Back to school, back to the interpreting textbooks (but this time, with a twist!)

Yes, the Interpreter Diaries blog has been dormant of late, but I still contribute the occasional article for the blogs run by AIB (where I am a partner) and AIIC (my professional association). My latest offering, over at the AIB blog, is a review of Andrew Gillies’ excellent textbook Note-Taking for Conference Interpreting: A Short Course, which has recently been released in a second edition. Whether you are a student of interpreting, an interpreter trainer, or just someone who has been wondering how to improve your note-taking skills, I encourage you to go check it out!

Back to school, back to the interpreting textbooks (but this time, with a twist!)
– book review on the AIB blog

Spare a Thought for Your Interpreting Teacher (Part 1 – Consecutive)

Teaching consecutive interpreting technique is hard. If you think mastering the art of note-taking is a challenge, try teaching it sometime!

I think that part of the challenge of teaching consecutive note-taking is that there is no single “right” way to do things. Some ground rules do exist, of course (see Rozan’s seven principles as a starting point), but ultimately every interpreter will develop his own way to take notes, and – here’s the rub for the teacher – whichever route that takes the student to the final goal must be considered valid. It’s not about leading students down the high road, the low road, the garden path, or even the road less travelled. It’s about helping them explore the terrain until they discover their own personal route to where they need to go.

Country road, take me home ...

Another challenge to the teacher lies in the fact that each student will face different obstacles on the way. If a teacher is to be able to address an obstacle effectively, she first must identify what it is. In the case of consecutive interpreting, this is not always obvious at first glance.

Some students will struggle with comprehension or analysis, others will find they have a hard time getting the ideas reflected on the page, and yet others will suffer with reformulating and presentation. Yet the student’s actual performance in class might not reveal exactly where the process is breaking down. So teachers have to be constantly investigating, asking questions, guessing and second-guessing, and proposing different solutions – and this in an individualised manner, for up to 12 students at a time.

Now, I’m not looking for anyone’s pity, here. The reason why I ask you to spare a thought for your poor consecutive interpreting teacher is that I think that an exploration of the difficulties related to teaching note-taking can ultimately offer valuable insight to those who are learning the technique. To illustrate this, I am going to share with you an exercise I did with my students at a recent seminar.

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Videos on Interpreting: The Masters Series

I’d love to write a post introducing the interpreting profession to newcomers, another looking at the basics of consecutive note-taking, and a third giving tips to students starting out in the booth – but why bother, when there are three excellent videos already out there covering precisely those topics?

I’m referring of course to the videos done by Dick Fleming, conference interpreter and trainer, for Lourdes de Rioja, producer of the Lourdesaib channel on Youtube.  I don’t believe either of these individuals requires an introduction, but just in case there is somebody out there who hasn’t heard of them yet, allow me to do the honours.

Dick Fleming is a former staff interpreter with the European Commission’s DG Interpretation (DG SCIC) and was the organiser of the Commission’s in-house interpreter training course (“stage”) that produced so many excellent interpreters in the years that it was running. He has been involved for many years now in training for trainers as well.

Lourdes de Rioja is a freelance conference interpreter for the European Insitutions and a Key Trainer at interpreting schools in Denmark and Spain. In her spare time (!) she also produces videos on the interpreting profession, which she shares on her Youtube channel and which have proven a big hit amongst the interpreting community (by the way, this channel just got a facelift, so if you haven’t visited it recently, I recommend you check out its new look).

What I want to share with you today is a series of videos that Lourdes and Dick produced together. Many of you will have already seen them, or at least one or two, but I thought it would be useful to bring the three videos together in a single place, for anyone who might have missed out.

The first video in the series, “The eloquent detective”, looks at the interpreting profession in general terms, and draws some interesting parallels between the work of the interpreter and detective work.

The second video, “Consecutive note-taking”, looks at how best to avoid the potential pit-falls of poor note-taking.

By the way, that video has been selected as the basis for discussion at the upcoming Interpreting Journal Club chat on consecutive interpreting. The title for the chat is “Consecutive is dead! Long live consecutive?” and if you have any views about the future (or lack thereof) of the consecutive mode of interpretation, you’re welcome to join the chat tomorrow (more details here).

The third and final video, “Starting simultaneous interpreting”, offers some basic tips to students just starting out in the booth. This was the topic of the training session Dick held with my students in La Laguna this week, and is also related to the Training for Trainers seminar he ran for the ULL’s trainers on Tuesday, which looked at techniques for teaching simultaneous (very useful seminar, it was – I’m still digesting all the information!).

So there you have it, my “Masters Series” of videos on interpreting. Enjoy!

There’s a long weekend starting now in Spain, so I’ll be tuning out for a few days, but I’ll be back soon enough with more interpreter training fun…