Analysis exercises for consecutive interpreting

‘Analysis’ is often cited as one of the most important skills in consecutive interpreting but it’s one that is less often practised in isolation. In this film Andrew Gillies suggests 3 exercises aimed at practising your analysis skills. The first exercise, based on newspaper headlines, will train you to look beyond what is said explicitly and bring to the forefront of your mind all of the implicit information on a given subject. This will help you put what is being said in any speech into some context and better understand it.

The other two exercises train a different type of analysis, namely that of breaking speech down into it’s component parts. Students can often see a speech as an indivisible mass of words and that can be very daunting. In actual facts speeches are usually made up of small manageable (and inter-related) sections that can be portrayed on paper, or in your minds-eye.

For an interesting blog post about analysis seeJust what is analysis anyway?” 

To find out more about Andy Gillies click here

Andy Gillies is interpreter trainer and coordinator of AIIC training.

RETOUR DEMO DE EN: Die Bahnstadt

“Notetaking is a very individual technique. I think it is strongly related to the way the individual interpreter processes information. Most interpreters note down lots of facts, numbers etc. This approach bears the risk of missing the links and coming up with a lot of information which, however, may then be presented in an incoherent way. Also, their active listening may suffer, as they concentrate too much on the notetaking.

I am a very visual person and my brain processes and stores images better than single facts. Therefore, when I take notes, I usually draw images of the things I hear. This way, I memorize while I transcribe the oral information into images, and I reproduce freely, as I describe the pictures I see and remember. However, given that I have a pretty bad memory for names and numbers, I may have to write down these pieces of information, as well as links, or even grammatical features.” Christofer FISCHER.

Nele.FASSNACHT and Christofer FISCHER are both staff interpreters at DG INTERPRETATION, European Commission.

A consecutive demo: los locávoros


Gemma and I are both interpreters and we were asked to do a speech and consecutive for you to show you just one example of how an interpreter’s consecutive notes are used to convey a message in a lively way, so that the interpreter is taking real ownership of the speaker’s message. As we did not have much time for filming, Lourdes suggested we met beforehand and ran through the speech together to see if there might be any potential stumbling blocks for my notes, as that was the focus of her video this time. So this was not a real test situation (as I was not hearing it totally for the first time) but I had NOT taken notes from it the first time so the film shows me actually taking notes from a speech having heard the story once before. The speech was not read. It was a story that Gemma was telling and she did not necessarily say exactly what she had said when I heard it the first time earlier that day. So it was very close to being a real consecutive situation but not quite!

In a way that is more like a meeting as you would be aware of the subject and vocabulary beforehand and would be conveying arguments which are less unpredictable than in a test or an open competition. The speech was not that difficult and only lasted about five minutes, I think. In a test one might be asked to do a speech of seven or eight minutes and that is perfectly possible when one has been trained to do it.  As conference interpreters we mostly do simultaneous interpretation so consecutive is sadly not such a frequent occurrence but I believe it is the best possible way of learning to be a good interpreter because your powers of analysis and understanding have to come to the fore. You cannot allow yourself to get hung up over one word or the way to say something. The great advantage is that you have the time to listen to the whole speech before you render it in your mother tongue so you are in almost the same position as the speaker and can really try to put across the whole message. That is why I think consecutive interpretation is actually a great deal more satisfying to do even though it never stops being a bit nerve-wracking ! Adrenalin is never a bad thing though and I really recommend all student interpreters not to be scared of consecutive and even to try to enjoy it!”

Anne and Gema are both staff interpreters at the SCIC, DG INTERPRETATION, European Commmission.

Consecutive note-taking

How best to avoid the potential pit-falls of poor note-taking. Dick, formerly organiser of EU Commission interpreter training course and subsequently trainer of trainers, tells us. Dick, antiguo organizador del curso de formación de intérpretes de la Comisión Europea y, desde entonces, formador de formadores, nos explica cómo evitar las potenciales trampas de una mala toma de notas.