Career in languages? Watch
Since I'm from Spain I do speak Spanish at native level, but I also speak English and a bit of German. It might take you some time to be fluent, even years, but it all comes down as how you find it easier. I managed to learn English by just being online, either by playing online videogames or translating subtitles for TV shows (from English to Spanish). It was great for me to do it this way as I found it enjoyable, within 4-5 months I was really fluent in English, then I topped it up by doing a degree in English Literacy. I'm not perfect at it but I'm always open to learning new things
I'm 22 years old and am interested in pursuing a career in languages. I don't speak any languages (other than English) fluently but love learning them in my free time and would like to become fluent in two at least. I know this will probably take several years to accomplish but eventually I would really like to have a career as a translator or interpreter. My question is, would it be necessary to have a language degree in order to find work in that field? I didn't study any languages (apart from English Language) at GCSE or A Level so a regular university probably wouldn't accept me. Any advice?
There are international language proficiency exams that you can compare yourself to. It's called CEFR (feel free to google). Basically, the level of a professional interpreter or translator should be high C1 (the 2nd highest level) or C2 (the highest level). A regular degree in French or Spanish at most UK universities (including Open Uni) should ideally get you to a C1 level in your final year as the standard of work expected from you in that year year will be set at C1.
What I would recommend is studying the languages at university because moving countries isn't usually financially possible (for most people) and this would help you reach C1 level as fast as possible all the while living in the UK. I would recommend you to do an undergraduate degree in languages and then do a Master's degree in Interpreting and/or Translation at one of the following universities: Bath, Leeds, Manchester or Heriot-Watt (in Edinburgh). I have a feeling that I might be missing out a university, but these 4 universities (and, maybe a few others) offer certified Master's degrees in translation and/or interpreting. Heriot-Watt, however, also offers an undergraduate degree in Translation and Interpreting but I might not recommend it as prestigious interpreting/translation jobs tend to prefer Master's degrees in interpreting/translation. But, I suppose a person could do the Heriot-Watt undergrad in interpreting/translation and then do a Master's at a different university in interpreting/translation as well.
Other universities offer Master's degrees in Translation (for once you complete your undergraduate degree), but they're usually more about the theory of translation and not actually learning to become a professional translator. This might not be what you'd want, so be a little careful distinguishing between the proper courses.
As for your undergraduate degree, Open University is excellent and its French and Spanish courses are really good! The only thing I would say is that it's (understandably) a little difficult to improve your spoken/listening proficiency of the language through Open University. So, if you're wanting to eventually get into Interpreting, you might struggle a little at first.
However, if you're genuinely set on doing languages then go with Open Uni. Study the course and try to go above and beyond by practicing the languages in your spare time through watching movies/TV shows, listening to music, reading books/newspapers and by, perhaps, taking occasional trips to the countries where the languages are spoken. You can choose to complete your entire degree with the Open Uni or by the end of 1st or 2nd year, you could enquire with some brick universities if they'd allow you to transfer your Open Uni credits and study at their university. It's not that Open Uni isn't good, but going to a physical university will help immerse you in the language more which will improve your spoken/listening levels. But, you don't have to transfer credits to a brick university if you don't want to; you could stick with Open Uni.
After your undergraduate degree, apply to various courses for Interpreting and/or Translation. Again, I recommend Bath, Leeds, Manchester and Heriot-Watt (in Edinburgh). There might be one more university but I can't seem to remember its name...
As an aside, I also studied French and Spanish at university. It's extremely rewarding and employable. I'm back to studying now but my other friends who also studied French and Spanish have gone onto working at the European Parliament, investment banking, tourism and so on.