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Consecutive vs. Simultaneous

When I started working in the industry I had no idea there was a difference between translations and interpretations. On my first day on the job I learned translation dealt with written language while interpretation dealt with spoken languages, easy enough right? Then I came to learn there are different kinds of interpretation, consecutive interpretation and simultaneous interpretation. This is common knowledge in the industry; however, from an outsider’s standpoint this can be very confusing!

Consecutive interpretation is when the interpreter waits for the speaker to finish their sentence and then interprets the speaker’s words into a different language. Consecutive interpretation is usually used in situations such as business meetings, press conferences, interviews, teleconferences, or any other type of meeting which involves one on one exchange of words.

Simultaneous interpretation is when the interpreter is interpreting the speaker’s words as they are speaking, and this type of interpretation requires the use of equipment. Participants wanting to hear the interpreted conversation wear headphones, while the interpreter works in a sound-proof booth enabling the audience to hear the presentation without distractions. This type of interpreting is typically used for conferences and large meetings since the use of audio equipment allows there to be no limit to the number of people in the audience.

If you would like to learn more about the differences between consecutive and simultaneous interpretation, please visit our page about interpretation services.