Consecutive Interpreting

Consecutive Interpreting Content

Consecutive interpreting is the practice of listening to a block of speech in the source language and then repeating what has been said in the target language.

The speaker will say a few sentences and pause, the interpreter then repeats what has been said almost as though they are themselves presenting the content.

Although this may seem straightforward it is a highly developed expertise that takes years to properly master. It is not enough simply to have an excellent grasp of two or more languages.

There are a series of skills that the interpreter has to master to complete the three stages of consecutive interpretation.

Active listening

Interpreters don’t listen to a speech or presentation in the same way as attendee might. Instead, they are actively listening to divine the meaning and spirit of the words.

Whilst the delegates may be listening to react or take part in a conversation, the interpreters are laying the groundwork for the actual interpretation.

Structured note taking

The interpreter will take notes at the same time as actively listening to the speaker.

It may seem that they are just noting down the words used so that they don’t forget them but actually it is much more structured than that.

The interpreter notes down the information contained in the speech, identifying the points that are of primary and secondary importance.

In this way, they are able to focus on the main point that the speaker is making when they come to relay the information.


The interpreter will then relay the information to the delegates in the target language.

Linguistic structures vary between languages, often by quite a margin and so the interpreter will be looking to ensure that the true meaning and intent of the sentences still shines through.

They will need to transfer idioms and figures of speech into the target language, using similar methods or omitting entirely if need be.

And whilst the materiel they are interpreting isn’t theirs, they will still need to impart some of the emotion and spirit contained in the original.

Remember that they will need to do this in seconds and be ready to move on to the next block of speech immediately.

As you can imagine, this takes skill and experience and our specialist consecutive interpreters are all used to the demands of the form.

We have a wide range of interpreters who are all able to carry out this type of work and we can provide linguists for over 150 languages.

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