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What You Need to Know About Successful Simultaneous Interpretation

Successful Simultaneous Interpretation Tips

Tips for successful simultaneous interpretationInterpretation Services play an important role in ensuring effective communication when a group of people have gotten together but are unable to communicate due to a language barrier. If you have ever seen a news clip of the United Nations in session, you have probably witnessed simultaneous interpretation. If you have seen an interpreter and speaker alternate their speech in which the interpreter waits for the speaker to finish an idea before rendering the message in the target language, you’ve witnessed consecutive interpretation.

Near-seamless, real-time communication through interpretation

Unlike consecutive interpreters, simultaneous interpreters render the source language to the target language as fast as possible. This allows for communication between a speaker and an audience almost in real time, even if they do not speak the same language. Simultaneous interpretation is especially helpful when there is a timed schedule of events that must be followed, such as a presentation, study tours, and important business meetings. It can get complex in large groups and when multiple languages are present.

Know these 4 Notes to ensure Successful Simultaneous Interpretation!

To support a simultaneous interpretation, there are specific requirements you’ll need to be mindful of.

1. Simultaneous Interpreters Work Best in Pairs:

Simultaneous interpretation is a mentally demanding job, so it is important to have at least two interpreters on site. That way, when a break is needed, interpreters can switch off seamlessly. Taking breaks is crucial in a simultaneous interpretation as even pausing for a drink of water could throw the entire presentation off. Typically, interpreters will switch off with one another every 15 – 20 minutes throughout the assignment. Although a master simultaneous interpreter may be able to work on their own for an hour or so, having two interpreters onsite will provide the best result.

2. Providing supporting material to the interpreter:

If at all possible, it is also helpful to provide the interpreting team with any prep materials so that they can familiarize themselves with the topics and the terminology that will be used throughout. The more prepared the interpreting team is, the more complete of a job they will be able to do. They can research vocabulary and even ask questions when they have time to review the content or the presentation to be covered.

3. Determine if you’ll need interpretation equipment:

As part of the planning phase, it is important to discuss with the Translation Agency regarding the necessity of equipment for the simultaneous interpretation. Knowing the setting and the characteristics of the event are important for the selection of equipment:

  • Full-sized or tabletop booths in a conference setting are an essential piece of equipment to ensure that everyone in the room is receiving the message in the language that they understand. Full-sized booths are fully enclosed and provide soundproofing, while tabletop booths are partially enclosed and provide partial soundproofing. When conducting a simultaneous interpretation, it is also critical to have an onsite technician to set up, test, and troubleshoot if needed.
  • Portable interpretation equipment can be utilized when the event requires mobility, such as a tour. Interpreters listen carefully to the speaker and interpret through a microphone to the audiences’ headphones. Portable equipment generally uses radio frequencies to connect the microphone to the receivers wirelessly.

4. Plan the Simultaneous Interpretation in advance

The most important note is your first step, and that is to plan the Interpretation event ahead of time! Having enough time to find the right team of Interpreters and the appropriate equipment is key. Having all the questions answered before embarking on designing or even budgeting your interpretation project is fundamental.

When planning an event where simultaneous interpretation is taking place, it is important to discuss the entire scope of the project with an expert in the field. Given that there are many moving parts throughout a simultaneous interpretation, it is easy to see where one wrong move can negatively impact the entire day. Planning every detail-from the setup to the actual interpretation-down to the equipment strike will help avoid any errors that could have otherwise been avoided.

Work with a Knowledgeable Language Services Company that will find the right resources

The team at JR Language Translation Services has handled all types of simultaneous interpretations ranging from large-scale conference presentations to campus tours for international students. We have years of professional experience planning and carrying out simultaneous assignments in most major cities in the United States. We also offer interpretation services in Canada. We look forward to helping with your next event.

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Robert Kells
Robert Kells
Robert began working at JR Language in September, 2017. He comes to the office everyday excited to help those in need of a translation solution. In his free time, Robert enjoys golfing, spending time with family & friends, and watching the Buffalo Bills.