simultaneous interpretation

What is Simultaneous Interpretation?

Simultaneous interpretation is a popular method of interpreting that differs from that of consecutive interpretation. Simultaneous interpreters convert what is said in real-time. There are no pauses in conversation. This type of interpretation is suited for large-scale events and situations where a pause in conversation is not beneficial.

For example, in 2016 tropical storm Hurricane Matthew wreaked havoc in the Caribbean as it made its way north towards the Florida coastline. In Miami, simultaneous interpreters were used during press conferences to convey safety information to the public in American Sign Language.In this situation, consecutive interpretation is not ideal because the message needed to be delivered in real-time without delay.

Simultaneous Interpretation is Best-Fit For:
  • Large Conventions
  • Live Television Broadcasts
  • Voice Overs (for documentaries, movies, audio recordings)
  • Board Meetings
  • Classroom Lectures
  • Guided Tours
  • Religious Functions
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During simultaneous interpretation appointments, often times interpreters are equipped with headphones and other devices to help them interpret. The headphones block out background noise and other environmental factors that can cause distraction. For large conferences or events like the Olympics, these interpreters will have a microphone so the message is communicated to a large group of people at once.


When Simultaneous Interpreting is NOT Ideal…

Simultaneous interpreting is not ideal for face-to-face conversations. Due to the real-time conversion, this method should only be used for large events or situations where a conversation is not necessary. These situations include:

  • Employee Training
  • Physical Therapy Appointments
  • Depositions
  • Interviews
  • Government Appointments (Social Security, Unemployment, Housing, etc.)

*The situations listed above are suited for consecutive interpretation. This is because the consecutive method enables a flow of conversation between two or more people.


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