How to build your perfect interpreting skills?

April 8, 2015 5:38 pm

Interpretation is of the great importance nowadays. The profession of  interpreters appeared to satisfy the need of communication between different nationalities. It is an instrument of communication and information delivery at conferences and meetings of any kind: political, industrial or scientific. It is a tool used at any level of co-operation between schools, partner-towns or countries. There are many fields where interpretation is necessary. Thus both simultaneous and consecutive interpretation are vital components of communication internationally.

Simultaneous versus consecutive interpretation in a nutshell

Translation and interpretation are  terms often misunderstood by many people. Simply explaining, translation is a written whereas interpretation is an oral transfer from source language to target language. What about the difference between consecutive and simultaneous interpretation. Consecutive interpreting involves listening to chunks of speech and rendering them chunk by chunk in the target language in order to transfer the message as faithfully and accurately as possible. Whereas simultaneous interpretation means the immediate transfer of the message at the time of the speech, with the focus on passing on the main ideas. So, it is important to see the difference between simultaneous and consecutive interpreting and to choose the best option for international meetings. If you organise one-to-one conversations, intimate gatherings, HR meetings, consultations, you should choose without hesitation consecutive interpreting as the importance is having a faithful and accurate  rendition of the speech. On the other hand, simultaneous interpreting requires use of headsets, microphones and booths to  transmit a message to a large audience, and it is more like a free rendition than a typically literal one. If you would like to become an interpreter, it is not enough to speak fluently in two or more languages as it is a  more demanding job. First of all, interpreters are often in stressful situations. Especially when you do simultaneous interpretation, as you need to follow the speaker and interpret at the same time, and you don’t even have  one moment to be missed as you won’t get a second chance to hear the part of the speech which should be interpreted for the audience immediately. It is also a tricky job if you are unable to make a decision quickly and if you focus on detailed interpreting, which is impossible here as you don’t have time to wonder which word is the most suitable one. You need to interpret immediately with a maximum of a half-sentence delay. Note that even if you are not a chairperson, you are a person who plays first fiddle to the audience who doesn’t comprehend the message and waits for your support. The interpreter is almost like a second speaker, but an invisible one. The main prerequisites for becoming an interpreter are: an excellent elocution, communication skills, leadership, hearing and speech production abilities. It is also good to be a little bit  anticipative – especially  if some technological problems  occur and you  need to improvise. It is also a common practice to ask the speaker to provide some information about his speech, for example about the topic, the main points, and key facts, to be better prepared for interpreting later. As soon as you receive some information, you should start with preparing a glossary as well as searching for some additional information which is related with the field of your interpreting. If you think seriously about becoming a simultaneous interpreter, it is also good to be a highly educated person as you will never know what you need to interpret. The more you know from various fields or the more you are specialised in one concrete field, the better and easier your work will be in the future.

Which kind of memory is better for you?

If you intend to be a simultaneous interpreter, you use  mostly your short-term memory as you interpret immediately, so you only need to concentrate on the speech. However, if you are more interested in consecutive interpretation, you need to have an excellent long-term memory to keep in mind whole chunks of speech which on the average take about 3-8 minutes. In that case, it is highly recommended that you boost your memory thanks to some memory techniques and note-taking strategies. The interpreter should also be a polite, well-mannered and patient person as sometimes a spokesperson may give a really chaotic or boring speech and still you must follow him or her. Additionally, you aren’t allowed to express your personal opinions or make any comments or suggestions about  the topic to the audience.
Here you can find some helpful tips:

Written by Aleksandra Święcicka. Journalist, web editor and social media expert. Communication Trainee at TermCoord

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