Simultaneous translation – are you suitable for an interpreter?

Simultaneous translation is a translation of the listened speech into a foreign language for the first time. It requires reflexes, high resistance to stress, maximum concentration and divided attention. Good diction is essential not to mislead a listener.

For smooth translation, apart from the translator, appropriate technical facilities are needed. Among others,  soundproof cabin in which resides minimum a two-people team of translators. The speaker usually takes the podium with a microphone, or uses only the microphone. Those involved in the meeting who want to hear translated speech use the receivers and headphones. Translator is the mediator who hears the speaker through headphones and translates live speech to his microphone.

Due to the fact that simultaneous translation requires a perfect attention divisibility and this cannot be maintained all the time, interpreters change every 15 minutes and are working in four-hour blocks.

In case of bilingual meeting, one team of translators is required. When the meeting is translated into more languages, for each language a separate cabin is allocated with two-people team inside.

Can I be a simultaneous translator?

There is an easy way to check if we have the abilities to do this job.

Simply attach headphones and prepare the microphone. Then play the recording and find on the internet a video in a language we know and we want to translate. To check if we are good at this, we have to translate everything live. Of course, we should exclude watching the video before translation or graduation of scrolling unheard fragments. Otherwise, it will not be a simultaneous translation, because this kind of translation is made immediately, without prior preparation.

After finishing the translation we should play the recording and see if it makes sense, is it consistent. Also it is worth to check if the whole translation is spoken too fast or too slow and if there are no gaps.

See also