Face to Face with Bart Roelands

In our younger years, our dreams of what we’ll do when we grow up can vary wildly. Firefighter? Astronaut? Sports star? Or perhaps increasingly these days, the most common aspiration is merely to be famous…


Now picture a young Bart Roelands growing up in the southern region of the Netherlands, not far from Eindhoven, feasting on TV series featuring famous lawyers such as Perry Mason or Matlock, and planning to follow in their footsteps, valiantly convincing judges with the sheer force of their arguments. Or alternatively reading One Hercule Poirot novel after another (in English, if you please), being transfixed by David Suchet’s definitive onscreen performances, and harbouring hopes of one day being a great detective.

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Face to Face with Anne Masur

Some translators are born into cosmopolitan, international households. Others have linguistic aptitude in their genes because of a long family history of learning and speaking foreign tongues, along with copious amounts of travel and exposure throughout their childhood and adolescence… and still others appear out of nowhere, landing like alien beings in a family with neither an interest in nor a history of languages, inexplicably showing up with the language gene. And not only that, but going on to make a living out of it.

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Face to Face with Simon Barnes

For some of us it’s the first magical encounter with an exotic culture on a childhood holiday, or an (imaginary) love affair with a faraway star singing in a foreign language, but for the young Simon Barnes, it was the quiet presence at home of his father’s French and German books that provided the first gateway to a new world. There can’t have been many shelves lined with such books in the small Leicestershire town of Market Bosworth (the scene of a defining battle in a civil war that marked England’s history), but then again his father had started out as a French and German teacher, before leaving to work for Rolls Royce.

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Face to Face with Elke Fehling

Like a trail of breadcrumbs in a fairytale, we can trace Elke Fehling’s love for languages all the way back through the decades. Her mother, who had been an au pair, was keen for her daughters to learn to speak other languages, so she encouraged them to watch Sesame Street from a young age (in English with German subtitles, which the 4-year-old Elke couldn’t read). Along with family trips to Italy and Spain, that early exposure sowed the seeds and inspired a sense of the magical properties of foreign languages.

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Face to Face with Jonathan Downie

In some ways, Jonathan Downie’s journey to the prominent position he now occupies within the interpreting industry occurred against the odds. Being born on a working-class council housing estate in the West of Scotland to a father who worked on the country’s railways, and a mother who took on various jobs over the years, didn’t exactly point straight to a degree, a Master’s, a doctorate, and a career in languages, with extensive research work and the publishing of two acclaimed books along the way.

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