Top Tips to Master Simultaneous Interpreting

Simultaneous interpreting – a.k.a. the art of orally translating at the same time as someone is speaking. Crucial at conferences and courtrooms, this is likely the most difficult translation skill to master.

Typical translators have a text in front of them and use countless dictionaries and references to provide an accurate text. Simultaneous interpreters, on the other hand, need to listen and translate orally in the next second.

If you want to perfect your simultaneous interpreting skills, here are some tips that might be able to help you out.

  1. Anticipate

Translators aren’t exactly mind readers – but sadly, interpreters have to be. An interpreter has to listen and interpret what the other person is saying – and in this case, the ability to anticipate may come very much in handy.

No one can anticipate right off the bat – but with time, you will get much better at it. Plus, it’s a skill that you can hone even when you are outside of work. Whenever someone is speaking, listen closely to what they are saying – and see if you can anticipate what they are going to say next.

If you are already familiar with the speaker, this can get much easier – but it also depends on how prepared you are on the topic. Before entering a conference or a courtroom, make sure you familiarize yourself with what’s going to be tackled there.

  1. Keep a Sharp Brain

Interpreters don’t have the luxury of zoning off, because if they miss just a single word, they risk not knowing how to interpret the whole thing. Pay close attention to what people are saying and exercise your memory – along with your ability to multitask.

For example, try listening to a speech while you are working on another task – even something as simple as creating your grocery list. Once that is done with, check how much you can remember. It may not be perfect at first, but with time, you will be able to exercise your brain.

  1. Control Your Voice

When you are interpreting, it is crucial that you control the volume of your voice. For instance, if it’s too low, then the people won’t be able to hear you. On the other hand, if it’s too loud, then the original speaker might be overshadowed.

You may be interpreting, but people also need to hear the speaker as well. This way, they will know from their tone whether the speaker is agitated, relaxed, or intense – which can be very important while delivering a speech.

Use a manner of speaking that makes you comfortable – just as long as it’s not too loud or too low. In most cases, practice makes perfect, so it might not hurt to randomly interpret a foreign movie scene every now and again.

  1. Keep Calm

This may be a given, but we can’t repeat this enough times: no matter what the speaker may be saying, you should keep your calm. They may start shouting, speaking too fast, or talking about something that you do not agree with; however, you must remember that your job is to interpret, not to judge.

Stay focused and try to provide a translation that is as accurate as possible. You don’t have to translate it word by word; you just have to deliver the main message, hanging on to the important details.

Still, you might not want to skip whole sentences, just because you don’t feel they are really that important. The speaker added it into the speech for a reason, so cutting off important parts might be seen as a sign of disrespect – and may even cause the people to misinterpret their message.

If the speaker goes on a tangent, don’t let it frustrate you or interrupt your flow. You’ll just be falling behind for no reason, in a circumstance which you could normally easily control.

  1. Understand the Culture

Sure, it’s important to understand the language – but when it comes to interpreting, understanding the culture is just as important. Each culture has its own particular phrases which only their people would understand – so make sure that you are prepared for what’s to come.

If you are studying to become an interpreter, the chances are that you are already interested in language and culture – so this might actually be a fun challenge for you. Look up all the colloquial phrases before your interpreting session, and make sure that your interpretation is as accurate as possible.

Final Thoughts

Being an interpreter can be a lot of work – but at the same time, it is also something that will keep your brain active. It won’t be easy to master the skills; however, with time, you should be able to do it flawlessly. You’ll need a decent amount of practice and a sharp mind – but with this, you’ll be able to deliver the perfect interpretation.

6 Ways to Properly Collaborate with Your Translator

Translation is a two-way process. Indeed, most of it falls on the translator – who has to provide the actual translation of the text. However, there are certain things that have to be respected by the client as well. In this domain, collaboration is key if you want the final product to be of the highest quality.

Still, sometimes, collaborating with your translator can be rather difficult – particularly if you are a first-time client. Those who are new to translation might not understand how the process works – and how important the role of the client is.

Regardless if you are collaborating with an independent translator or an agency, here are some tips to make sure the final result is a success.

  1. Submit the Correct and Final Documentation

When a translator receives a text, that text generally goes through a certain process: first translation by the actual translator, followed by the proofreading and editing by the editor. This is to ensure that the final product is top quality.

Now imagine what would happen if you gave a document to your translator, and right before the deadline, you show up with additional changes to the text. An “Oops, can you add this too?” might not make things very easy for your translator – mainly because they would have to start the process all over again. This will take time – which they would normally put to better use on another task.

Plus, these changes will not be good for you either. By coming with last-minute changes, you’ll be extending your deadline – which will not help you at all if you need those papers fast.

Sending the final version of the documentation is the most important part of collaborating with your translator. It will ensure that everything goes smoothly, without any delays.

  1. Understand the Costs

When it comes to translations, the costs are based on the document word count along with the time it takes to do a certain task. This means that things such as last0-minute edits or design changes are not covered by the initial costs.

As mentioned in the point above, each of these changes takes extra time – and we all know that time is money. When you come up with additional demands, you have to be prepared for extra charges.

To avoid these extra costs, you may want to provide the correct documentation from the very beginning. Furthermore, if you have questions about the whole process and its costs, do your best to address them from the very beginning. This will prevent any surprises from coming along the way.

  1. Be Active in the Translation Process

The translator may be familiar with the topic at hand, but the client will always know their product best. Make sure that you are always available to answer any potential questions your translator has. If you do this, not only will the process go smoothly without any delays, but it will also ensure that the final product is of the highest quality.

  1. Provide Reference Material

As part of collaborating with your translator, you need to ensure that they have everything they need to provide a high-quality document. Many clients seem to think that translators are gods that know everything by heart – but some brands may have a specific terminology that a translator may not know about.

Therefore, if you have glossaries and reference materials, do not hold it for yourself. By all means, share it with them. They will definitely appreciate it and use it to create the perfect translation.

  1. Respect the Set Deadline

Whenever a translator receives a document and a deadline, they work their schedule to properly work on your paper while also dealing with other tasks. This schedule involves time for proper writing, time for researching – and every respectable translator will allocate a certain time per day to work on your paper before sending it to editing.

This means that if you go ahead and change the deadline, asking for it to be delivered sooner, you will disrupt the entire process. Indeed, the project manager will do their best to deliver your document when you want it – but you have to be aware that you’ll be rushing it and putting stress on the team.

Since you’ll be cutting from their time, the quality of the final result may be compromised.

  1. Provide Feedback

Never underestimate the power of feedback – regardless if it’s positive or negative. This will help the translator properly understand the needs of their clients – and also improve their skill if there’s something that needs particular attention.

Final Thoughts

Translation is, in every way possible, a collaboration between the client and the translation agency. By working together, you will ensure that the final product is of the highest quality, without any “surprises” along the way.

Tips for Surviving Your First Mistake in a Translation Agency

Nobody is perfect – and at some point, everyone will make a mistake. The only question is “when?” Even professionals are not safe – but the thing about mistakes is that they help you learn. It’s important that you accept these mistakes, take responsibility for them – and use them as a stepping stone towards being a more successful person.

Still, there’s more than saying “I’m sorry, moving on” behind such a mistake. In order to protect your job as a translator in a certain agency, there are certain steps that you need to follow. This guide will help you through your first mistake so that you can be safe, learn from it, and then move on.

  • Letting the Client Know Right Away

Some people prefer going by the “If I don’t say anything, maybe they won’t notice” method. If you’re lucky and no one notices, then you’ve lucked out; you just have to be careful that it never happens again.

However, this may also go the other way, with the client finding out by themselves – or from other sources – that there is an error in the text you have translated for them. The next step would be them coming at your agency, roaring thunders and lightning, threatening they are going to sue.

To prevent this from happening, you might want to take some initiative. If by any chance you realize the mistake before the client does, do not hope for a miracle and pretend the mistake does not exist. Instead, make sure that you contact the customer right away, giving them notice (hopefully) before they use those documents.

If you do this, the client will also hopefully see that you are an honest person – one who places the interests of the client over their own.

There’s no guarantee that you won’t have to suffer from this mistake – but taking this initiative might just soften the blow. This way, you might get away with just a warning instead of being fired.

  • Explain Yourself – Not Excuse Yourself

There’s a very big difference between explaining what happened and making excuses for yourself. People choose translation agencies over freelancers for this exact reason – simply because they expect transparency at all points.

A client is more willing to trust an honest translator that brings all cards to the table rather than one that seems picture perfect – but also seems to be hiding something. Most people have an eye for these kinds of people.

Start by explaining why this mistake happened – but don’t make it sound like you are looking for excuses. If you’re trying to put all the blame on external factors, this might not sit well with the customer.

Instead, put your hands up (in a manner of speaking), admit it was your mistake, but also make them see that you learned from it. Show them that you can move forward with this mistake and use it as a stepping stone.

How well this explanation will be accepted, it will all depend on the severity of the mistake. Obviously, if you compromised the work of your client, it’s clear that they might have a bone to pick with you afterward.

However, if you do manage to show them that you’ve learned from your mistake, they will obviously appreciate your honesty. This way, there’s a high chance that this client will use your agency again in the future.

  • Offer to Fix Things

You’re working for a translation agency now, so your mistake is the entire company’s mistake. Unless you “clean” the black spot on the image, it will stay dirty and compromise the reputation of the company.

Obviously, this does not only mean that you have to fix the text you messed up. You will actually be expected to do that, considering they paid your agency to get the correct text.

Instead of just fixing things on the spot, you might also want to fix them on the long run; fix the relationship, not just the text. If the customer is still not happy, offer them a discount for their next order – or even throw some freebies in the mix.

Offering your services completely free of charge might not be the ideal scenario for you; however, if you risk losing a potential customer, it might save you hassle and money in the long run.

Instead of thinking of it as wasted time, think of it as an investment for the future. If the client leaves unhappily, then there’s no way they’ll be using your agency again. Furthermore, there is also a high chance that word will spread, placing a big dirty spot on the company. You don’t want a mistake like this to hit the breaks on your career.

Final Thoughts

Mistakes are always bound to happen; that’s how we actually learn and become better about our job. But remember that every mistake you make will reflect on the agency that you are working for.

If you follow these tips, you may be able to prevent a small mistake from growing into a full-blown disaster.