UWED TCI, 2014
Importance of Exercises in Interpretation Courses
The role of an interpreter in communicative process is not just simply converting one language into another. It goes much further. The role of an interpreter is to bridge the gap between the representatives of different languages, cultures and nationalities, to create mutual understanding of facts and what’s being communicated between the parties. An interpreter must understand much more than just a second language. And there are some special skills and techniques interpreter should acquire in order to succeed in this profession. I remember our first endeavor to interpret at TCI in the course of a class. It was consecutive interpreting. All our concepts and ideas about interpretation were ruined. We thought it was enough to know English well to interpret, but when we tried it for the first time, it turned out so difficult, that some of us gave up. But the will and diligence can do a lot. Our dearest teacher and some famous books, authors of which became close to us, showed us the way to gain the skills an interpreter needs so much. Special exercises for interpreters are an important part of the training. Without them it’s very difficult to learn to interpret. We took a lot of them. Most of them are ones recommended by famous interpreter M. Beloruchev. Here, I’ll tell you about some of them, which helped our students, including me, a lot. The aim of each exercise is different and I divide all the exercises into 4 groups:
- Exercises devoted to text analysis and building vocabulary
- Exercises aimed at developing memory
- Exercises directed at advancing delivery skills
- Practicing interpretation exercises.
The golden rule for an interpreter is to deliver the idea, not the words. In order to do so, first of all, the interpreter should understand what he or she is speaking about and should be able to analyze the speech being interpreted. The exercises of the first group help to develop this ability. These are:
- Deleting redundancies (you take some text and cross out all the words which you consider excessive, in fact you should try to delete as many words as possible, but the meaning should remain there)
- Synonymic replacement ( replace as many words in the text with their synonyms as you can)
- Reformulation (the next stage of synonymic replacement: now you fully remake the sentence, using synonyms, different constructions, you may divide complex/compound sentences into several parts and so on)
An interpreter should be able not only to interpret the speech, but speak in a manner of an orator, as if he himself is delivering the speech. In order to do this he or she should master good delivery skills. Some of the exercises we carry out are directed at developing those skills. These include presenting an improvised text (students are given one word and build a speech, based on this word, within 2,3 minutes and present it) and shadowing (students listen to the recorded speech or audio piece of news and repeat it at the same time. Shadowing improves pronunciation, helps to keep the pace of speech delivery, improves speaking skills, develops the ability to listen and speak at the same time).
An interpreter must have a good memory as well as other listed abilities. And some exercises help also to improve the memory. “Snowball” can be a good example. A teacher reads a passage, students only listen to it. When the first paragraph is finished, one of the students interpret it into the target language. The teacher goes on reading. Second student interpret first and second paragraphs and so on.
Last, but not least group of exercises is named “Practicing interpretation exercises”. They consist of:
- Sight translation (a student reads a text from the source language into the target language, interpreting simultaneously)
- Exercises on precision words (the teacher reads numbers, dates, names of people, places, days of the week or names of the months quite fast. Students must be able to write them down and then, reproduce them in the right order. An exercise helps to learn to save precision information and be able to reproduce it)
- Audition (students listen to the recorded text and try to take notes, and then interpret. There is so called complicated audition or split attention exercise. Students listen to the recorded text (or a teacher reads a text) simultaneously counting aloud and taking notes at the same time. This type of audition helps to improve concentration as well)
These are the main exercises we carry out. There are many others as well. In my opinion, dividing these exercises into groups helps students to define and improve their weak sides. In order to succeed, one should forget idleness and work hard, it is extremely important to practice regularly. As our great ancestor Abu Rayhan Beruni said: “The knowledge is the result of studying and repeating.” So, study, exercise, practice regularly and achieve best results. I wish you every success in your endeavors!