Simultaneous Interpretation

One of Valdes Language Services’ core offerings is simultaneous interpretation. Our clients that have never witnessed simultaneous interpretation or tried to hire a simultaneous interpreter often have a lot of questions. We wrote this article to address these common questions so that you have a better idea of what to expect if you are in need of this service.

What is simultaneous interpretation

Simultaneous vs consecutive interpretation

A simultaneous interpreter interprets (translates spoken words) in real time as the speaker is speaking. This type of interpretation is commonly used in large conferences, international summits, and other settings such as broadcasting of real time breaking news where immediate communication is crucial.

During a consecutive interpretation session, the speaker pauses, and the interpreter interprets during these short breaks. Consecutive interpretation is ideal for small meetings, interviews, or other settings such as a doctor-patient consultation where a natural flow of conversation is possible with intermittent pauses.

Interpretation vs translation

Although the words interpret and translate are often used interchangeably, interpretation deals with spoken or signed communication, e.g., conferences and summits, while translation deals with written content, e.g., literature and TV closed captioning.

How does simultaneous interpretation work

All simultaneous interpretation projects at Valdes Language Services require a prior consultation. It is always free. Please visit our contact page for all inquiries.

During this consultation, we will exchange information so that we have a clear and mutual understanding of the scope and requirements. Examples include the language pair, duration and location of the event, and number of speakers and participants. 

Then, we will provide you with a quote. If we come to an agreement, we will start the event planning and payment process.

In-person simultaneous interpretation process

On the day of the event, the interpreter(s) will arrive 30 minutes early to set up the simultaneous  interpretation equipment and test out the audio settings for clarity.

During the event, whenever speakers speak in the language pair for the requested interpretation service, the simultaneous interpreter(s) will interpret (translate these spoken words) in real time. 

Once the event is over, the interpreter(s) will disassemble and collect all equipment before leaving the venue.

Smaller and more intimate meetings, such as that of a doctor-patient meeting, are better settings for consecutive interpretation, in which the speaker pauses briefly, allowing for the interpreter to interpret without having to talk over the speaker. Smaller meetings also require fewer or no interpretation equipment.

Virtual simultaneous interpretation process

Remote phone and video conferencing events have a simpler interpretation process since the participants presumably already have their own audio equipment. The linguist(s) will prepare for and join the meeting ahead of time.

During the meeting, whenever speakers speak in the language pair for the requested interpretation service, the simultaneous interpreter(s) interpret (translate these spoken words) in real time.

We work with all major online video conferencing platforms, including Zoom, Webex, Teams, Skype and more.

What simultaneous interpretation equipment is needed

For in-person interpretation, all meeting participants that need to hear from the simultaneous interpreter will need a wireless receiver and accompanying headphones. The interpreter(s) will need transmitters and microphones. Depending on the venue and headcount, advanced audio systems and interpretation booths may be needed as well.

For remote interpretation, extra technological preparation rather than equipment is needed only if a subset of participants need to hear from the interpreter rather than the entire audience. If this is the case, an additional phone line or audio source would need to be prepared beforehand so that these specific participants can access the interpreters’ audio.

Valdes Language Services provides simultaneous interpretation equipment rental and setup at a discounted rate if booked together with simultaneous interpretation services.

How much does simultaneous interpretation cost

Simultaneous interpretation rates depend on a lot of factors, which is why we require a prior consultation for providing a quote.

Some factors include linguist fees, equipment fees, and logistics and travel fees.

Linguist fees vary from $120-170 an hour, depending on factors such as the language pair, duration of event, day of week of event, and venue.

Equipment fees are typically $250 up to 20 participants and $500 for up to 60 participants. Over 60 participants will depend on the head count and venue. 

Logistics and travel fees include equipment handling and hotel and transportation costs if outside the San Diego region.

Rates published on this website are for reference only and may change at any time. Discounts may also be available for repeat events, non-profits, and more. Please send us an inquiry to get an accurate quote.

How to hire a simultaneous interpreter

Evaluating a simultaneous interpreter can be difficult for someone that has little experience.

Interpretation requires a dynamic and nuanced understanding of cultural cues. This cultural component includes understanding of different dialects, tones, and informal and improvised ways of communicating. 

A simultaneous interpreter must also have the knowledge and fluidity in order to quickly interpret in real time. Therefore, the interpreter should have subject matter expertise of the meeting topic as well as the cultural background to immediately grasp the communicated words and form sentences in two different languages.

These skills are different from skills needed for translation, which are done at the translators’ pace, require more knowledge of written formality rather than verbal cues, and are more forgiving of a lack of mastery of the source language.

Therefore, we strongly recommend linguists that have training or extensive experience in interpretation rather than any linguist that has only a translating background.

Interpretation skills aside, It’s also important to ensure that the interpreters have the knowledge or support needed to ensure that the interpretation service itself is carried out smoothly in terms of logistics and technology.

Valdes Language Services is an expert language services provider that will do all the heavy lifting for you. We will hire the best interpreter for your event, prepare and coordinate everything required for the interpretation service, and provide you with competitive rates.

Send us an interpretation inquiry here.