The Linguist

The Linguist 59,2 - April/May 2020

The Linguist is a languages magazine for professional linguists, translators, interpreters, language professionals, language teachers, trainers, students and academics with articles on translation, interpreting, business, government, technology

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Page 13 of 35 14 The Linguist Vol/59 No/2 2020 KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE Sue leads a group of tourists around Westminster (right); and her treasured Blue Badge (top left) FEATURES Sue Hyde on preparing to guide tour groups in Turkish I qualified as a London Blue Badge Tourist Guide in 2016 after two years of rigorous training, involving three written exams, seven practicals and a project. At some point, every trainee cries into their laptop wondering how it is possible to learn everything that is thrown at them. And as if that wasn't enough, I also took the foreign language exam to give myself another source of income in addition to the English-speaking market. Turkish was my strongest language, as I taught English for five years in Ankara and used Turkish for business in my pre-guiding career. Proudly showing off my shiny Blue Badge, I was released into the world of tourism. I learnt quickly that every job is different. The work ranges from researching bespoke tours, for example a walk on lost Victorian Bathhouses in the City of London, to adhering to a strict rule of no talking when transferring American footballers by coach from Heathrow to their luxury hotel in Hertfordshire. Work comes from various sources. Members of the British Guild of Tourist Guides and the Association of Professional Tourist Guides can be found via an online 'Find a Guide' search facility. We are often contacted by agencies, who might ask us to meet a family at a hotel or prepare a coach tour for 50 people. One of my tougher early jobs was guiding a group of teenagers around Westminster, knowing that they would rather be shopping or sleeping. I try to make guiding fun, teaching bits of British English like 'queueing for the loo'. A new tour can involve a lot of study. One fear that never goes away is that you won't know enough. Most guides over-prepare in case an expert is on the tour. Practical challenges include finding an efficient way to count 50+ people, and making sure you don't leave anyone behind. Some individuals and cultural groups are not so good at clock watching, so you have to be skilled at group management. There are other cultural expectations to bear in mind. Some people want full-on British history, and all the ins and outs of the Royal family, while others are more interested in shopping, taking selfies and the next meal. This is fine – you have to know your audience. Leaving your comfort zone Guiding is an international profession and there is always a need for guides with language skills. The English-speaking sector is a crowded place, so a guide with fluent language skills has an advantage, especially when applying to get on the initial training course. Furthermore, you can earn more money, as it is agreed in the industry that the guiding fee is higher for non-English tours. There are only five Turkish-speaking Blue Badge guides currently operating in London. Unlike guides who work in mainstream languages, we are not in constant demand and these jobs are often last-minute bookings, mainly due to visa difficulties. Therefore the majority of my work comes from the US (with my British English often a point of great curiosity). When I can take a job in Turkish, it forces me out of my comfort zone and gives me some much-needed language practice. When I have a confirmed job, I consult my own Turkish-English glossary for a quick refresh. I have several London guidebooks Guiding two ways The Institute of Tourist Guiding outsourced its language exam to the Chartered Institute of Linguists (CIOL) in 2016 and I was in the first batch of candidates. To prepare, I spent an immersion week in Istanbul and Ankara, staying with friends who were under strict instructions to use Turkish only. I sat in front of the TV stuffing Turkish into my ears. Going to see La Traviata at the State Opera House also helped: a pre-show synopsis in Turkish focused my listening comprehension, and Turkish surtitles tested my reading skills. The exam starts with a discussion on one of two pre-prepared topics. I talked about beer as part of British pub culture. Then the candidate is directed to give a consecutive interpretation into the target language. For the comprehension component, the examiner reads an article (which in my exam was about visiting English country homes and gardens) and asks questions about it. QUALIFYING IN TURKISH

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