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Simultaneous translation is considered the most complex, energy-intensive and highly paid type of translation. From this article you will learn how to become a simultaneous interpreter, where simultaneous interpreters are taught, how simultaneous translation is performed, how much simultaneous interpreters earn.

Simultaneous translation is a type of oral translation, which is carried out simultaneously with the receipt of a speech message in a foreign language. However, it is worth clarifying the concept of simultaneity.

From the outside, it may seem that the translator gives the translation right after the speaker, but this is not so: it is impossible to listen and translate at the same time, so the translator always lags behind the speaker. Moreover, most often it is unprofitable for the translator to follow with a minimum lag behind the speaker: this way he loses the opportunity to hear more information and give a more complete translation.

How did simultaneous translation appear?

Simultaneous translation is one of the youngest types of translation (only film translation and localization of computer games are younger). It arose after the First World War – at that time there was an active development of international relations.

In the USSR, simultaneous translation was first used in 1928, then in 1933 and 1935. Already at that time, the world realized how promising and useful simultaneous translation was, but until the middle of the 20th century it was not widespread.

So, in the main international organization of that time, the League of Nations, consecutive translation was used. It looked like this: the interpreter listened to the speaker, took notes, and only after the end of the whole speech went to the microphone and recounted what the speaker said.

In 1945, the Nuremberg trials began, which had to be conducted in four languages ​​at once: French, German, English and Russian. For this, after all, simultaneous translation was better suited, which has since begun to supplant consecutive translation.

It is no exaggeration to call the Nuremberg trial interpreters the pioneers of simultaneous interpreting: the equipment was primitive, and there was no clear idea of ​​how best to interpret. These first simultaneous interpreters became the first theoreticians and practitioners of simultaneous translation, thanks to whom it became possible to learn simultaneous translation.

Today, simultaneous translation is widespread not only in international organizations. It is performed at conferences, major scientific and business events, and at film festivals.

Where and how is simultaneous translation performed?

Simultaneous translation is performed in a special booth or booth, which can be portable or stationary. A portable booth is a superstructure that is placed on a table, and special equipment is located inside.

It is a control panel with a built-in microphone or headset jacks. There are several buttons on the dashboard. The most important is to turn the microphone on/off, the second most important is the pause, or in the lingo of the translators “cough”. The name speaks for itself.

Although simultaneous translation is performed spontaneously after the speaker, the interpreter must prepare for each event: he studies the topic and vocabulary, and prepares supporting materials. Sometimes an interpreter is lucky – a recording of a speaker’s speech or a presentation falls into his hands. However, this rarely happens, because in most cases the speakers do not know that they will be translated.

Types of simultaneous translation

There are several types of simultaneous translation and professional passport translation. Next, we will talk about the features of each of them.

Translation by ear

The most famous type of simultaneous translation. When translating by ear, the translator listens to the speaker and voices the translation with a minimum delay from the original message.

Sight Translation

In this case, the translator has a record or abstract of the forthcoming speech. Sight translation is easier than listening translation, because the interpreter has the opportunity to know the content of the speech in advance.

Reading from a sheet

With this type of synchronism, the interpreter is provided with a script of the speaker’s speech, which he translates in advance: during the event, he only has to read the prepared translation after the speaker.


This is a type of simultaneous translation in which the interpreter sits next to the customer and whispers the translation to him. No need to rent special equipment and a cabin for whispering, so it is cheaper for the customer. Its disadvantage is that the translator’s whispers can disturb listeners who do not need translation.

How to become a simultaneous interpreter?

To become a simultaneous interpreter, you need to take training in simultaneous translation. If you want to become a simultaneous best certified interpreters, you must be fluent in a foreign language at a very high level. This is a basic requirement.

Ideally, you need to have a higher language education. Before you start learning simultaneous, you must also have experience in less labor- and energy-intensive types of translation, such as written or consecutive.

You can learn on your own, for example, from videos and textbooks that are in the public domain. A good result with this approach is not guaranteed: even for a translator with experience in other types of translation, at the initial stage it is very important to receive feedback from an experienced teacher.

Simultaneous translation is taught in special courses at language universities: it can be part of the program or go as a separate training.

For consecutive interpreters and translators who want to learn simultaneous translation outside of universities, simultaneous translation courses are available.

Our translation school regularly conducts a three-stage training course for simultaneous interpreters: depending on the level of preparation, a future student can choose an introductory , advanced or super-advanced course . During the training, students perform exercises to hone their simultaneous translation skills.

Simultaneous interpreter skills

In this part, we will talk about what skills and qualities a simultaneous interpreter needs.

A simultaneous interpreter needs:

  • Be proficient in a foreign language

A simultaneous interpreter is able to speak a foreign language fluently, owns its phraseology, understands the “dirty” speech of the speaker.

  • Own translation transformations

Compression: to be able to reduce or expand information and convey it without semantic loss.

For example, a translation into Russian often comes out longer than the original statement. Conversely, the English language tends to be concise and concise forms of expression.

  • Be able to translate non-equivalent vocabulary

Not every word or expression from one language can be fully matched in another. In this case, translators resort to descriptive translation. No less important is the linguistic intuition and horizons of the translator – they help to translate even seemingly untranslatable statements.

  • Have a developed short-term memory and master the skill of probabilistic forecasting

To give the most complete translation, you need to remember the maximum amount of what the speaker said. Short-term memory can be developed, as well as the ability to predict the end of a statement – there are exercises for this.

  • Be stress-resistant and physically resilient

Simultaneous interpreters work under extreme mental overload: just try listening, translating and speaking almost simultaneously.

How much does a simultaneous interpreter earn?

Simultaneous translation is considered the highest paid type of translation. Synchronists charge by the hour. The amount of the rate depends on the language of translation, the experience of the translator, the theme of the event. It can vary from 3 thousand to 10 thousand per hour of work.


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