Have just concluded a fascinating assignment, technically speaking: the same 2-hour long presentation on tax administration issues, given by the same two speakers to successive groups of 50 participants, over three full days + two half-days, ie a total of THIRTEEN such instances, interpreted from a bi-active triple booth.
I had had previous repeat performances, but never these many and this close, and was thus fascinated and educated this time round, from one session to the next,by
so much so that I wondered why such an approach, ie let us learn from doing, pondering and experimenting in the framework of repeat performances, was not regularly used in training courses, from scratch or refresher, with the added benefit of expert critique.
Practice makes perfect, as the saying goes. I think that a frequently underestimated part of becoming a good conference interpreter is becoming desensitized to the conference environment itself, which allows you to focus on the actual work and hence do a better job.
answered 17 Apr '12, 11:22
Here are just three (associative) thoughts triggered by your question (and thanks for keeping it so open since I think there is a long tail of unchartered research territory behind it):
It's an interesting point you've raised. Here's my take on it:
1) Training: We sometimes use repetition in training at the Master's course where I teach. For instance, we might have students take notes and do consec from a speech, and then go into the booth and do the same speech in simultaneous immediately afterwards. Or we will take speeches done in consec class the previous week and use them again for simultaneous class. Or even have them do two simultaneous versions of the same speech back-to-back.
The idea of using repetition in the training context is to create a situation where students are familiar with the material and so can focus more on the technique and less on absorbing information. Of course, since the speeches are delivered live each time, you never get 100% identical versions, as you would if you were working with recordings in training.
2) Professional practice: I have to deal with repetition in real life as well. I have one client who often holds two versions of the same meeting spaced a few months apart. The agenda is identical, as are the presentations and the people at the top table (not to mention the interpreters). Only the national delegates are different. In each case, I found that having worked at what was basically the same meeting a few months previously helped me the second time around.
Here's another one: In successive jobs with one client, I have heard the same keynote-type presentation given by the same individual at the same type of meeting about 8 or 10 times over the past few years. The only difference is that each time, it's to a different audience. Do I do a better job each time around? I hope I do! There's a bit about chainsaws in the middle, and the first time around, it caught me off guard ("did he really say chainsaws?"), but these days, I can tell when the chainsaw bit is coming... I like the speech so much, I ask to do it, even when it's not officially my turn ;).
You'll find a similar situation happens with any client who hires the same interpreters for regular meetings (annual conferences, quarterly shareholders meetings, even the European Parliament plenary weeks, whatever). The client gets a better service because the interpreters draw on their familiarity with the subject matter.
3) Now to research: Interestingly, some of the ground-breaking work done by Daniel Gile when he was developing his Effort Model showed that the same professional interpreters doing the same speech twice back-to-back would make roughly the same number of mistakes each time, only in different places (!). So maybe our gut feeling that repetition leads to improved performance is not entirely borne out by the evidence.
answered 18 Apr '12, 10:45