The Different Skills in Consecutive and Simultaneous Interpreting

The Different Skills in Consecutive and Simultaneous Interpreting
Do consecutive and simultaneous interpreting require the same skillset? The answer is, not exactly. To be properly executed, both of these modes of interpretation need years of training from already fluent and bilingual students. Bilingualism is not enough to perform consecutive or simultaneous interpreting. Interpreters need to be able to articulate a multiplicity of ideas in at least two languages. They also need to understand the cultural context of these languages. They have to be up to date with any references that could be made, be that pop-culture, historical, political, etc. Interpreters must have strong short-term and long-term memories so they can remember what they are translating. Also, both consecutive and simultaneous interpreters need to be skilled multi-taskers. They have to be able to listen to a language, process what is being said, and then translate the language. The difference in their skillsets comes from how this translation is produced.

Consecutive interpreters rely on both their long-term and short-term memory to produce their translation. As they deliver this translation after the speaker pauses or finishes the statement, consecutive interpreters take vigorous notes while they listen. Rather than simply re-writing the speech, a consecutive interpreter’s shorthand notes symbolize the speakers flow. The interpreters use visualization to connect these symbols, which often represent common ideas, abbreviations and verb tenses. At this point in the translation process, the consecutive interpreter multi-tasks by listening and using his/her short-term memory to quickly code the speech in their shorthand. When the speaker finishes or pauses, the interpreter reads his/her notes to remember the flow of concepts. Then using their long-term memory to recall the speech, the interpreter translates into the target language.

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