Two Tongues are Better Than One

Fluency in a foreign language can translate into a world of professional possibilities.

Language Line Inc. is an interpretation services company based in Monterey, California, that uses interpreters to translate the spoken and written word. For the past six years, Haitian-born Alex Fabien has worked out of his home in Miramar, Florida, interpreting French and Haitian Creole to English and vice versa. He got the job while attending Florida International University as a mathematics major. “A Language Line representative contacted someone from FIU’s Career Office about available job opportunities,” he says. “The Career Office called and asked me if I was interested.” Fabien’s interest earned him an enviable career. Working the night shift translating calls eight hours a day, Fabien is able to spend quality time with his wife and young daughters.

Using Language Line’s services for phone calls is simple. If a caller needs to reach a business or household where English is not spoken, he or she calls Language Line and asks for an interpreter who speaks a particular dialect or language. “After the caller explains the nature of the call [e.g., business or personal], the conversation is then conducted with the help of the interpreter,” he says.

Fabien, who earns approximately $40,000 a year, never thought his multilingual skills would present him with a job opportunity. “I get paid specifically because I speak more than one language. I know people who earn a living with other skills and abilities who have to use their linguistic skills, but they don’t get paid for it” he says.

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