What Is Simultaneous Interpretation And How Does It Work? - Speak Your Language | Australia

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What Is Simultaneous Interpretation And How Does It Work?

Posted on: May 22, 2023 by admin

Simultaneous interpretation occurs when an interpreter translates the content of a speech on the fly to an audience. A skilled interpreter can analyse, deconstruct, and predict the structure of a text in a different language to convey it in a different dialect simultaneously. You may have seen this kind of interpreter at work in an interpreting booth, which is often a built-in feature of conference rooms that host multicultural or multilingual symposiums.


A simultaneous interpreter must be a skilled linguist with a great grasp of syntax and the fluency to talk while still actively listening. Being fluent in another language doesn’t necessarily qualify you as an interpreter – you must have experience with converting syntax into appropriate patterns and adjusting sentence length to reflect the natural cadence of the language being interpreted.

How Does Simultaneous Translation Work?


A conference interpretation is a situation where simultaneous interpretation services are generally required. The interpreter will sit in a booth and talk into a headset or a stationary microphone. The delegates of the symposium – let’s assume our interpreter is translating for a United Nations meeting, one of the frequent uses of simultaneous interpretation — will have wireless receivers, in which they can listen to the translation in real-time. They can therefore match the body language and tone of the speaker with the content of the speech, an ability that is lost in consecutive interpretation.


When Are Simultaneous Interpretation Services Used?


People may wonder what simultaneous translation is without realising that it is an essential feature of world politics. Every time a multinational decision is reached at a symposium, simultaneous interpretation services are an unseen feature of the agreement. They are most commonly used during Presidential speeches, business meetings, court, lectures, and presentations. When compared to consecutive interpretation, simultaneous interpretation is used in more formal settings, where it is important to understand the speech in real time with human cadence.


The Pros And Cons Of Simultaneous Interpretation


Conference interpretation services offer several benefits to native speakers that are not acquired during consecutive interpretation. Consecutive interpretation refers to a translation that is completed after a speech has been delivered.



  • Simultaneous interpretation allows non-speakers to understand a speaker’s body language and intonation whilst a speech is being performed in a foreign language. This greatly contributes to the overall meaning and message of the speech and would be missed in a written translation.
  • Simultaneous interpretation services keep an audience engaged while a speech is being presented in another language. It allows people of different cultures to understand and appreciate the content of a speech together; this is especially important at summits or symposiums.
  • Conference interpretation is done extremely accurately as the translator is translating in real-time and not relying on memory and notes to create a written translation



  • Simultaneous interpretation is an expensive way of translating as the mental effort required to process, talk, and translate in two dialects is significant. Due to this complexity, an interpreter can only work in 20 to 30-minute bursts, and at least two interpreters for each language are required.
  • The extra cost is also reflected by the price of high-quality audio equipment, receivers, and headsets to ensure a smooth translation for all audience members.
  • The pace at which the conference interpretation must be delivered is fast, which may make for a slightly stilted, halting, or syntactically awkward translation. The extremely quick processing speed required may not allow the interpreter to find the most suitable word or phrase for the speech.


Simultaneous interpretation is a very specialised but useful skill to recruit. Whether these services are required for a board meeting, lecture, or symposium, they are essential to multi-lingual understanding. A competent simultaneous interpreter is necessary to ensure the right message is being conveyed to guests. It is an extremely high-stakes job that requires a fast processing speed and a myriad of cultural, political, and scientific knowledge over both languages. Contact Speak Your Language to hire the most qualified simultaneous interpreters in up to 120 dialects.