How can I motivate myself to practice interpreting?
Thread poster: Phil Hand

Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 17:12
Chinese to English
Dec 28, 2011

I've been struggling with this for years now, so I thought I'd throw it out there to see if anyone has any tips. I translate and interpret, and have been interpreting almost in-house for over a year now. It's basically escort interpreting, with very little demand on my technical skills, so my note-taking and particularly my simultaneous have deteriorated terribly. I desperately need to practice, but I just can't.

The thing is, the technical side of interpreting doesn't interest me at all - the pacing, the phrasing shortcuts, the sentence planning. What I like about interpreting is the communicative aspect: facilitating a conversation, seeing the understanding in my audience. When I'm practicing solo, all I can hear are the mistakes I'm making, and I get disheartened and give up very quickly.

One solution would be to get a practice partner, but I've never been able to make that work - I'm busy, or they're busy, or we aren't practicing the same kind of material...

Anyway, I just wanted to see if anyone out there had similar experience, and if anyone's found a way to reproduce the communicative thrill, or to motivate themselves to practice. Thanks in advance for any ideas you have!


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Crystal Samples  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:12
French to English
+ ...
Organize an interpreting group Dec 28, 2011

Hi Phil,

Although my degree is not in interpreting and I don't normally work as an interpreter, during my graduate studies at MIIS many of my classmates studied interpretation and were required to form interpreting practice groups; then they committed themselves to a certain number of hours each week to practicing within those groups. They would also critique each other and give feedback.

Maybe you could use ProZ to organize a PowWow so that you can meet with other interpreters in your area who work in your same language combination. Perhaps some of them would be interested in forming a practice group.

I understand that you are busy, since that is what everyone in our business strives to be. However, if you are really serious about honing your skills, you should try hard to form the interpreting practice group; and once formed, you should create a schedule that you all can commit to; maybe a couple of hours twice a week or something like that.

The hardest parts will be in the beginning, but once you get the group going and see all the practice paying off, I'm sure you'll be glad you did it.

Good Luck!
Crystal


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FarkasAndras
Local time: 10:12
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Not sure it's worth it Dec 28, 2011

Phil Hand wrote:

I translate and interpret, and have been interpreting almost in-house for over a year now. It's basically escort interpreting

the technical side of interpreting doesn't interest me at all - the pacing, the phrasing shortcuts, the sentence planning. What I like about interpreting is the communicative aspect


Based on the above snippets, it may not make sense to force yourself to practice. You say you're working practically in-house, so you probably don't get many simul jobs from other clients. Why practice then, if you don't even like doing it?
If you really want to do more simul work in the near future and there is a decent chance of getting simul jobs, then it makes sense to keep your simul skills up. But if you like your current "job", I don't see any reason to struggle with practicing. You can always start practicing and get back into simul if and when your situation changes and a regular stream of simul jobs comes your way.


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Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 17:12
Chinese to English
TOPIC STARTER
The future is coming fast Dec 29, 2011

Thanks, Crystal, that's good advice. My current assignment is likely to come to an end in a coup of months, and I want to be market ready when it does. You're right, practice with other people is the best way, when you can find them!

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Claudia Brauer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:12
Member (2011)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Mental Gym for Interpreters Dec 29, 2011

Hello, Phil. I began training interpreters this year and have been asked that question at least a dozen times. It is, indeed, one of the greatest concerns of aspiring interpreters or interpreters who wish to improve their skills. In virtue of the many requests submitted, I am already in the process of creating what I have called a "Mental Gym for Interpreters" that will be hosted via ProZ.com. The exact format is yet to be determined, as one of the roadblocks is, of course, that we have to cater specifically to working language pairs, and that is one of the most difficult parts to coordinate. The Mental Gym should be up and running by the summer of 2012. In the meantime, I have already written several posts with recommendations for individuals who wish to practice on their own. I believe that one of the "problems" you might have is "criticizing" yourself. Swimmers who are practicing to become professionals and join a team do not go into the pool and criticize themselves. They go in and swim. Laps and laps and laps. Over and over and over again. Because your muscles develop a "memory" as you "practice, practice practice". So, if I can give you any advise is: continue practicing on your own until you can find a partner, but PLEASE do NOT criticize yourself for some time. Only do it once in a while, by recording yourself, by going back on the tapes and comparing your own progress. Progress is slow, like biking or acting, you have to develop the skill, by practicing, only afterwards you start criticizing yourself.

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Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 17:12
Chinese to English
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Claudia Dec 30, 2011

That's a useful reminder!

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