Consecutive interpreting is the process during which a speaker says a few sentences whilst the interpreter listens actively and takes notes – or not. Then the speaker pauses, while the interpreter analyses the speech and then reproduces what the speaker has said in the target language. In short consecutive interpreting session, the speaker will pause every few sentences. In long consecutive interpreting, the speaker will continue for longer before pausing, and then allow the interpreter to provide the consecutive translation.
Consecutive interpreting works for small gatherings or one-on-one meetings where the conversation allows speakers to pause so that the interpreter may reproduce the conversation into another language. A good interpreter needs to master three essential skills: to listen actively in order to remember and reproduce what was said, to take notes in order to prioritise information and to reproduce what was said accurately and faithfully.
Consecutive interpreters must have a perfect mastery of the source and target languages, and excellent memory to remember what was said. They should also possess good note-taking skills and use symbols, words, abbreviations and more. Further, they need to be able to use idioms and know cultural intricacies so that what they interpret does not offend anyone, while using sophisticated terminology. The interpreter should have in-depth information about their client, whether they work for a business meeting or a Court hearing.
People that speak more than one language cannot simply become consecutive interpreters. Specialist interpreter training courses and academic interpreting qualifications are offered to that effect. However, it is commonly known that while training and certifications are an excellent way to gain additional skills, interpreters also need to bring plenty of experience to the table.