What is exercise in interpreting? Can you get better if you practice? Are interpreters born or made? In cognitive psychology there is a concept called deliberate practice. Deliberate practice a common denominator for experts, it means that you not only practice dutifully, but that you actually have a specific goal with your practice. And the goal is not just: “I’m going to be a darn good interpreter”, but: “Today, I will practice to end my sentences”, or: “This time I’m going to make sure I don’t use any ‘euh'” and so forth.
As I have studied and interviewed very experienced interpreters I have realized that interpreting practice is not just something that has to do with the interpreting exercise. It is also things as, reading newspapers in different languages, listening to the news in different languages, getting to know your speakers, for instance.
Interpreters spend much time preparing, and I would argue that the preparation is also part of the deliberate practice (if you do it properly of course). All those different activities develop and increase the interpreter’s knowledge base and this in turn improves the interpreting performance. Any interpreting teacher will tell you that interpreting is not just translating verbatim from one language to another. And once you have mastered the interpreting skill the way to improve your interpreting is to broaden your knowledge base.
So, my exercise today was; reading the newspaper, listening to the news, using my foreign languages, and blog a little bit. Today I did not interpret, but I tried to increase my knowledge base in preparation of next interpreting mission
This post is part of a list, 30 days of interpreting. You can see the whole list here.