Thoughts on Interpreting: Deliberate Practice

I’ve been thinking more about the topic of “practicing” since my last post. Some of my readers responded that for interpreters, only practice with headsets is considered actual practice, and keeping up with literature, celebrity blogs, or newspapers in the target language cannot be categorized as such.

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credit: shendywu.com

I disagreed with this statement a few months ago, but the more I think about it, the more sense it makes. For Elisabet Tiselius, practice is deliberate and intentional, it is an act with a specific goal in mind. Reading and radio listening can  help us stay familiar with the language and its usage and thus can be considered as part of our effort to keep up with our language skills, but it cannot replace practice for gaining interpreting skills.

On top of acquiring and retaining terminology, interpreting requires attentive listening and comprehension skills. Although this doesn’t sound too difficult, consecutive interpreting also requires good note-taking skills and simultaneous interpreting requires analytical and multitasking skills. Actual practice is the only way we can train our brains to listen, analyze, and extract the information into its target language all at the same time. You cannot acquire these skills by studying theory at your desk. You need practice.

Knowing the technique of interpreting isn’t enough to be a good interpreter. Practice is what will take you to where you want to be. With practice, you’ll become used to the modes of interpreting, and it will become natural and more fluid.

Good luck, and happy interpreting!