Maksud Mirjanov and Nadira Abdurakhmannova
It goes without saying that operational memory able to keep a good amount of information is indispensable for consecutive interpreters. Different mnemonic exercises regularly practiced during our classes at TCI UWED help us train ourselves to expand the capacity of this faculty. One of the most efficient and interesting mnemonic exercises, in our view, is so called Growing Snowball (GSB). We’d like to share with you the way we do it.
GSB is best to do by a group of 6-9 students. One of the students reads a handpicked English text sentence by sentence to the rest of the group. One by one students interpret sentences separately allotted to every member of the group, without taking notes, of course . Before interpreting a sentence given by a presenter to a student s/he has to repeat sentences previously translated by his/her classmates. Thus, if the number of practicing students is equal to nine, it means that each interpreted sentence is repeated eight times. It is only natural that each student repeating the ideas of previously translated sentences tries to improve the quality of the text under interpreting. As you see, the size of the interpreted text gradually grows like a snowball rolling down the slope covered by snow.
While doing this exercise it is important to memorize the right order of ideas and reproduce afore-coming messages with a good deal of accuracy. Students are supposed not only to memorize what had been interpreted by their classmates before them, but also develop their ability to build the logical chain of the discourse based on the right order of ideas. Multiple reiteration of the messages gives students a chance to iron down existing drawbacks like omissions, distortions and additions inherent to beginning interpreters. Presentation of individual versions of interpreted passages goes without breaking the train of delivery which helps us to control the overall fluency of interpreting. It means that practicing GSB improves our oratorical skills a lot: we learn to correctly use various elements of prosody like correct distribution of logical stress, keeping the pace of presentation, making pauses etc.
We have also noticed that regular practice of this exercise develops our ability to recall “in a flash” omitted parts of the text by getting only a small hint from a classmate: a word or even a gesture. We assume that perfection of this ability is important for us due to its certain connection with the quick uptake of the gist of an idea to be jot down to a writing pad in the course of note taking, i.e. it teaches us to define the rheme of the discourse which also helps interpreters to code essential parts of the speech to be decoded while reading back their notes.
In the course of interpreting local graduates of Russian schools have problems with Uzbek and vice versa. With a view to improve this situation, one of our classmates suggested to interpret the English text into Russian or Uzbek in accordance with the A language of the participant. Unexpectedly, this modification has turned out to be very interesting and useful for us. Now we have a chance not only to improve our command of English but also Uzbek and Russian languages which is so important for the job. It goes without saying that this exercise also helps students’ ability to quickly switch from one language into another.
It should also be mentioned that while selecting the texts for GSB we proceed from the assumption that the materials of the exercise should help expand our background knowledge too. The final part of GSB which falls on the shoulders of the last students in the queue becomes really difficult. Students have to reproduce the whole text switching several times from one language into another. When the exercise is finally finished we all feel s-o-o-o high as if we achieved something unbelievable. And it is certainly an achievement for it increases our confidence and helps us to adapt to challenges of the work of the conference interpreter.