Online Simultaneous Interpreting Practicum for Graduate School's Japanese-English Applied Interpretation and Translation Program

July 30, 2021

The “Applied Interpretation and Translation Studies 1” course of the Graduate School of Global Studies’ Japanese-English Applied Interpretation and Translation Program conducted two online simultaneous interpreting practicums in collaboration with an undergraduate class of simultaneous interpretation. Using Zoom’s language translation tools, students interpreted English presentations from the undergraduate students into Japanese for the first class. During the second class, graduate students made simultaneous interpretations of Japanese into English.
We would like to introduce comments from two graduate students and two undergraduate students who participated as interpreters and as presenters/audience, respectively.

(1) Comments from the students who did English to Japanese simultaneous interpretation

  • SASAKI Yusuke (Graduate School of Global Studies’ Japanese-English Applied Interpretation and Translation Program, second year student) The first practicum took place online in the first period for May 31. Undergraduate students made presentations on economics which were simultaneously interpreted by the four graduate students. We had time to meet up with our partnering students one week in advance of the class. During that meeting, we introduced ourselves and checked the topics of the presentation. We exchanged material and drafts using Zoom’s chat feature and emails. In preparing for the practicum, I made a vocabulary list based on the material and drafts. Additionally, I looked up relevant topics on the Iinternet so that I could gain background knowledge. I put together proprietary nouns and other expressions that I needed to consult with the presenter regardless of the availability of a standard translation. We had time for a final meeting with the presenters moments before the practicum began, so I made final checks then. Presentation began after the final meeting and the presenters and interpreters alike tried to give their best. Personally, I felt that the grammar differences between English and Japanese create an unnecessary gap between subject and verb when interpreting English into Japanese. At the end of the class, we received feedback from the undergraduate students and teachers. I was able to get valuable advice that will make my future interpretations better. I do not have many chances to objectively analyze my own interpreting so I was glad to be able to get feedback. I want to thank the teachers and undergraduate students for getting together to make this event possible amidst the covid-19 pandemic.

  • OBUCHI Marina (School of Culture and Language Studies, 3rd year German major) I had experience with consecutive interpreting as it was part of the assignments of our class. I knew that thorough preparation is needed when it comes to interpreting, however, simultaneous interpreting requires much more preparing as it is quite different from consecutive interpreting. In consecutive interpreting, the speaker usually stops after speaking for a while. However, this does not happen in simultaneous interpreting. The presentation keeps on going while you are interpreting so I was very impressed to see how calmly the graduate students continued interpreting. They were picking up the key points of the presentation rather than interpreting every single word so they did not get left behind. I think they were able to remain calm because they had prepared in advance by making word lists of proprietary nouns and other technical terms while also studying the topic of the presentation. You also have to make a word list for consecutive interpreting, but you do not have time to look at that list while doing simultaneous interpreting so I figured the interpreters had memorized the words in advance. Everyone struggled to interpret detailed examples and numbers; it seemed very difficult. When asked if they looked at the draft while interpreting, everyone answered that they did not. I was very surprised. They said that focusing on a draft can make you anxious if you get lost so they focused on listening to what the speaker is saying. Listen careful and interpret immediately. It seems simple but the reality is that it is extremely difficult so you have to keep a sharp mind.

(2) Comments from the students who did Japanese to English simultaneous interpretation

  • OOKAWA Naomi (Graduate School of Global Studies' Japanese-English Applied Interpretation and Translation Program second year student)
    This second practicum was different as the interpreting was done from Japanese to English. The graduate students collaborated with us again so we interpreted their presentations. The topic of the first practicum was economics but this time the presentations were more personal. The speakers talked freely about what they wanted to communicate, from their hobbies to their hometowns. I wanted to keep up with their expectations so I was motivated to prepare in advance. I tried to take full advantage of the files I got beforehand, gathering related information and studying backgrounds. At the same time, I took time to make a word book and write down expected sentences. We had time for a final meeting with the speaker on the day of the presentation. I asked some final questions and exchanged words of encouragement with the speaker. I tried to suppress my anxiety and did my best not to miss any words. We used Zoom’s interpreting tool for the practicum. There was no time for relaxing as there were problems with the mic. This was an extremely valuable opportunity considering that online interpretation is becoming more common. We had time to reflect on our presentation after the practicum and I was able to see my performance objectively. I was also able to learn many things by exchanging opinions and advice. There are no second chances in interpreting, however, this time for reflection gave me valuable insight that will improve my future interpreting. This program differs from other programs that focus on having students interpret as many times as possible. In this program, you are able to polish your abilities and gain academic knowledge by doing thorough preparation and reflection. More practicums are expected and I wish to continue doing my best in each and every one of them.

  • OBATA Ayumi (School of Culture and Language Studies, 3rd year German major)
    This collaboration marked the first time I saw live simultaneous interpreting and I was most surprised by its technical prowess. The graduate students interpreted our words so smoothly that it did not seem like they were doing it simultaneously. We also do interpreting practicums but I was impressed to see how they barely looked at the drafts, contrary to what we would have done. After the presentation, I found it very hard to give any feedback as the interpreting was so good. I gained more than just technical knowledge. The graduate student who was in charge of interpreting my presentation showed extreme consideration to myself by letting me know they had received my draft immediately and also checking the translation of certain words with me. There were interpreters who checked the sound in advance and even bought and read comic books that were mentioned in the presentation making me feel how involved they were. I hope to take the graduate students as my reference and apply my findings to my own interpreting. I want to thank our lecturer, Ms. Nishihata, and the graduate students for providing us with this opportunity.