Welcome to the
Intro to Interpreting.
Learn about interpreting techniques.
Complete exercises to help you begin learning the art of interpretation.
Practice interpreting before you take the Language Checkup.
Scroll down for exercises, audio recordings, scripts, and more ways to practice.
So what is this?
We're glad you asked!
Even for people with strong bilingual abilities, interpreting between two languages can be a challenge if you haven't tried it before. We'll help you practice before the checkup to see if this is a perfect career for you. We created the interpreter playground so you can feel more prepared and confident going into our Language Checkup.
How do I prepare for the Language Checkup?
It may seem intimidating at first, but with some studying and preparation, it’s pretty straightforward. This is where we can help.
Take the time to read through all our tips, instructions, and exercises on this page and the Study Guide that the recruiter emailed to you.
What is Consecutive Interpretation?
At CyraCom, our interpreters perform consecutive interpretation. This means that we wait until the speaker pauses or finishes speaking before beginning the interpretation. This enables interpreters to convey the tone, meaning, and nuances of the original message completely and accurately.
Consecutive interpretation requires listening, memory, and notetaking skills.
Establishing the Basics
Make sure you’re comfortable in your working languages.
Recognize which language is weaker for you and practice speaking and listening exclusively in that language. Watch or listen to media (TV, radio, podcasts, YouTube, movies, etc.) in English and/or your other working language, and repeat as much of the dialogue as possible in the same language as the dialogue. Brush up on any grammar or vocabulary you may be worried about, and ask a native speaker to point out any mistakes you may be unaware of in your speech.
Boost your memory and increase interpretation accuracy
Short-term memory plays a very important role in consecutive interpretation. You will use your short-term memory often to recall and convey information, and it’s critical that you learn how to tap into that skill.
One technique that enhances your short-term memory is visualization. Visualization is when you see everything in your mind, like a mental movie. This enables you to recall what you heard as you “play back” those images.
Another technique that enhances your short-term memory is chunking. Chunking allows you to use your short-term memory more effectively by breaking up the information you receive into smaller segments (i.e. chunks) of related concepts.
For example, if you are interpreting a phone number, it may be helpful to group the phone number into three sections: the area code, the first set of three numbers, and then the last four numbers.
Take notes to help your short-term memory
Interpreters take notes to support their short-term memory. People speak quickly, and sometimes at length. This is why we teach our interpreters to take short notes as they interpret.
As you listen to the speakers, write down numbers, names, and brief reminders to help spark your short-term memory when it’s your turn to interpret.
How to take notes like an interpreter
Use acronyms, abbreviations, arrows, circles, or other symbols to help you emphasize or connect ideas in the original message. Write down only the key information in each sentence, and skip words like “the,” “I,” “to,” “and,” and other unnecessary words that are implied.Practice notetaking
Know your vocab
As you go about your day, think about how you would interpret the vocabulary in the conversations you participate in and hear around you into your other working language.
Make sure you can interpret terms from English into your other working language, and from your other working language into English.See a sample Vocabulary List
Practice, Practice, Practice
Now that we have created a foundation for how to interpret, we’re going to offer you a few ways that you can practice consecutive interpreting and apply what you’ve learned.
Use the audio files to practice on your own. Click play to hear a segment of information; click pause when you hear the beep, then begin your interpretation in the other language.
You’ll want to practice all the scenarios listed. Pick one to start and follow the steps.
Choose your language pair to listen to the recordings:
Use the scripts to practice role-playing with a friend or two.
You’ll want to practice all the scenarios listed below. Pick one to start and follow the steps.
Step 1: Assign your friend(s) to play the roles of the English speaker and non-English speaker. Have your friend read their part(s) (without you seeing the script), and then interpret what they say into the other language. We recommend recording yourself so you can listen to how you did afterwards.
Step 2: Review the script with your friends, and have them give you feedback on the accuracy of your interpretation. Take notes on what you can do to improve your interpretation, and what terminology you need to learn.
Choose your language pair to view scripts
Other ways to practice
- Watch videos or listen to audio and repeat as much of the dialogue as possible in the same language. By repeating information in the same language, you get to practice the same basic skills required for consecutive interpretation.
- Watch videos or listen to audio in one language and interpret into your other working language. Don’t just do it in your head - interpret out loud.
- Watch videos that have specific vocabulary usage, such as medical-focused TV shows, and perform the above exercises.
- You can repeat the above exercises and take notes to practice your notetaking skills. Or, take notes while someone reads you a news article or short story and then tell the story back to them to verify your accuracy.
Overview – How to Be a Successful Interpreter
- Listen attentively and visualize – Create a “mental movie” of what you hear.
- Develop your short-term memory.
- Take short, symbolic notes – Use acronyms, abbreviations, arrows, circles, or other symbols.
- Write down key information – Do not write down every word you hear.
- Interpret the meaning or concept – Restate the meaning of what you hear instead of each individual word.