The Complete Interpreter

Everything you always wanted to know about the UN interpreting exams

June 05, 2023 Sophie Llewellyn Smith Season 1
The Complete Interpreter
Everything you always wanted to know about the UN interpreting exams
Show Notes Chapter Markers

Hi! Welcome to the Complete Interpreter podcast by the Interpreting Coach.

Why 'Complete Interpreter'? Because you're not just a translation machine, you're also a person and a business owner, and I hope to help you take a 360 view of yourself share some great tried-and-tested strategies to improve your interpreting skills, mindset, and marketing.

This episode is all about the UN interpreting exams, both freelance (GLR or Global Language Roster) and staff (CELP).
I couldn't have produced the episode without the assistance of many colleagues, including UN examiners Gillian Curry and Alice Ryckmans, Zilin Cui (Chinese booth), Olivier Quénette (French booth), Jonathan McGregor (English booth), Cory Bou (English booth), Maisie Greenwood, Aimee Linekar and Kirsten Coope. I am grateful to them for their time and generosity. Any errors in the podcast are my own.*

Here are some of the resources mentioned in the podcast:
- UN website
- UN Digital Recordings Portal
- Interpretation Station
- Chris Guichot de Fortis: interpreting in degraded mode
- my growth mindset challenge can be found by scrolling down the home page
- my podcast episode about reframing stress
- my podcast episode about getting over mistakes
- my course on dealing with acute stress
- Josh Goldsmith's blog post about UN Digital Recordings Portal
- free online courses about UN-related topics
- an interesting blog post about the UN exams from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies
- Emily and Amelia Nagoski's book on Burnout
- The Inner Game of Tennis (a guide to 'peak performance')

* I mentioned in the podcast that it might be possible to take 3 languages in one day for the English booth CELP; it seems that this isn't, in fact, possible, and that you'd have to do the 3rd language on a separate occasion.

Let me know what you'd like me to talk about next!

Sophie (aka The Interpreting Coach)

Support the show

My website and blog:
Twitter: @terpcoach

Or email me at

Intro and episode outline
How long was your 'journey' to the UN exams?
Exam prep strategies
Useful resources
Format of the exams (both GLR and CELP)
Difficulty of the exam speeches? Any surprises on the day?
Mindset tips
What the examiners are looking for
'Fatal flaws' - where candidates go wrong
Borderline fails - causes
LONG digression: is the UN looking for word-for-word translation?
Fairness in the exam process
UN support for candidates
Roundup of practical tips
Acknowledgements and outro