UWED TCI, 2014
My dear friends who dream about becoming an interpreter and who are taking their first steps towards the world of interpreting. I’d like to share with you my own impressions and personal experience of entering into an amazing and magical world of interpreting. Maybe you’ll wonder why I’m calling it magical. Believe me it is magical indeed and I have plenty of proofs of my view point.
First of all, this world has a lot of magic tricks. Once you enter this world, then you’ll never be the same, as before. Like a magician who with the help of his wand turns Cinderella from an ordinary girl into a beautiful princess, the world of interpreting takes one person and transforms him into several different kinds of people. When you’re taking your first step into the world of interpreting you, probably, won’t have any idea that you are going to turn not only into an interpreter, but also into a politician, a diplomat, a linguist, a businessman, a historian, a geographer and a public speaker as well.
I should say that for me TCI UWED is that kind of magical world which opens its doors to students and invites them to the journey around the world of interpreting. Well, I stepped into TCI when I was the 2nd year student of UWED and telling the truth this “wonder world” helped me a lot, I learned and continue learning lots of useful things during the classes we have.
I should tell you that in the course of our training at TCI UWED we have different kinds of small projects like pat phrases, the map, different glossaries which make our classes more interesting and fruitful. As for me, I am responsible for the small project which is called “Public speaking”. My task is to help my group mates and myself to learn and gain main skills of speaking in public. As the manager of this small project and as the student who has some experience in this field I would like to tell you about the importance of acquiring public speaking skills for interpreters.
Frankly speaking, in the very beginning I had no any idea of how these two activities – public speaking and interpretation correlate, and perhaps not only I had this problem. However, within one and a half year of studies at TCI we, the 3rd year students, came to the following conclusions.
First and foremost, I would like to dwell on one of my initial experiences. At the very beginning when we were the 2nd year students we tried mostly to interpret what we heard, we just translated mechanically, in other words we just parroted the speech of the speaker without real comprehension. Most of us were sure that the best interpreter is the person who follows the direct order of translation and gives word for word translation, relying on his memory. But it turned out that we were wrong. Because only now we see that interpreter’s main task is to catch the main idea of a sentence and decode it. There is no need for interpreting the whole speech word for word, besides it’s simply impossible. Actually, what we are doing now at our classes is not a translation per se. We are trying to catch the main idea and then decode the message. Well, of course you can try to interpret word for word, but believe me; you’ll be lost in the world of words. Even if you cope with the task, there’ll be a slight misinterpretation of the main message of the sentence. Try it out, and you’ll see that what I say is true.
Another important thing is that only in the 3rd year we understood the importance of readymade units, so called pat phrases. Before studying at TCI we considered these pat phrases the units for enriching our vocabulary, now we use them while interpreting in order to win extra time and to make our speech more comprehensible to the audience. If you keep in your stock a good number of readymade pat phrases, these word combinations will go automatically while you interpret and you may even wonder how you could use them without sparing much time and extra effort.
In the course of our training we found that people who are starting interpreting make mistakes connected with syntax, grammar, pronunciation, logical stress, mistakes on speech structure (introduction, body, and conclusion), logical order of delivery, vocal pauses, self-corrections and so on. Well, let me explain how we deal with our problems.
Firstly, if you have phonetic mistakes, you should (actually must) become friends with dictionaries and listen to pronunciation of each word (no matter whether it is unknown or not), this is the way we try to reduce our mistakes.
Secondly, I think lots of us don’t appear confident when we come to the stage, you can see it when we start to betray ourselves by showing our emotions. So, in order to look confident, you must learn the way of pulling yourself together. We also are advised not to“overplay”.
Thirdly, in most cases the reason for giving unsuccessful speech is the lack of rehearsal. People must always practise as Stephen Keague says proper planning and preparation prevents poor performance and thus makes your speech perfect. So, practise your speech at home or in class in front of your group mates.
I’d like to offer you to try out one of my favourite exercise so called “Shadowing”. It’s very useful and can greatly help you to improve your public speaking skills. Well, what must you do?! First of all, turn the news TV channel on, try to concentrate on what you hear and as soon as the announcer begins the speech try to listen to and at the same time repeat his/her words. It helps you to split up your attention within seconds, to concentrate for better perception of information and, of course, to increase your speed. If you do it regularly then you’ll see positive results when you start simultaneous interpreting. By then you will have worked out a definite mechanism of listening and interpreting at the same time.
Fourthly, there are times when interpreter isn’t able to recall or say anything. It is called “freezing up” or “developing mental blocks”. Well, it usually happens due to excitement when you come to the stage and face a big number of people. In such kind of situations it’s better to try to pull yourself together and concentrate on your speech. But you can avoid this kind of situation and the best way for this is, as I mentioned above, to practise regularly.
By the way, in the course of our trainings we learned that unknown and unfamiliar words, I mean things that our audience may not know, including abbreviations and acronyms, can lead to the failure of comprehension of the whole information which is being delivered. That’s why be careful while using them and if it’s not generally used word try to replace it by commonly used one.
Overall, in the course of our studies we understood that public speaking skills are of paramount importance for would be interpreters. In order to improve our public speaking skills we usually try to do different kind of exercises. When we do them we always try to behave as if we are interpreting at formal occasions.
Moreover, our students like to take every opportunity to exercise their public speaking skills in different kinds of conferences and cultural events.
Public speaking skill is one of the most important factors which actually determines the quality of interpretation. I urge you all to pay serious attention to the skill in question and the result won’t make you to wait long. Good luck!