Graduate school interpretation/translation programs holds Japanese-English simultaneous interpretation training

March 23, 2021

The last simultaneous translation practice of the year was held this year as part of the interpretation/translation program of the graduate school of global studies. The practice was part of the “interpretation and translation practice research 2” course within the Global Liberal Arts Program “Thinking about the possibilities of regional society” (referred to as Yamagata Study Tour).

This course is a joint program conducted by four Yamagata prefecture’s municipalities (Sagae, Shirataka, Takahata and Iide) and TUFS. Students who participated in the course spent three days discussing with citizens from the four municipalities and high school students about revitalizing regional areas and the possibilities of their continuity. Given that there were two international students taking part in the course, we were asked to provide simultaneous interpretation. Therefore, we conducted Japanese-English interpretation as practice. We used the simultaneous interpretation feature of Zoom while we did individual calls while using breakout sessions in order to provide language support. We provided interpretation for the two pre-meetings and almost the entire 3 days of the course. Details of the Yamagata study tour will be coming up soon on TUFS Today.

Here we would like to present the reports of the two students who did the interpretation: Ms. Pham and Ms. Kurita.

Ms. Pham

I felt more pressure this time given that there were not only students but also teachers working as facilitators and people from the municipalities.
There are mainly three things that I learned through this program. First, I learned to be prepared as things might not go as expected. I was asked to do simultaneous interpretation, however, I ended up doing consecutive interpretation due to some technical difficulties. I had been focusing my practice on simultaneous interpretation for the past year so consecutive did not go as smooth. However, I had to do it. I learned that unexpected things like that can happen anytime. I will keep practicing in order to be able to remain calm even under those circumstances.
Additionally, I learned the importance of communication skills. In this instance, I had to contact the facilitators to learn what I was going to be interpreting and get access to the files from a month in advance. I had to talk with the client— the international student, in advance too. It was important to learn the needs of the client and the technical aspects in order to provide a smooth interpretation. I also asked for the speakers of the municipalities to talk slowly. Through these interactions, I learned how to exchange opinions and information. Through this practice I felt the importance of not only having good interpreting skill but also good people skills more than ever.
Also, you nearly always have a partner when doing simultaneous translation so it is important to decide on each parts and time of takeover. For example, we didn’t get all the files on the last day until last minute. We realized that we couldn’t read and go through the whole thing on our own so we decided to split the work and take turns. We were taking over each other every five minutes, however we decided to split four presentations in hals so each of us was in charge of two. Each presentation was about 20 minutes long. 20 minutes interpretation seems long but splitting the work according to the presenter made the work easier. From this, I learned that cooperating with your partner is key to a successful interpretation.
I was able to reflect on my work afterwards by watching the video record of it. I still have a lot to work on but I focused on what I was told on my last practice. I am usually too focused on listening that I cannot pour myself into the interpreting part. I was told that my interpretation was hard to catch on the first time. So, I focused on speaking slower. I think it is very important to put yourself on the audience’s feet. I will keep working hard on my interpretation skills.

Ms. Kurita

I got to realize and learn a lot through this practice. I will like to present two of them.
First, I learned the importance of flexibility. Many unexpected things can happen so it is important to deal with each with flexibility. When we couldn’t use the zoom interpreting feature, we had to make individual calls to do the simultaneous interpreting. On the last day, students were still actively discussing about their group presentation which led to the slide being changed until last minute. We had to be able to work fast drawing from previous classes and the files that we did get before. I was able to learn all of this given that this experience was extremely close to a real interpreting job.
Secondly, I learned the importance of preparing yourself. As I mentioned before, unexpected things happen. It is important to be flexible but it is just as important to be prepared. For this practice, I got in contact with the administrators of the event to get documents and grasp the flow of the event. From the documents I gathered, I made a word list and a possible script. Thanks to this, I was able to remain calm even under unexpected circumstances.
I felt the importance of flexibility and preparation through this practice. There are still many things that I need to work on, but I was relieved that everything ultimately went well. I also felt somewhat accomplished as an interpreter when I was thanked by the international students. I am thankful for the opportunity and the support I was given.