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Simultaneous Interpreting – tips and techniques

by Dr. Alina Maria VADUVA DPSI

A while ago I wrote a blog post with tips and suggestions to support you when trying to pass the DPSI Exam. I was honoured and happy to see how many people read it and liked it. Many comments followed and many messages and so many of you wanted to know about Simultaneous Interpreting. Yes, that was also my most intense fear and it was, for me, the hardest part of the exam. However, I passed it and you can as well. Here are a few tips that will definitely help you.

What is Simultaneous Interpreting?

Simultaneous interpretation (SI) is when an interpreter translates the message from the source language to the target language in real-time.

It is one of the most challenging and stressful jobs in the world and it encompasses a wide variety of skills and knowledge. The process includes several steps:

1. Taking in and memorising information

2. Translating the information in the other language

3. Rendering

4. Taking in and memorising new information.

Tip 1 - Control your nerves and work on your mind

Being calm is extremely important. You must simply get in the flow. I suggest closing your eyes, if that helps you, and focus on words only. Forget it is you. Act as if it is just a role you must play. It is a very important role, as you help people communicate.

Keep your voice down, remain in control and calm all the time, sound calm. In order to pass the exam and also to be good at simultaneous interpreting, you need to firstly believe that you can. I shall suggest bellow how to practice, but you must work on your mind as well. Formulas of self-motivation do work so use them.

Tell yourself things like: “I am calm. I can this. I master my languages".

Tip 2 – Keep up your languages

When it comes to languages the saying “Use it or lose it” does apply. It is true even when it is about your own native language. The so-called contamination is a real process and it does happen. I strongly suggest that you use your languages on a daily basis. Read, speak, listen to them! You need to make a conscious effort to prevent the contamination of your mother tongue. Read newspapers, listen to radio, post casts, music, watch TV programmes, Netflix series in all your languages. While doing so, do stop and write new words, work on your glossaries, turn on subtitles to improve your spelling.

Then practice simultaneous translating while listening to things. Go with the flow. Practice with your friends and family.

Tip 3 – Be curious

Do more than what I suggested before, practice with targeted domains. If your focus is Legal, then read legal articles, books, watch series that use the legal vocabulary in both/ all languages. Similarly, if your focus in on medical, direct your active learning towards medical.

Read and practice with things that are interesting for you, because enjoying it makes a difference and you will not feel the pressure of studying. For instance, I was watching police and intelligence British series on Netflix that I truly liked and they helped with my vocabulary. I practiced with different subtitles and doubling. I read books like “Interpretation – techniques and exercises” by James Nolan to learn more and more.

Tip 4 – Choose a course and learn

I like to have a planned and paced way of learning. If that is the case for you as well, allow me to suggest the ISL course for DPSI preparation that offered me direction and lost of exercises to practice with. They also offer an instalment payment option that made it affordable for me.

Go online and practice using Youtube videos.

Tip 5- Be aware of the intonation

While interpreting, the way words are told do matter while doing consecutive interpreting. Intonation does make a difference so be aware and mirror it while speaking.

Tip 6 – Wait a few seconds then start

When you do the SI, you are a few seconds behind the speaker so be aware that you should not start in the same time. Take a few seconds and then start as you need to wait and memorise and then translate.

Tip 7 – Go for quality rather than quantity

Remember that you do not know what comes next, so try to get as much as you can and use your knowledge of the domain and intuition to foresee what will follow. However, do not be afraid to skip. It is more import to get the meaning than words and to express yourself in a way that is understood and correct rather than rushed and unclear. If a word has no direct equivalent, try to explain it or use it in the original language.

Speak your languages naturally and for the purpose of clarity, I strongly suggest to use short and simple sentences. Interpret only what you understand. Although intuition and anticipation are important, you must never invent.

Tip 8- Practice makes it perfect

As I told you in my previous article, having a study buddy was my most important ingredient of success. If you cannot find a study buddy, don’t worry. Just have someone listen to you when you do it and provide encouraging, but constructive feedback.

ISL offers tutoring sessions you may want to consider.

Good luck with your DPSI exam and in your career as an interpreter.

I am the happy co-owner of a translation and interpreting start-up called AllSo ( ) , so if you feel like joining a new, dynamic and ambitious new player, please email us a CV at

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