AIB

AIB
We Say What You Mean

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Simultaneous Interpretation: Talent or Technique?

These days many schools around the world offer aspiring interpreters the opportunity to study Simultaneous interpretation at Undergraduate and Graduate levels.  

Interpreting has developed a reputation as a profession where one can make a good living, travel the world and be privy to fascinating discussions. Even Hollywood has taken note. Films such as The Interpreter, The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty show interpreters as essential players in the world of diplomacy and politics steeped in intrigue and excitement. 

As a result of Interpretation’s growing popularity, here at AIB we’ve been getting a lot of questions from young people about what it takes to be a good interpreter.

The most frequent question we are asked is “Can Simultaneous Interpretation be Taught?”

The answer is mostly YES…and partly, NO.

Let’s start with the YES. Most reputable Interpretation Programs can provide training in the following:

  •         To grasp what lies behind the speaker's words
  •        To keep the message in context
  •        To convey it consecutively or simultaneously
  •         To learn a special note-taking technique
  •         To practice concentration, discourse analysis and fast reaction
  •         To build useful glossaries
  •         To develop public speaking skills
  •         To prepare for different types of assignments
  •         To manage stressful situations
  •         To observe a code of conduct
  •         To prepare for entry into the profession
  •         To understand what the speaker wants to say


The above skills are key to our profession, but they cannot be put into practice unless one naturally possesses the following traits:

  •           A polished command of their own native language 
  •           A complete mastery of their non-native languages
  •           A familiarity with other cultures 
  •           A commitment to helping others communicate
  •           An interest in and understanding of current affairs
  •           World experience away from home and school 
  •     A pleasant speaking voice
  •           A friendly, collegial attitude
  •           Calm nerves, tact, judgment and a sense of humor
  •           A willingness to adhere to rules of conduct (e.g. confidentiality)
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For further information about what it takes to have a career in interpretation, please contact us


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