What does a consecutive interpreter do?

Published on 05/09/2022

A good translation company has several multidisciplinary profiles that carry out very different tasks. At AbroadLinkwe don’t only have simultaneous interpreters, but also consecutive interpreters. The consecutive type tend to be less well known, so today we will take a closer look at them and find out exactly what their professional work consists of.

1. Translating the speech for the whole audience to understand it

Put yourself in the situation: a medical eminence goes to a foreign country to give a lecture. However, he speaks a language that the attending audience does not speak. In this situation, the role of the consecutive interpreter becomes very necessary.

Basically, their job consists in listening to the speaker's speech. During the speech the consecutive interpreter takes notes, which are then being used to translate the most important things that have been said. This way, one hundred percent of the audience is able to internalise the relevant concepts covered by the speaker.

2. The first step is to listen and analyse

The first thing the consecutive interpreter does is to listen very carefully to what the speaker says. In order for the subsequent translation task to be carried out with better results, the interpreter has to analyse the contents simultaneously. This first step can be summarised as active listening.

3. Structured notes are essential to do a good job

As the consecutive interpreter listens to and analyses the speech, he or she also organises it in the form of notes. In the past, the typical notepad or notebook and pen were very common for this purpose. However, technological advancements and environmental awareness have led to a proliferation in the use of electronic devices like tablets.

Regardless of whether physical or digital format is used, the notes are always need to be taken very quickly. To structure the speech is the key, as it will allow an orderly recall of everything that has been mentioned throughout the discourse. In this way, the consecutive interpreter will be able to translate it without forgetting any important concepts.

It is worth noting that some very experienced and talented consecutive interpreters are able to do their work without the need to take notes. However, in most cases note taking is used to obtain more accurate results.

In any case, when a translator in a translation agency starts to gain experience in the field of consecutive interpreting, he or she starts his or her activity without taking notes. This helps to stimulate their capacity for memorisation to the maximum, introducing later on the annotations, for which they also need great organizational skills.

4. Fluency in both languages is essential to reproduce speech correctly

Finally, the last step that takes place in a consecutive interpretation is to reproduce the discourse. Some speakers are already used to dealing with professional interpreters and make their work easier by e. g. making breaks from time to time. No matter how many notes someone takes, it is not easy to translate and reproduce an one-hour speech.

In any case, it’s indispensable for a consecutive interpreter to have a good command of both languages. At AbroadLink our translators and interpreters are natives of their work languages, for which you can trust in our services. Thanks to their extensive knowledge, experience and the use of idiomatic language, they are always able to deliver high-quality results.

The useful notes taken (as described in the previous step) are ideal for reproducing the speech. Language skills enable them to perform their task fluently, without unnecessary pauses, while respecting the original content one hundred percent. All important content is rephrased in another language with accuracy and precision.

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Virginia Pacheco's picture
Virginia Pacheco

Blog writer and Community Manager interested in multiculturality and linguistic diversity. From her native Venuzuela, she has travelled and lived for many years in France, Germany, Cameroon and Spain, passing on her passion for writing and her intercultural experiences.

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