Interpreters in China—what are they like?

Everyone who is determined to succeed in solving business issues in China is looking for an assistant or an interpreter who can become his right hand. What the interpreter should be like and why it is important to have a reliable insider—I would like to share my vision of it below.

Today I do not call myself just the interpreter. I have regular clients so the interpretation work is secondary for me. Fortunately, I speak good Chinese, and I have accumulated significant experience in dealing with business in China during my work with clients. Besides, I have a competent, all-around, and very smart husband who supports me in any situation. So I do not have to look for extra help in my work.

While working in China, I have met my colleagues who do their job well. So I often cooperate with them and give them clients I do not have the opportunity or time to work with. I have also met illiterate and impolite colleagues with whom I parted at the very beginning for me not to disgrace my own name. I can recommend you only trusted people—the ones whose language and abilities I am sure of. Unfortunately, I have not seen all my colleagues in person, but I always ask for clients’ feedback so I know who to work with and whom to avoid. As a representative of the service sector and the interpreter and business agent in China, I have requirements for my work and, of course, requirements for other interpreters. If I needed to hire an interpreter in China, I would take into account the following characteristics:

– Good command of Chinese and correct English/Russian language (without junk words and jargon). Sometimes I do not understand what people say in English/Russian if they do not use the normal English/Russian language.

– Experience in working with manufacturers.

– Knowledge of foreign trade and export from China plus experience in the organization of delivery and customs clearance. It is important if you plan to hire the interpreter to handle orders in China. There may be a lot of unclear situations if the interpreter lacks this knowledge. You will have to solve the problems by paying fines or spending more money on additional services.

– Literacy and versatile development.

– The ability to adapt to a language situation and to interpret terms without knowing specific vocabulary.

– Intuition and logic. Intuition is necessary in working with clients and Chinese manufacturers. Logic is necessary for saving time and making quick decisions.

– Responsibility and punctuality. The interpreter without these qualities may fail to come to the meeting or fail to prepare for negotiations.

– Politeness, endurance and patience.

– Neat and impressive appearance. I can’t say it for everyone, but this point is also important for me. That’s because you can’t expect them to take you seriously if you are accompanied by a guy wearing flip-flops or being a bit hungover after yesterday’s holiday.

I’m not a robot and not a computer so I can take some points a bit easier sometimes. But if the Chinese interpreter is competent, the client and the interpreter will find the solution or way out together. It is difficult to find the interpreter having all these qualities. You can see some of the qualities only in the work. You should pay attention to the interpreter’s work and behavior in different situations and only then entrust your business to him or her.

Free time of the interpreter in China

I have always loved to watch wartime movies. They differ from modern ones in their atmosphere. When coming home to Russia, I am happy to spend time watching old movies on TV. Due to my interpretation work, I rarely find time to watch TV, but today I found myself watching five or even six episodes of a Chinese movie “Steel years” (钢铁年代). It tells how steel was tempered in China. Such movies remind me of my home—when I woke up on a frosty winter Sunday morning, and I felt the smell of fried pancakes. I wrapped up in a blanket, followed the smell, half-asleep, took a couple of hot pancakes, and turned on the TV in the cold room (I was born and grew up in the north). And wrapped up in the same blanket until lunch, sometimes running to the kitchen for Mom’s pancakes and a cup of hot sweet tea, I was watching movies about war. They are always imbued with sincerity, strength of human nature, innocence, friendship, and love.

Steel years tells about Anshan metallurgical plant and the lives of its workers being Chinese communists. I am not sure that the movie was shot in Anshan, but I studied at an Anshan university in Liaoning province, China, so it was twice as interesting to watch the movie. I am looking forward to the next evening. I am ready to even miss my favorite yoga classes.

Interpreter in Guangzhou and other cities of China. The cost of the service.

Every day I get phone orders for interpretation services in China and in its main cities: Guangzhou, Shanghai, Beijing and others in the adjacent areas. I live in Guangzhou that is situated in the south of China. The travel time from Guangzhou to Shanghai or Beijing is about 2.5 hours by plane. So when ordering services provided by the Guangzhou interpreter, you need to take into account the additional travel and accommodation costs. If my clients need to go to the northern and eastern provinces, I recommend many of them to find an interpreter in Shanghai or Beijing. I am sure there are Chinese interpreters. And if there are no professional Chinese interpreters or any interpreters at all, you can contact me. Again, please take into account all the additional expenses.

Now let’s talk about my work on a prepayment basis. When I take an order from one client and receive his advance payment, I am sure that the day is booked. Then I plan my daily work with other clients. I do it as well as the interpretation work. Many people think there are a lot of interpreters in Guangzhou. So it is not a problem to find an assistant. They fly to Guangzhou and call the interpreter on arrival—on the day before work. I don’t speak for everyone, but my days are always planned. It can be work with a client at an exhibition or factory, a trip to the factory for checking the goods. I can also be busy with having a container loaded, going to the banks, shopping or just watching movies at home. I am not always happy to change even the last point though watching movies does not bring me 1,000–1,500 yuans as the interpretation work. I like organization, and I don’t like spontaneity. I may be a little strict about the organization of work. I’m not likely to go and work if I get a call in the morning some day when I am planning to watch movies. Let’s return to the clients’ question why they can feel safe making the advance payment for my work. I have been living in Guangzhou for more than 4 years. I don’t see any point in running away with $200 paid in advance. Even if the amount was $200,000, believe me, you could rely on me. I was raised in the right family, had right friends, and I’m the right person. Maybe it doesn’t convince the reader. Still, it is of no use for me to deceive anyone. Moreover, stolen money does not bring happiness—and I believe that.

To order the interpretation services in China, you can contact me by phone or using the request form.

My way to China or how I became an interpreter in Guangzhou

It is my fifth year in Guangzhou and my sixth one in China. My clients often ask me how I got in Guangzhou and why I came here so I want to tell you about it in detail.

I came into contact with China after high school. I graduated with honors so the President of the Republic awarded me and some of my other classmates a trip to China. In 2001 I visited the Great Wall of China for the first time, where, after a huge number of high steps, I wrote my name with a marker on the wall. I promised to return there one day. Before the trip to China, I entered a university, Faculty of International Economics, in Tomsk where I planned to study English. English was my hobby at school. I participated in Republic-level English competitions and won prizes. After going to China, I had the opportunity to go to another university. The English groups were full, but the Chinese-English groups were still available. I passed the exams and chose to study closer to home—in the city of Blagoveshchensk, Amur Oblast, where I began to learn Chinese.

In 2004 I went to China for a training. I chose a provincial town for my studies. It was known for its metallurgical plant—Anshan, Liaoning province. There were a few foreigners in Anshan at that time. There were only three Russian students at our university. Six months later, there were only two of us left. I can say that the training was almost individual. After graduation, I passed the HSK exam. It checks the level of proficiency in Chinese. My level was 8 out of 8. I returned to Russia with a wealth of knowledge of the language and culture, and I was proud of it.

My teachers sent me to Chinese competitions to Vladivostok and the Chinese city of Qiqihar. I won prizes at both competitions.

I started looking for a job during the fifth year of university studies. I wanted to quickly use my knowledge of the Chinese language and to show my abilities. I graduated from university with honors. During my studies, I worked as a Chinese teacher at the school of foreign languages at the university. I also gave private lessons to adults and children. I managed everything, and I liked the pace of life.

I got a job at a company in Guangzhou so I came here. The city struck me with its grandeur: illuminated tall buildings, four-story overpasses, lots and lots of people, and lots and lots of possibilities… At first it all seemed complicated and confusing. The city seemed huge compared to the one I lived before. But today it is 2011 already. Guangzhou seems so huge to me no longer. Sometimes I think I feel more comfortable in Guangzhou than I would ever feel even in Moscow. I understand everything here. I can ask anything and get anywhere. I know where there are particular goods in Guangzhou or an institution, where new houses are built and where you can rent an apartment, where it is better to have meals, what to avoid. I know 90% of Guangzhou, I think. And if I do not know anything, it is not difficult to learn this or that information when you speak Chinese. Guangzhou has become my second home where I am happy to return even after the brightest trips to other cities or countries.

Today I have my own business in Guangzhou—I work as the interpreter and business agent in China. That is why I am glad to meet each of you in Guangzhou and accompany you as the interpreter to factories or exhibitions. I can be your responsible business agent and carry out daily work with factories in China: correspondence with manufacturers in Chinese, placing orders, preparation of documents, requesting samples, pre-shipment and production checks, shipment control, and the organization of delivery and customs clearance. In addition to the business agent services, I also provide organizational services: hotel booking, ticket booking, planning your business trip route and running any other business errands in Guangzhou or all over China.

Between China and Hong Kong

How different Hong Kong is from mainland China! The more I go there, the more I feel it and the more I am surprised at it. It seems that only the border separates these two territories, but no, there is not only the border. Everyone knows that Hong Kong is a former colony of Great Britain so everything is a bit European here.

I always cross the border in Shenzhen. You can start feeling that very clear contrast of China with Hong Kong there. The Chinese side is noisy, chaotic; there are no lines. Escaping from the mainland customs, you find yourself in paradise Hong Kong where all patiently stand in line, all are calm and polite. They do not step on your feet and do not strive to get on the train first.

Everything is different in Hong Kong. I love being there. I have been living in China for quite a long time. So sometimes I want to walk down the street and feel you’re just like everybody else, nobody looks at you, nobody gives you a happy smile and utters a weird “Hallo” and makes you—a fragile girl—wonder what is on his mind….

Working as an interpreter in China, I deal with new people and new places. I have worked and communicated with different people. As for Guangzhou, you can very often feel some foreign influence here: numerous cafes and coffee (I often see Chinese people in the famous Starbucks near my house), using forks during meals, style of clothing, and names of things in English. But these are only overtones. It is too early to talk about the whole picture because the population of China is too large to radically change in a short time. Moreover, the south of China is fundamentally different from the north. Traveling from Beijing or Harbin to Guangzhou, one can see the differences between northern and southern China, which begin at the very airport.

Well, that’s the culture of China. And I respect it deeply no matter what. Probably, that is why I still live in China. Perhaps I will move with my family to Hong Kong in the future, but now it’s just an idea. Who knows. Meanwhile, I am still ready, and I am always happy to be your permanent interpreter or business agent in China.

How to get from Hong Kong airport to Guangzhou

There are several ways to get from Hong Kong airport to Guangzhou:

1) If you do not speak English at all, then the best way to get from Hong Kong airport to Guangzhou is by bus. It will take more then traveling by train:  3–⁠4 hours depending on traffic jams. But it is a direct route. The fare is around HK$250. The buses depart from terminal A exit 04. The buses go to the hotels. One of them is the Guangzhou Garden Hotel—you’ll see a sign with this name on the actual buses. When you get off the plane, you will see some airport workers who meet transit passengers. Just in case, you should say you are going to Guangzhou—and they will show you which way to go.

2) Another way to get to Guangzhou from Hong Kong airport is to take bus A21 to the Hung Hom station. The fare is HK$33. You won’t get any change in the buses so you need to prepare some petty cash in advance. At the station, you can buy train tickets to the right of the subway entrance in the corner. There is also the way to the direct train to Guangzhou. The ticket price is HK$190; the last train departs from Hong Kong at 19:24. Travel time is 2 hours.

3) And the next way to get from Hong Kong airport to Guangzhou is as follows: take bus A43 to get to the Sheung Shui station, then go to the Lo Wu (Luo Hu) station by subway (it’s one stop) and cross the border—it will be the city of Shenzhen and its railway station. Then take the train to Guangzhou there. Trains run every 20 minutes; the ticket price is 85 yuans. You can buy the tickets at separate ticket offices.

4) If none of the ways above is right for you or you are afraid to get lost, you can fly from Hong Kong to Guangzhou by plane. I’ll meet you here.

I am your interpreter in China—I will tell you how to get from Guangzhou to Hong Kong or other cities of Guangdong province when we meet. So see you in Guangzhou.

How much interpretation services cost

I have been living in China for more than five years. I have been working as an interpreter in Guangzhou for more than four of them. I have regular and new clients who need my support for important negotiations or contracts at factories or for gathering information at exhibitions and its further analysis. I also support them during negotiations with some regular suppliers in order to save time and money. I accompany them to the wholesale markets of various goods or to a few attractions of Guangzhou.

The cost of my interpretation services depends on:

– the place and format of the work;

– the subject of negotiations;

– the number of working days;

– the client’s extra demands to the interpreter (preliminary search of manufacturers, competence in a particular field, hotel booking, meeting at the airport, or route planning).

– the frequency of cooperation: whether you are planning to work with me as a business agent in China in the future or you are placing a one-time order.

When making a request for the interpretation services , please specify the full information on the trip and your company. Please leave correct and available contact information. Then I will give you an accurate and prompt answer on possible cooperation and the cost of interpretation services.

And there’s one more thing: please send your request by email so I will see it during the day. If you send a request for the interpretation services in China via Skype, annatranslate, please leave voice messages or send me the information by mail as well. Sometimes I can’t see the Skype messages for various reasons so they remain unanswered. I am sorry if I once failed to answer someone’s message.

Wanted: interpreters in China

Everyone knows I am an interpreter in China. Many of my clients also use my services of a business agent in China. So I have a daily job that requires a serious approach and a lot of time. In this regard, I often refuse clients when receiving one-time orders for interpretation services in China. You can read my article about the details I take into account when receiving orders for interpretation services.

I have colleagues—freelance interpreters in China with whom I work or worked, but I need more contacts. Many of my colleagues have already left China. Some still study so they can not afford to miss classes every time I ask to replace me. Some are busy with their clients; some are not decent so I do not work with them anymore. Some just have a day off.

I live in Guangzhou, and I work as the Chinese interpreter only in Guangzhou and other cities of Guangdong province for many reasons. I very rarely travel to other provinces—either for special negotiations or for work with long-term clients. I know that Chinese interpreters in different cities of China (Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Hong Kong, Hangzhou, Suzhou, Qingdao, Xi’an, Yiwu, Xiamen) monitor the interpretation market in China and find my website. So I urge you not to pass by, but to leave your contacts. That’s my way to meet the needs of the clients and your way to get a chance to make money.

I have been working in the field of interpretation services and foreign trade since 2007. I know the clients’ requirements to interpreters, so I have my requirements for the Chinese interpreters that I recommend. Here are they:

– above-average level of proficiency in Chinese

– good English/Russian

– basic knowledge of foreign trade

– erudition and professional culture

– efficiency, sociability, patience, enthusiasm, persistence, and resourcefulness

– ability to distinguish between the main and secondary, which is very important when interpreting from English/Russian into Chinese

– availability for business trips around China

If you think you fit all the requirements, please send me your résumé by email. Please include your age and nationality, place and duration of study, the length of visa period, the city of residence, experience of working in China (company and position). Please send me copies of certificates and diplomas if any. That is a big plus for a Chinese interpreter.

I hope we will be able to work together. Please contact me. I am always happy to answer you.

Speaking Chinese and knowing China

If you are an interpreter in China, you need to know everything.

China is rich in culture and traditions. There are many thousand-year-old attractions that are worth seeing during your stay in China. Today China is also one of the leading trade partners of Russia.

China ranks first in the world in production of more than 100 types of goods. Today it produces at least a third of cameras, air conditioners, televisions, washing machines, microwave ovens of the world market. China is the world’s largest exporter of textiles, clothing, and shoes. In 2001 China joined the WTO. After that, the volume of trade between China and Russia increased dynamically. In 2008 China became the third country after Russia and the United States whose astronaut went to outer space. In 2010 China developed a passenger plane. Well, the stuffing is not Chinese yet.

The country is developing quite fast. Still, it maintains its customs and traditions. You can see it simply by walking along the streets of Guangzhou. Only Chinese old-timers can tell us the whole story of the last 20 years—since the time when the only available place for foreigners in Guangzhou was the Garden Hotel area.

Despite the country’s development, the cost of labor and rental of premises remains quite low. So many foreign manufacturers focus on trade more than on independent production. They entrust the production of goods under their brands to Chinese factories.

So what am I getting at? China produces a large number of different goods, and it is an unusual country. I work as the interpreter in China. So I have the opportunity to deal with different goods and different people, to face different situations and different issues.

I have recently found a quote: “People make less mistakes when they confess their ignorance than when they think they know all the things they are ignorant of” (Joseph Ernest Renan). This quote is very useful for me now. Sometimes I am embarrassed that I forgot some geographical and history facts long ago. Interpreters should be well-read and knowledgeable because of their profession. But sometimes I can not find answers to questions so I have to admit that I do not know them. If I say “I don’t know,” I don’t wake up at night worrying I’ve misled someone. It is just impossible to know everything: what shrimps are bred in the reservoirs, what tree blooms near the road, why the Chinese shuffle their feet, why they chew sunflower seeds and grow nails; what are the names of different mollusks and greens (people in Guangzhou eat a lot of greens; sometimes I know their names in Chinese, but I have no idea how to say it in Russian/English). I’d like to know everything.

Well, we can assess someone’s competence only in the context of the topic given. I don’t always know technical terms, which is understandable: I am a philologist, not a technical worker. Anyway, I always cope with equipment terms in China precisely because I confess my ignorance. So I get an explanation of a process or a particular part, and then I can transfer correct or at least understandable information. In such cases I feel like I received a prize when the client says he or she got it. If I could put these prizes on a shelf, I would probably take part in some who-has-the-most competition.

Do you like Chinese tea? Green tea, white tea, black tea, or pu-erh tea?

My clients often ask me where to buy Chinese tea and which Chinese tea is better: green tea, white tea, black tea, oolong, or pu-erh? We all love to drink Chinese tea and prefer different teas for their characteristics and taste: green tea, white tea, black tea, pu-erh, or oolong. All Chinese teas are useful and tasty in their own way. You just need to really taste them or try them once. I drink only Chinese tea. Only few clients of mine forget to buy a couple of kilograms of Chinese tea on arrival in China. As is our custom, the rest visit tea shops to buy their favorite Chinese tea.  I think we should not talk about the diversity of Chinese tea that can be bought right here in China or only in China.

Everyone who was once in China certainly went to a teahouse where he was treated to the famous Chinese tea. You won’t find such tea in the shops of any Russian city. Many have been to the tea markets of China, and some had a chance to visit even tea plantations.  Chinese tea is a tradition. Chinese tea is not only useful, but also, we can say, is fashionable today. Those who take care of their health and weight—young girls, guys, elderly women and men—prefer Chinese tea to any other drink.

The benefits of Chinese tea are well described in different sources: it promotes weight loss, improves metabolism, purifies the blood, reduces blood pressure, and prevents cancer. It is invigorating too. These health benefits of Chinese tea made it popular among Russian people and people from other countries. The whole world drinks Chinese tea today. Some drink green tea or pu-erh tea to lose weight; some drink oolongs (such as Tieguanyin) to wake up; others just enjoy the aroma and taste of Chinese tea.

If you are on my website, then you certainly have some connections with China. I’m pretty sure you love to drink Chinese tea as well as I do. I prefer Tieguanyin (oolong tea), Jin Jun Mei and pu-erh.  Right now I’m drinking amber pu-erh with a slight prune taste. It has given me the idea of sharing some Chinese traditions with my clients or just readers. So what Chinese tea will you choose?

If you run out of Chinese tea and you are not going to China soon, if you like to invite friends or business partners for a cup of tea, you can order Chinese tea directly in China. Just send me a request. I will send you any type of tea as I am right here in China, and I can get you incredibly fragrant and healthy teas.

Chinese tea, pu-erh tea, oolong tea, green tea