The language services industry is full of jargon, for example while ‘translation’ is widely understood; interpreting is a term less commonly used. For a quick explanation of the difference, translation is for written content and interpreting for verbal or face to face communication. Within interpreting there are two further distinctions, which leads us onto the meaning of Simultaneous and Consecutive interpreting.

Interpreters work within many different environments, often requiring very specific skills. Simultaneous and Consecutive interpreting relates to the type of verbal communication required for the situation. Should you be asked for your preference, this is how to differentiate between them:

Simultaneous Interpreting

This means the interpreter will be talking at the same time as the in-country speaker. Often used for large conferences and events, delegates requiring an interpretation will listen to the interpreter through a headset. To avoid disrupting the main speaker, the interpreter is usually in a booth or quiet area. They will have a live feed from the speaker and will interpret at almost the same speed. As you can imagine, this work takes intense concentration which is another reason for the interpreter to be placed in a booth. This fast interpretation enables many international delegates to listen to a live speaker at the same time.

Consecutive Interpreting

This method of interpreting is commonly used for smaller appointments and meetings. In this scenario the interpreter is part of the meeting or gathering. They will listen to the speaker and provide the interpretation at a natural pause. If a lot of detail is being shared, the interpreter is required to listen intently to the speaker to transmit the information accurately. They may clarify points with the speaker before they begin. This inevitably uses more time but suits smaller meetings because the interaction is immediate.

Simultaneous and Consecutive interpreting require different interpreter skills, which is why you will be asked for your preference. Should the distinction be unclear for the event or meeting you are planning, simply ask thebigword to make a recommendation for you.