Hello again, and thanks for keeping up with my blog posts every month. I hope you have found my opinions and ideas useful in your own interpreting journey.

This time I want to tell you about the third part of De La Mora’s online training: consecutive interpretation. The key here is really listening and taking good notes. Since consecutive interpretation involves hearing several ideas and sentences in a row before interpreting, you often have to take in a lot of information and details at once. Unless you have a prodigious memory, you are going to need some help to completely remember each idea and deliver an accurate interpretation.

You need to really understand the whole idea you are about to interpret in the source language first. This step is crucial for avoiding mistaken literal translations. One you get the whole picture, you can usually deduce by context exactly what it means. Even if you don’t get every word, if you get the whole idea you will be ready to interpret accurately.

Second, be meticulous with details. That includes dates, proper names, addresses, and all kinds of numbers. Be specific when describing actions. The only way to do this properly is to take good notes, which is a skill that requires time and practice. To have a solid foundation for notetaking, you need to build your own system of codes and symbols that, of course, is different for everyone.

I’m still trying to build mine; so far I have been using symbols I learned in high school and some abbreviations. The toughest part – for me at least – is to stop writing every little thing.  I’m still working on it, but one thing is for sure: the more you take notes, the more you remember the symbols and strategies you’ve used before.

What I’ve found really helpful throughout the training is teaching my brain to pay attention to the whole concept, rather than immediately finding equivalent words in the target language from the moment the speaker starts talking. Rather, I am developing the ability to picture the whole scene. If you imagine the scene, you’ll be better able to remember the details involved.

Some of the mock exams we took during this series of classes involved narrations with various Latin American accents, slang words, and most importantly, a lot of details. My challenge was interpreting the entire idea without omitting any information. What I found extremely helpful was to always make sure I wrote down the first and last word of every chunk of information in my notes. This made it easier for my brain to remember what was in the middle.

Don’t be scared of detailed information. Sometimes details are so unusual and picturesque that your mind will bring them up quicker than any other information while you are interpreting.

This time my recommendation is to practice taking down notes as you listen. Work with maybe one audio clip or video at a time; you can play the same one several times until you master it. Shortly after taking notes, go ahead and analyze your notes as compared to the audio and start creating your own symbolic alphabet. Good luck!

María Ximena Pineda

Colombian writer, journalist and screenwriter. She has written for television and collaborated with various newspapers and magazines.