UWED TCI , 2015
What is note-taking? Probably, even a schoolboy can answer that it is a process of taking notes while somebody is delivering a speech. I thought that it meant writing abbreviated sentences down. But when I began attending interpreting classes at TCI, I realized that I had been completely wrong. It turned out that it was not only “writing something down”, but also the whole system of rules, symbols, abbreviations which one should know very well in order to be an interpreter.
At the beginning of my study, I tried to note down every single word which I heard and as a result I used to lose important ideas of the speech again and again. It was really hard for me to analyze and identify the core message of the speech and to be able to note it down at the same time. I used to waste my time writing too many words, repetitions, information of secondary or of no importance. As a result, I managed to note down only few sentences of the whole speech. But another problem was that I couldn’t read back my own notes. My handwriting was illegible as I wrote too fast in order not to lose the content. And all of these things effected my interpreting in a bad way.
The main reason of my failure in note-taking was lack of knowledge. I had a very vague idea how to do it well. I even didn’t know simple rules of the technique. By the time I came to TCI, I had never heard that there was a large number of books and all kinds of materials full of good advice concerning this aptitude. But now, after having learnt some of the most essential rules of note-taking, I can clearly understand what it is and how one should do it correctly. Now I know that instead of writing down words in full, we should note them down without vowels or find other ways to abbreviate them. After learning by heart a lot of symbols, I can use them instead of several words or, at times, the whole sentences which saves the time so precious for consecutive interpreters. Now I know the correct order of noting down primary and secondary information of the speech which helps me to appropriately note down what I hear. But the most important thing which I have learnt was to jot down not words but ideas, building them vertically in my writing pad. Of course, to do it, one should develop analytical skills, i.e. to listen to the speaker not like an ordinary person but like a careful analyst telling weeds from wheat. This technique turned out to be the most difficult in note taking. But I have been trying to learn it in spite of all obstacles on my way.
In conclusion I’d like to say that the essential part of a consecutive interpreter’s success depends on the quality of note-taking, although it doesn’t replace memory, of course. Therefore, it is absolutely significant to learn this technique properly and keep on practicing it day in and day out in order to get feasible result.