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Hello, I have just been asked to work as a consecutive interpreter at a three-day technical seminar. The first days it will be 5 hours, the second day 8 hours (including a lunch break), and the last day 6 hours. I suppose there will be a coffee break for the 1st and 3rd day. This would be my first work experience for consecutive interpreting (I studied it at uni, but I have only done simultaneous interpreting for work). Do you think it is feasible to do it alone, especially the whole second day? Thank you in advance!

asked 14 Sep '15, 06:39

claireindublin's gravatar image


It depends on...

  • the type of subject
  • whether your client is used to consecutive or not
  • your relationship with the client
  • first and foremost, your experience in consecutive interpreting

I've done a few week-long solo consecutive gigs in technical meetings, deposition or arbitration cases for bilingual meetings.

It does require way more concentration and preparation than simultaneous. You also need to establish a positive working relationship with your clients, to the extent that if you need a break now you should get a break now.

I would have insisted on a second colleague if I hadn't been certain that it wouldn't be wall-to-wall consecutive. But there were always plenty of break-out sessions without any interpreting.

If you've never done any real-life consec -- forget about what they taught you at school -- and/or you do not know the client, insist on a second colleague.

Also, if you're doing it alone, get paid for it. There are plenty of reasons why a single consec interpreter is better than a team of two, but getting paid half as much is certainly not one of them.

And don't forget to get plenty of rest before the gig, you'll need it to get through it.

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answered 14 Sep '15, 07:14

Vincent%20Buck's gravatar image

Vincent Buck

I have worked for an entire week alone in consec for clients I didn't know personally, three times. I studied huge amounts, and just made certain that no one was in any doubt that I was the one calling the shots about when and how long I worked - in a very professional way of course!

The schedule I worked out on the first day was used throughout the week: 90 min on, 30 min off, 90 min on, 90 min off, etc. I was paid 150% of a Simultaneous day rate. Had I been working in a team of two, I would have taken a regular Simultaneous day rate.

The reason this schedule usually works is that you show during the first 90 minutes that you are doing a very good job. After that, the client has seen you are good, that you know the topic, and will relax about any requests for extra breaks that you may ask for later.

Of course, you will have to be very good for this to work. If you have any doubts at all, please do negotiate for a second colleague.

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answered 14 Sep '15, 18:28

JuliaP's gravatar image


Even if the interpreting process in consecutive is divided (you listen and encode, but without having to control any oral output at that stage and only later decode and control your output) and would be less tiring than sim, I find it difficult to work alone for longer than two hours.

If the seminar is technical and if there aren't any longer breaks but your 90 minutes lunch break, I'd tell the client that the job requires two interpreters (or just pass).

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answered 14 Sep '15, 06:50

Gaspar's gravatar image

Gaspar ♦♦

I know consec solo is done in Europe bur rarely in the USA. Of course, it depends on the topic but if it is a conference setting or business talks i d insist on 2 interpreters. Your brain will thank you afterwards.

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answered 11 May '16, 23:25

Cyril%20Flerov's gravatar image

Cyril Flerov

A similar question was answered here and you might find some useful info there too

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answered 15 Sep '15, 11:14

Andy's gravatar image


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question asked: 14 Sep '15, 06:39

question was seen: 3,770 times

last updated: 11 May '16, 23:25 is a community-driven website open to anyone with questions and/or answers about interpreting, i.e. spoken language translation

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