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Simultaneous vs Consecutive Interpretation: Understanding Important Differences

Older Man and Younger Man Translating Paperwork

When looking for interpretation services, it is essential to understand precisely what you need. The two main types of interpretation are simultaneous interpretation and consecutive interpretation. They both have their place depending on the audience and the scenario. In today’s blog, Akorbi will explain the difference between the two types of interpretation and the best time to use each of them.

Simultaneous Interpretation

With simultaneous interpretation, the interpretation happens while the speaker is still speaking. This often happens at large events or when interpreting to larger crowds. The interpreter must be skilled enough to listen and quickly repeat the message as it is spoken. This type of interpretation is best in settings where information is being relayed quickly.

An excellent example of this is the American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters that you often see during prominent political speeches, news announcements, and even concerts.

Related Post: Interpretation Services: What Is Simultaneous Interpretation?

Consecutive Interpretation

During consecutive interpretation, an interpreter waits for a pause in the speaker’s message before translating. The interpreter is silent during the actual speech and interprets during the breaks. These breaks are likely determined beforehand by the speaker. They may want the interpreter to speak after each complete thought, after each paragraph, or at designated times. If a lesson plan or speech is being read, the interpreter may get a copy beforehand to help guide them.

This type of interpretation is often more beneficial in smaller settings or smaller groups, where the speed of the information given isn’t necessarily as important as understanding all of the information being presented—for example, a college course, a lecture, or a press conference. Consecutive interpretation can occur during a doctor visit or when utilizing a government service. It can easily be done over live video in any of these situations if an interpreter is not physically present.

Related Post: Interpretation Services: The Differences Between Consecutive and Simultaneous Interpretation and When to Use Each

What Type Does Your Situation Require?

While both types of interpretation work well, they each tend to have times where they may be more beneficial than the other. Simultaneous interpretation is suitable for events happening in real-time. The interpreter is conveying the message a few seconds behind the speaker, so the information spreads quickly. In a disaster-type situation where people need to be rapidly moved from danger, simultaneous interpretation is likely the best method to use.

On the other hand, if the content of the message is more important than the speed at which it is delivered, you can use consecutive interpretation. It is still valuable for disaster-type situations when people are out of immediate danger but still needs to understand where to go or what steps to take.

Contact Akorbi for Interpretation Services

Akorbi can assist with any language services. We specialize in building compassionate human connections through language, technology, and workforce solutions. Our worldwide contact centers provide multilingual support, bilingual agents, competitive rates, and exceptional quality. If you need translation or interpretation services, contact Akorbi today or call (214) 256-9222.

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Here’s what Akorbi is doing in response to COVID-19. Learn More »