Guest podcast: Sharing the small world of interpreting through podcasts Reply

LangFM won this year's best interpreting-related podcast.

Alexander’s LangFM series won this year’s best interpreting-related podcast.

In keeping with our guest blog series from winners of this year’s community choice awards, it’s only fitting that we feature the recipient for best interpreting-related podcast with, well, a podcast. Alexander Drechsel, whose LangFM series won the award in this category, is a professional conference interpreter working for a large European institution. He regularly blogs about language, interpreting and technology, particularly Apple and Android tablets.

In this guest post, Alexander discusses the increasing popularity of podcasts among language professionals, and offers a few worthwhile podcast listening suggestions of his own.

Click on the play button below to to give this guest podcast a listen:

Direct link to podcast:

alexander_drechselI hope you enjoyed this post, and many thanks to Alexander for sharing it with us!

Be sure to check out the LangFM podcast series to hear more from Alexander as he talks to fellow interpreters about their careers in languages, as well as their passions beyond the confines of the booth. You can also find Alexander on Twitter as @adrechsel, his personal account, and as @tabterp, where he shares all things related to using tablets for interpreting.

This is the third post in a series featuring recipients of this year’s community choice awards. See the previous posts in this series here:

Guest post: How to practice interpreting? Stop interpreting 4


Andrew won the community choice award for best interpreting-related book.

Experienced interpreters and students alike may be able to learn some valuable tips in today’s guest post from community choice award winner Andrew Gillies. Andrew is a freelance conference interpreter and trainer working from French, German and Polish into English at the European Parliament, the European Patent Office, the European Space Agency, the European Commission, and for private clients. He has been training interpreters since 1999 in universities throughout Europe: at the University of Łódź, WLS Warsaw, UJ Cracow, UAM Poznan, FHK Cologne, ISIT Paris and EMCI Lisbon, and for the European Parliament in Brussels. He also trains interpreter trainers for AIIC.

Andrew has published a number of books and articles on conference interpreter training, the most notable of which being Conference Interpreting: A Student’s Practice Book, which won this year’s community choice award for best interpreting-related book. In this post, Andrew shares some interesting strategies for practicing interpreting by not interpreting.

In this short post I’d like to show why interpreting is not necessarily the best way to improve your interpreting and suggest a few ways of practising that are not interpreting.

andrew_gilliesIt’s natural enough to think that best way to improve your interpreting is to interpret. Student interpreters might think so for a number of reasons – 1) they’ve done very little of it so far; 2) they’re told repeatedly how important experience is in interpreting; 3) they want to interpret as much as possible because they like doing it. Professionals on the other hand may think that all the interpreting they are doing in the course of a working week is enough to bring continued improvement of itself.

However, interpreting is not the ONLY way to improve your interpreting. And indeed, when practise means only interpreting it’s not even the best way to improve any more.

“How expert one becomes at a skill has more to do with how one practices than with merely performing a skill a large number of times. An expert breaks down the skills that are required to be expert and focuses on improving those skill chunks during practice or day-to-day activities, often paired with immediate coaching feedback.” This quote is Wikipedia’s description of the work of psychologist K. Anders Ericsson – a pioneer in the field of deliberate practice. Ericsson is not specifically talking about interpreting, of course, but it still applies, based as it is on some sound empirical evidence.

So what does that mean? Well let’s take an everyday analogy: my Great-Uncle drove a car every day for 60 years – so he had plenty of experience – but he was a bad driver and never got any better at it because 1) he wasn’t trying to get better; 2) he didn’t practice the things he did less well, like changing gear, in isolation and 3) he certainly didn’t ask for any feedback on how he was driving! (He did give a lot of ‘feedback’ to other drivers, but that’s another story!)

So can interpreting be broken down into sub-skills and how can we address them individually? Well this is only a short post, so let’s stick to consecutive interpreting.

Daniel Gile identifies the following sub-skills for consecutive in his book Basic Concepts and Models for Interpreter and Translator Training: Listening, Analysing, Memorising, Taking notes, Coordinating between sub-skills in a first phase and then in a second phase, Speaking, Reading notes, Recalling information, Monitoring your production.

Any of these skills can be practised in isolation, without actually interpreting. You just need to find the right exercise. And the practice will impact positively on your future performance of the whole interpreting skill.

Let’s take ‘analysis’. Speeches are not uninterrupted streams of consciousness (despite what we sometimes might think!) The speaker will have created a speech with distinct sections separated by topic, chronology, line of argument etc. Identifying those sections is a useful part of the analysis sub-skill in consecutive (and also simultaneous). And it’s a skill that can be practised without interpreting. For example by only listening to a speech and indicating when you think the speaker has moved on to a different part of the speech. The classic exercise is to count the sections on your fingers¹, but you could equally note down one word per section². You can also work from the transcript of a speech³. (First ask someone to remove all the paragraph breaks from the transcript so the speech is just a block of text. Then read the speech and hit ‘return’ wherever you think it moves on to a new section). And for each of these exercises compare your version with a colleague or a teacher. After all, if you can’t identify these sections when only listening, or when reading a text, how will you recognize and communicate them when interpreting?

Another related exercise⁴ practises your understanding of how the parts of a speech fit together. Get a colleague to print out a short speech, or part of a speech (5-10 paragraphs). Ask the colleague to cut up the speech – so you have one paragraph on each piece of paper – and shuffle the bits of paper. Now your job is to read the different parts of the speech and put them back in the right order. You will notice – because the exercise forces you to notice – that certain elements of language and information exclude or impose a certain order of the sections. You will start recognize how a speaker signals a new section, or how two sections relate to one another, or how speeches self-reference. That in turn become very useful to you when you are interpreting and better understanding these things yourself will help you communicate them better to your listeners.

conference_interpretingProfessionals may feel that basic exercises like these are too simple for them. But it’s worth trying them out to check that is the case. If it is, then instead of isolating a sub-skill entirely they can focus on a sub-skill while interpreting⁵. For example, by setting a goal as a complement to the interpreting task. Something like, ‘today while interpreting I’m going to focus on clearly separating the sections of the speech for my listeners’. Then record and listen to yourself to see if you managed to do that. Focusing on a sub-skill in this way is also more effective than simply interpreting without any specific goal.

To conclude I’d like to make one more important point and again abuse the example of my (fictional) Great-Uncle to do so. As I said earlier, his driving didn’t improve because he wasn’t trying to improve it. Most student interpreters are trying to improve already, so part of the battle is won. My Great-Uncle though had another issue. He wasn’t trying to improve because he mistakenly thought he was doing it just-fine-thank-you-very-much. Interpreters can make the same mistake. Don’t be one of them! There’s always room for improvement, so keep practising, and thinking about how you practise, long after you graduate from interpreting school!

These exercises, and more, can be found in Andy Gillies’ book, Conference Interpreting – A Student’s Practice Book with the following references – 1 C31; 2 C103; 3 C39; 4 C40; 5 A5.

Many thanks to Andrew for sharing this post with us.

Interested in learning more tips on honing your interpreting skills? Be sure to check out Interpreter Training Resources, a website dedicated to this subject. Conference Interpreting: A Student’s Practice Book is also available for sale via Routledge and on Amazon.

This is the second post in a series featuring recipients of this year’s community choice awards. The first post in this series can be found here:

And the winners are… 1

proz-community-choice-badge-purple (1)

The results are in! In case you missed the buzz on social media, I thought it would be a good idea to highlight the winners of the 2015 community choice awards here. This initiative is held by on an annual basis (2015 being the third year) in an effort to recognize and celebrate those language professionals who are active, outstanding, or otherwise influential in various media throughout the industry. Results are split into two categories: translation-related and interpreting-related. Nominations, voting, and winners are determined entirely by the community.

So who did the community choose as this year’s award recipients?

Translation-related winners:

A special congratulations to Marta Stelmaszak of WantWords who took home an incredible 7 awards this year, beating the record she set last year. Congrats, Marta!translation_tiles

Interpreting-related winners:

*Categories marked with an asterisk indicate tied results.

Aida González Del Álamo won the award for best interpreting-related blog for the third year in a row. Congratulations, Aida! I am also pleased to announce that 2015 marks the first year that sufficient votes were received to select winners in every interpreting-related category. interpreting_tiles

Congratulations again to all the winners, and a special thanks to everyone who nominated, voted, and spread the word to make the 2015 community choice awards the best year yet. Stay tuned for guest blog posts featuring some of this year’s winners…

I hope you enjoyed this post! Comments, feedback, and suggestions for future blog posts can be made in the comments section below or via Twitter @ProZcom. For more information about the community choice awards, see:

List of 2015 community choice awards winners »
Announcement of winners in the Translator Coop »
Past community choice awards winners » community choice awards FAQ »

Podcast with Nataly Kelly on “Found in Translation” 2

Nataly Kelly is the VP of Market Development at Smartling, a former professional interpreter, and co-author of the book “Found in Translation: How Language Shapes Our Lives and Transforms the World.” In this interview, I had the chance to speak with Nataly about some extraordinary language professionals, the future of the industry, and how translation impacts every aspect of our lives.

“Found in Translation,” written by both Nataly Kelly and Jost Zetzsche, received the most votes in the “Best Translation Book” category of the 2013 community choice awards. You can see the full list of sub-categories and their winners here:

“Language is everywhere and so, as a result, translation naturally follows. When you think about religion, sports, politics, entertainment, technology, literature, the arts – translation is found in pretty much every aspect of human life, and that’s kind of the point that we wanted to make throughout the book by including so many different scenarios and so many different areas of life, to show that translation really shapes the human experience.”

You can learn more about this book by visiting the website, and more about Nataly via Twitter @natalykelly

Click here to listen:


Right click and “Save as” to download: podcast, 2014-2-10

I hope you enjoy this podcast. Feedback and suggestions are welcome, and can be posted here or via Twitter @ProZcom


Brazil conference speaker interview series: Débora Pereira 1

Débora_PereiraMeet the speaker

The seventh (and final!) installment of the Brazil conference speaker interview series features the responses of Débora Pereira, who has worked as a Libras – or Brazilian Sign Language – interpreter for over 14 years. As part of her presentation at the upcoming conference in Recife, Débora will be speaking on some of the challenges and opportunities currently facing sign language interpreters.

Her responses appear below, in Portuguese.

The interview

MK: How did you get started in translation/interpretation?

DP: Para mim, a aquisição de segunda língua veio de forma espontânea, quando tinha 12 anos, estudava e tinha muito contato com pessoas surdas. Como 90% dos intérpretes há 12 anos, o apredizado de Libras se deu em área religiosa, logo após passei para área de tradução/interpretação do Pré-vestibular da UFPE, aos 17 anos e, desde então, venho atuando no ensino superior.

MK: What would you consider the most important challenge facing freelance translators or interpreters today?

DP: Os desafios são os seguintes: 1 – Uma melhor formação da prática de tradução/interpretação em diferentes áreas do mercado. 2 – A falta do léxico de sinalização em muitas áreas, precisando ainda serem formados, áreas como: Medicina, Engenharias etc. E mesmo assim muitos intérpretes aceitam, dependendo da formação (escolar ou superior) desconsiderando a formação base de uma criança, ou se a pessoa surda tem aquele conhecimento prévio para compreender de forma plena no ensino superior.

MK: What advice would you give freelancers seeking to expand their client base?

DP: Seja voluntário em algumas atividades de tradução/interpretação para pessoas surdas, elas são seus principais clientes futuros e que poderão, por meio da divulgação boca-a-boca, te indicar.

MK: What one piece of advice would you give to someone just starting out in translation or interpretation?

DP: 1 – Estudar nunca é demais: pesquise, seja curioso; 2- Conviva com surdos do ensino superior que tem o domínio profundo de Libras; 3 – Tire dúvidas com outros profissionais intérpretes mais experientes; 4 – Seja sincero: se não tem o domínio de uma respectiva área de atuação, indique alguém que seja; 5 – A honestidade, humildade e esforço sempre são bem vindos em qualquer área de atuação, então inclua tais aspectos na sua vida.

MK: You will be giving a session at the upcoming conference in Recife, Brazil, called “Mercado para intérpretes de Libras e o Prodeaf, tecnologia a serviço da acessibilidade.” What can attendees to this session expect to learn?

DP: Na minha palestra, abordarei pontos como: a) A demanda de intérpretes de LIBRAS não ser o suficiente para a real necessidade do mercado; O Perfil dos intérpretes de LIBRAS; A falta de formação específica de tais profissionais; Falhas das políticas públicas para professores que necessitam de conhecimento sobre a área da surdez e órgãos do ensino superior que não sabem lidar com esses novos profissionais; falta de valorização e atualmente baixos rendimentos.

Além da minha palestra, teremos a participação de Flávio Almeida, Diretor da empresa Proativa. Sua empresa ficou conhecida ao desenvolver a ferramenta de tecnologia ProDeaf, que consiste em um avatar intérprete de Libras para multiplataformas, garantindo a acessibilidade utilizando a tecnologia.


The event

I hope you’ve enjoyed this interview series featuring just a few of the many presenters who will be sharing their knowledge and expertise with the attendees of the upcoming Fifth conference in Brazil, which will take place in Recife this Saturday and Sunday. Here’s a recap of the presenters whose responses have been highlighted in this series:

There are still two more days left to register to attend this exciting event. Please see the conference page – – for more information.

Brazil conference speaker interview series: Bianca Bold 2

Meet the speakerBianca_Bold

Today’s installment of the Brazil conference speaker interview series features Bianca Bold. Bianca has been working in the industry for over ten years, holds an MA in Translation Studies from York University, and has been working in the field of film subtitling since 2006. Bianca will be sharing her knowledge of the field of audiovisual translation during her presentation entitled “A globalização do audiovisual: uma projeção para muito além do cinema” at the upcoming event in Recife, Brazil.

The interview

MK: How did you get started in translation/interpretation?

BB: I started teaching English at a very young age, but I knew it wasn’t what I wanted to do for life. One of the options I had at university was to major in English–Portuguese translation – so I said, “Why not?”, since I had already done a few translations and enjoyed it. This was back in 2000. Little by little I started getting more translation clients and teaching fewer classes. The full transition happened in about 2005, when I decided to dedicate my time exclusively to translations. I participated then in a very active forum of Brazilian translators and interpreters, and they taught me a great deal about the market, professionalism, networking, etiquette, you name it. I wouldn’t have made it this far if it weren’t for them. A bunch of participants are now a solid group of friends who interact regularly via Skype and Facebook. Constant networking with great professionals has opened a lot of doors for me.

MK: What would you consider the most important challenge facing freelance translators or interpreters today?

BB: I’m not sure this is the most important, but it’s a big one in my opinion: knowing how to establish oneself in the market as a well-paid professional. There’s no doubt that we have a multifaceted market, in which there are indeed many clients paying peanuts and relying on very low quality standards. On the other hand, there are thousands of end clients (and even agencies) willing to pay premium rates for top-notch translation services. I believe it’s a choice a professional has to make: which market are you going to tackle? Then go for it, market yourself accordingly, invest in your continuous development, network with the right crowd… the possibilities are endless. It’s certainly not as simple as it may sound; it’s challenging to maintain this course. But I think professional translators and interpreters should know that this premium market does exist and that they can raise their game and achieve better working conditions, instead of just complaining uselessly.

MK: What advice would you give freelancers seeking to expand their client base?

BB: I’ve just mentioned two strategies that have worked like a charm for me: networking with the right people and focusing on continuous development as a professional. I can recall two milestones in my career. First, I became a much better professional and expanded my client base immensely by participating in online discussion lists, which to this day is part of my regular routine. Second, I became an ATA member and began attending their annual conference, as well as other professional events. The benefits of this are many: learning a lot, making incredible contacts, establishing new partnerships, working for great agencies, and much more. Freelancers in general need to get out there and make themselves known in the market. Appearing frequently in these environments with a positive, professional attitude, and interacting with great professionals, will make other influential people remember your name, your face, your specialties, and eventually hire you or refer you to someone in need.

MK: What one piece of advice would you give to someone just starting out in translation or interpretation?

BB: Don’t be pushy. Note that I’ve mentioned we should keep a “positive, professional attitude” when networking. The way you interact with colleagues and the way people see you, both online and offline, will influence HOW WELL you’re remembered and HOW you’re remembered. No one wants to be remembered as the “clueless guy who distributes his résumé or business card to everybody and their dog,” or “the lazy girl who keeps posting silly translation questions on the forum, instead of researching herself.” There are many great posts about professional etiquette, and I strongly believe every newbie should take time to read and study the subject.

MK: You will be giving a session at the upcoming conference in Recife, Brazil, called “A globalização do audiovisual: uma projeção para muito além do cinema.” What can attendees to this session expect to learn?

BB: Although I’m the only speaker in this session, I prepared the material together with my business partner, Carolina Alfaro de Carvalho, a reference in audiovisual translation in Brazil. Our main purpose is to break down stigmas and stereotypes in the realm of audiovisual translation. Many think of audiovisual translation as limited to the entertainment industry (subtitling or dubbing for cinema, DVDs, TV, etc.), and restricted to young, specialized translators who get paid very low rates and produce questionable quality, among other generalizations that do not always hold true. In fact, there is a strong demand for audiovisual translation in the corporate sector which is not usually seen by the general public. This sector is making extensive use of multimedia resources and requires specialized translators. We’ve put together several examples to illustrate our points and, hopefully, make attendees look at this translation submarket as something that can be very profitable and beneficial for translators who invest in learning about the intricacies of audiovisual translation.

The event

This is the fourth installment of the multi-part interview series featuring speakers of the upcoming conference in Recife, Brazil.

Stay tuned for the next post in this series which will highlight the responses of conference presenter and moderator Fernanda Rocha.

Brazil conference speaker interview series: Branca Vianna 2

Branca_ViannaMeet the speaker

Today’s installment of the Brazil conference speaker interview series highlights the responses of Branca Vianna, who has been working as a conference interpreter since 1990. Branca will be speaking on her professional experience and offer advice to aspiring – as well as current – conference interpreters as part of her presentation at the upcoming event in Recife.

The interview

MK: How did you get started in translation/interpretation?

BV: I trained as an interpreter in college. It was one of the majors available to undergraduates who were studying Languages and Literature at PUC-Rio. When I started college I had no idea what interpretation was, but a friend was taking the course and suggested I give it a try, since I had lived in the US as a child, could speak fluent English and was disappointed with my choice in major, which had originally been Brazilian and Portuguese literature. I took her advice and never looked back. I never really had any other profession. My friend is also still working as an interpreter in Rio – we often work together.

MK: What would you consider the most important challenge facing freelance translators or interpreters today?

BV: I think the most important challenges are the highly competitive market and the need for constantly updating your skills, both professional skills and marketing skills. Social networks have made marketing yourself easier, but keeping up with all this marketing is also very time consuming, and can take away from the main event, which should be working on your languages and preparing for conferences.

MK: What advice would you give freelancers seeking to expand their client base?

BV: My advice would be to use social networks as much as possible, to become digitally literate, but to not forget that none of that will matter if, once you land a job, you don’t know the terminology, don’t know how to behave at a conference, haven’t kept up your B and C languages (and even A language) and just bomb in the booth. Clients do not give second chances very often, and neither do chief interpreters.

MK: What one piece of advice would you give to someone just starting out in translation or interpretation?

BV: To work hard in keeping up your skills once you are out of interpreting school. Learning never ends for interpreters. Continue to read and listen to your podcasts, just like your teachers taught you to, practice consecutive on your own, record yourself every once in a while, try to attend classes at your alma mater if work is scarce just so your interpreting doesn’t get rusty. In short, do everything you can to keep in shape. It’s slow going in the beginning, but keep at it and you will succeed. We’ve all been there and you are not alone.

MK: You will be giving a session at the upcoming conference in Recife, Brazil, called “O profissional de interpretação no país da gambiarra.” What can attendees to this session expect to learn?

BV: They can expect to learn about the difference between professionals and amateurs and why it matters in the world of interpreting.

The event

This is the third installment of the multi-part speaker interview series featuring the presenters of the Fifth conference in Brazil, which will be held on August 24th and 25th in Recife.

To learn more about this event and register to attend, please visit