“Advice to Beginning Interpreter” or “How not to Fail”

The highest achievement for a translator showing his professional skills is simultaneous interpretation. The following advice is useful for those, who do such job. They were used in work more than once and it is reasonable to use them.

So, the first and one of the main rules is to talk. Even the experienced interpreters may have problems with translation, especially when a speaker presents his speech using a foreign language. Obviously, interpreter’s one of the main requirements is precision, but it is not one that easy to reach. If you take all the materials in advance, you will easily cope with such situations. But if it is not possible or haven’t been done by any reason, you can tell general phrases about organizers and thank them for invitation, etc.

Another difficulty is speaker’s fast speech. A lot of orators, being nervous or impulsive, start to speak too fast, which hampers interpreting. You should maintain your position. If the orator increases the speech speed, decrease the speed of interpreting. Following you the speaker will also slow down and that’s what you need.


Don’t be upset if the correction to a translation was made. Sometimes the audience may know the language and better know special terms. Try to appreciate the constructive criticism (if it is really so) and continue to interpret considering the correction. If the interpreter doesn’t agree with the correction (it is also possible to happen), he should clearly prove his position. In most cases it is better to consider the correction, especially if the report refers to a subject which the interpreter is not an expert in. Sometimes the reporter doesn’t agree with the official translation and himself suggests a variant. Do not implicitly agree with him. First of all, you need to defend your own point of view.

If nobody prompts you the troublesome term, you can use a Latinism. That way the term may sound more familiar to the audience, working in that sphere. Anyway it will be better than awkward silence.

First of all, you need to translate the main sentence. Don’t spread the auxiliary part too much, because it may result in complex and unintelligible phrase.

A lot of numbers may also cause difficulties, so it is better to name some figures, say “so on”. In case the numbers are very important to the listeners they can find them later in additional materials, if not they will be glad to avoid extra information.

To evade different mistakes it is better to get acquainted to a reporter in advance, so that you can estimate the level of difficulty of the task, including orator’s speed of the speech, presence of special terms in his report. The optimal variant is to take the printed copy of the report. In that case, the interpreter can just sight-read the report, not mention the orator getting off the point. The most important is to end your speech synchronously with the orator or some questions can arise.

Simultaneous interpreter’s face and posture must be calm and confident. Thus, the audience starts to trust that interpretation will be of a high quality and reliable.

To interpret from the stage you need to improve your eloquence skills. A lot of people know that to perform in front of a big audience is very hard and not everyone can boast of being good at speaking.

Instead of such rubbish words as “sort of”, “it means” and so on, it’s better to use “base on circumstances”, “in my opinion”. Extended phrases not only help to make your speech more intelligence, but also help to disguise the pause or hitch.

And the main advice for the beginners: do not to be afraid of asking something you don’t understand once again, don’t be afraid to make a mistake. Self-confidence passes on to the audience and makes them friendly. A translator always faltering and looking embarrassed can hardly achieve any success.

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