexical skills or word choice or grammar suffer in any of your languages, the professors will be sure to tell you, but once more, Cambridge is not primarily a vocabulary quiz, even though specific solutions to word puzzles will be undoubtedly be proposed.

    Would I attempt to study subjects I know will be covered at Cambridge? (Yes, I would.) If you are given the opportunity to prepare certain topics, working to understand those topics better before coming to Cambridge and possibly improving your vocabulary along the way, by all means, please do so. Otherwise, rest your mind. Attempting to review all kinds of subjects might wear you out. Your flashy vocabulary is unlikely to disguise other aspects of your interpretation that require additional work.

    If you are a freelancer and you have translation clients, I would urge you to consider informing them that you will be 100% unavailable for these ten days. That will help you to stay rested and to rest your mind in the evenings while you are at Cambridge.

    You should also plan some of your free time before you come to Cambridge, for rest and for sightseeing, because planning everything on-site adds extra complications on certain days. Go punting with the group because it is fun and it is beautiful. There is a small museum on polar exploration just down the street from the Royal Cambridge Hotel and the Fitzwilliam Museum is overflowing with exhibits. Some of us went running on the paths in the fields in the morning. Plan on doing something besides just staying inside the entire middle weekend. Buy the DK Shakespeare book Chris recommends and attend some of the performances of the Cambridge Shakespeare Festival. They really are very good – one of our performances got rained out and the members of troupe performed several scenes of the play for us under a tall pine tree in the rain. Flexibility pays, from start to finish.

[Many thanks to my wonderful and amazing colleagues Ouassila Belaloui, CCIC 2010, A – French, B – English, C – Spanish, and James Norman, CCIC 2011, A – English, B – French, C – Spanish, for assisting me with this.]

Yes!  We are glad you asked.

For videos and texts on varying aspects of interpreting skills, please see Chris Guichot de Fortis’s website at:

For articles on marketing yourself, and classes on marketing, negotiating, and social media, please see the website for Know Your Worth:  a seminar by Julia Poger at:

When you contact us to ask about enrolling, or to find out about the Course, we take your name, email address, language combination if obvious, and where in the process you are (date you wrote, did we reply, did you send an enrolment form, were you put on the waiting list, etc.).
If you enroll, we keep the enrolment form electronically, whether or not you attend the Course in that year, in case you are eligible for another year. The information is not entered anywhere else.
If you enroll and we accept you for a particular year, we keep the enrolment form organized by year, and we create a mailing list for all students and teachers from that year. We also create an email list for use before and during the class, and keep that list in our email account for group emails for the next year (holiday greetings, announcements about refunds, etc.). After this time, the email group still exists, though it is used very infrequently. We may also add your email address to a list of others in your general geographical area, for reunion dinners, etc.
After the year’s Course is over, some photos will be posted on our website, but they will be anonymous; if you see one you would prefer we not use, please let us know and we will remove it. Also, we will ask if we may use quotes from your feedback forms in the comments section of the website.

As per all data protection laws, if you wish your information to be removed from any of these areas, just let us know. Should you do so, if the information is no longer necessary for the smooth running of the current year’s Course, the information will be deleted. Of course, you could have asked us to do this at any time, even without any data protection laws – far be it from us to force anyone to stay in touch!

2024 Info at a Glance…

2024 session dates

4 – 17 August 2024

Working languages for this session

English, French, German, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish.

Course Venue

Hilton Cambridge City Centre
Downing St,
Cambridge CB2 3DT,
More info…

Biactive Young Interpreter Places

There are two student places available for young interpreters with a FR<>EN biactive profile.
Read more…

2025 session dates

3 – 15 August 2025