Certified Spanish Translator and Interpreter  

The Interpretator

How to prepare for your first simultaneous interpreting assignment

Posted by rpospina on August 4, 2014 at 12:25 PM

I'd like to share with my fellow interpreters a number of tips that other professionals kindly provided when I was preparing for my first simultaneous interpreting assignment. To recap the basics, simultaneous interpreting requires the interpreter to render what the speaker is saying in language “X” into language “Y”, while the speech is taking place (hence the name simultaneous):

 Become familiar with the terminology. Read.


  • Ask for the draft of the speech, talking points, presentation slides, program or any kind of information you can get in advance about the event.
  • Study this material and visit the websites related to the event's subject. 
  • Create a list of specific terms and pay special attention to names, titles, locations and acronyms (along with their translation, of course) 


 Once you've learned the terminology, practice.


  • Start with video/audio of subjects that you are familiar with and that have subtitles (for example, your favorite TV show in the source language); play the show and start interpreting simultaneously with the help of the subtitles or closed caption.
  • Once you feel comfortable doing this, start practicing without the subtitles and record yourself. You'll be able to hear the quality of your renditions and the sound of your voice.
  • You should then move on to practice with video/audio related to the subject of your assignment. YouTube and the Itunes Podcasts are a great source for that. Record yourself again and make the necessary corrections.
  • Lastly, search online for any information that you can find about the speakers; if you're lucky, you may even find a video/audio so that you can become familiar with their tone of voice, accent, etc.

Obtain information about the equipment and interpreter's set-up.


  • Ask the company for the brand/model of the equipment that you will use and research it. Some companies may send you the equipment by mail, if so, you'll get a chance to try it out beforehand.
  • Find out if you will be in a booth, table, conference room, etc. that way you can plan ahead and prepare accordingly (you'll know if you can bring your laptop or tablet, how should you dress up, even the size of your notepad will need to be planned in advanced based on this information).


A few words of advice:


  • DO NOT practice with the news broadcast on the TV.
  • Focus on the quality of your renditions and not the quantity.
  • Don't try to speak too fast or too loud to overcompensate if you feel you are falling behind.
  • Stay calm and focus.



Categories: Interpreting, Tips, How to's

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