Brazil conference speaker interview series: Branca Vianna 2

Branca_ViannaMeet the speaker

Today’s installment of the Brazil conference speaker interview series highlights the responses of Branca Vianna, who has been working as a conference interpreter since 1990. Branca will be speaking on her professional experience and offer advice to aspiring – as well as current – conference interpreters as part of her presentation at the upcoming event in Recife.

The interview

MK: How did you get started in translation/interpretation?

BV: I trained as an interpreter in college. It was one of the majors available to undergraduates who were studying Languages and Literature at PUC-Rio. When I started college I had no idea what interpretation was, but a friend was taking the course and suggested I give it a try, since I had lived in the US as a child, could speak fluent English and was disappointed with my choice in major, which had originally been Brazilian and Portuguese literature. I took her advice and never looked back. I never really had any other profession. My friend is also still working as an interpreter in Rio – we often work together.

MK: What would you consider the most important challenge facing freelance translators or interpreters today?

BV: I think the most important challenges are the highly competitive market and the need for constantly updating your skills, both professional skills and marketing skills. Social networks have made marketing yourself easier, but keeping up with all this marketing is also very time consuming, and can take away from the main event, which should be working on your languages and preparing for conferences.

MK: What advice would you give freelancers seeking to expand their client base?

BV: My advice would be to use social networks as much as possible, to become digitally literate, but to not forget that none of that will matter if, once you land a job, you don’t know the terminology, don’t know how to behave at a conference, haven’t kept up your B and C languages (and even A language) and just bomb in the booth. Clients do not give second chances very often, and neither do chief interpreters.

MK: What one piece of advice would you give to someone just starting out in translation or interpretation?

BV: To work hard in keeping up your skills once you are out of interpreting school. Learning never ends for interpreters. Continue to read and listen to your podcasts, just like your teachers taught you to, practice consecutive on your own, record yourself every once in a while, try to attend classes at your alma mater if work is scarce just so your interpreting doesn’t get rusty. In short, do everything you can to keep in shape. It’s slow going in the beginning, but keep at it and you will succeed. We’ve all been there and you are not alone.

MK: You will be giving a session at the upcoming conference in Recife, Brazil, called “O profissional de interpretação no país da gambiarra.” What can attendees to this session expect to learn?

BV: They can expect to learn about the difference between professionals and amateurs and why it matters in the world of interpreting.

The event

This is the third installment of the multi-part speaker interview series featuring the presenters of the Fifth conference in Brazil, which will be held on August 24th and 25th in Recife.

To learn more about this event and register to attend, please visit


  1. Pingback: Brazil conference speaker interview series: Débora Pereira « Translator T.O.

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