7 Note-Taking Hints and Tips in Interpreting

May 23, 2022 | Interpreting

note-taking interpretation

You’ve just graduated with an interpreting degree, and you’re now ready to apply to different companies and organisations for a full-time job, with just an interview standing in your way before beginning your professional career.

You have thought through everything about this next step, and the interpreting world is no longer a step into the unknown for you.

You may have even bought yourself a brand-new notepad for your future note-taking.

Let’s take a look at that in more detail. Here is a short summary of the most important hints and tips to keep in mind as you start your note-taking career. Let’s get straight into it.

Interpreting: a renowned profession full of twists and turns

When you think about it, what better job is there than an interpreter? Bringing people of different languages and cultures together.

Helping people communicate through a language barrier. And most of all, communicating the messages and knowledge of one person or group to another. These among many others are the main motivations for interpreters to throw themselves into their profession.

The extremely varied working methods of an interpreter gives this job a real sense of achievement for people who enjoy handling multiple languages.

From dentists’ conventions in Warsaw, to presentations at film festivals or even translating official UN speeches, the range of possibilities for an interpreter are vast.

It is said that it is impossible for an interpreter to be bored, as they are continually looking for new sectors to explore.

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This is why there are so many aspiring candidates trying to make it in the interpreting world, but not everyone can be in Nicole Kidman’s shoes. It’s an expensive and competitive sector where demand is high, so patience is key.

Consecutive interpretation: a linguistic procedure which is incredibly complex

If you are a regular reader of our posts, you will know that there are several types of interpretation.

  • Simultaneous interpretation: As its name suggests, it is translating the speech of a speaker into the target language at the same time as they are speaking. This type of interpretation requires the use of state-of-the-art equipment: sound-proof booth, high-performance headsets, top quality microphones, excellent sound diffusion space, headphones, etc.
  • Consecutive interpretation: In this case, the speaker says a sentence or idea before the interpreter translates everything that was said. Well, not exactly everything. The idea of this type of interpretation is to take notes efficiently to be able to capture the main ideas of what was said. This is where it gets the reputation for being a highly complex job. Consecutive interpretation not only requires excellent linguistic skills, but also a strong ability to listen, take notes, summarise and concentrate.

The importance of taking notes in consecutive interpretation

As you now know, it is vitally important that interpreters are experts at note-taking if they are to accurately convey the key points of a speech.

Our specialists here at BeTranslated have come up with seven key tips for effective note-taking:

  • Do not write full sentences. Only useful and relevant words are needed
  • Note down the structure of what is being said as you go along (titles, subtitles, etc.)
  • Write down the more complex things that can be tricky to remember (numbers, percentages, etc.)
  • Use abbreviations for words that come up a lot, as this saves a lot of time
  • Do not go into secretary mode and start writing down absolutely everything
  • Ensure your notes are clear, making them as easy as possible to read
  • Use a note-taking application like Bear, Evernote or Notion
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