Any less expensive alternatives to Acebo?
Thread poster: Sara Senft

Sara Senft  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:19
Spanish to English
+ ...
Jan 25, 2009

After church today, I talked to a woman who is a union representative for the court interpreters in my state. I told her that, back in November, I was scheduled to take the written exams for court interpreters. I also said that I panicked a week before the exam and cancelled. I later realized that my panic was actually fed by the simultaneous interpreting portion of the oral exams.

I ended up gaining (at least some) resolve to try it again. In order to feel better prepared, I would need to start training and practicing simultaneous interpreting. I'm less worried about consecutive interpreting and sight translation.

Acebo is one of the best software programs for aspiring interpreters--in any of the major modes. The software is expensive, and I am wondering if there are any less expensive but still high-quality programs to help me. If they do exist, what are they called and how can I find out more?


Local time: 12:19
English to Hungarian
+ ...
practice Jan 25, 2009

Admittedly, I have not seen what this software does. Still, I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that it is useless. There is no way a computer programme can teach you simultaneous interpreting. It may make recording yourself a bit more convenient but I'm damned if that's worth even $5. There is no point in buying it for audio texts, there are more out there free of charge than you can shake a stick at.

So save your money and do what everyone else does. Get a brief theoretical introduction from a teacher, a book or an interpreter you can get hold of and then practice. A lot. If possible, have some colleagues listen to you and give feedback. If possible, go to interpreting classes so you can get expert advice. Do news programmes out loud. I'm sure you know the European Parliament puts all plenary sessions online, video of the speaker and audio of all the languages by the EU interpreters. Find speakers in the language you work from and do their speeches. Do anything and everything you hear. Record yourself and listen to your performance afterwards. Work on your weaknesses and develop an ability to keep going no matter what and compose yourself even if you know your last sentence made no sense at all. If you keep cool they won't notice.
When I was learning simultaneous interpreting (which was very recently, I don't want to sound like a veteran here) I basically interpreted everything I heard, non stop, in my head. I feel that helped a lot.


Natalia Elo  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:19
Member (2004)
English to Russian
+ ...
Software? Jan 25, 2009

Dear Sara,

Why do you need a software? In my opinion the only thing you need for practising on your own is a recording software/device. Any webcam would do. Find speeches in Internet and interpret them while using the recording system.

Far more important for a simultaneous interpreting student is in my opinion a peer and a mentor, so make sure you show your skills to some experienced interpreter at some point before the exam or attend at least a short course in

This site might be interesting as well:


Alexandra Goldburt
Local time: 03:19
English to Russian
+ ...
Clarification on what ACEBO is Jan 26, 2009

It is important to know that ACEBO products are NOT a software.

It's an audio recording that is accompanied by a book. The audio disk has exercises - some are actual interpreting exercises, other are "shadow" and "paraphrase" exercises.

I found them extremely helpful. Now, while ACEBO is certainly not cheap, keep in mind that going to school is way more costly. I'm not discouraging you to go to school - if you want to and can, go. I, for one, absolutely cannot afford interpreting school at the moment, but I cut all unnecessary expenses out of my budget and invested in ACEBO.

Remember that you don't have to buy every single product they offer. If it is simultaneous part of the exam you worry about, then buy simultaneous disk plus book ($70 plus shipping, if I am not mistaken).

In the future, though, I'd recommend to add their consecutive and sight translation part. Many people think that sight translation is easy - it is not. I learned the hard way - my worst scores on the exam were in sight part!

If, however, you absolutely cannot afford to buy it at the moment, then doing what Farkas suggests sounds like a good alternative.

Best luck, Sara!


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