Simultaneous Interpretation

This is probably the best known form of interpretation, due to its widespread use in international conferences. The interpreters listen to the speaker through headphones from inside special booths and translate virtually simultaneously into a microphone. The audience listens through headphones.  The interpreters tend to alternate every 20-30 minutes because of the high level of concentration required.  Although simultaneous interpretation requires special equipment (booths, microphones, headphones), it allows conferences to flow without interruption, thus increasing the time available.  It is the only solution of acceptable quality for events using more than two languages.

Consecutive Interpretation

The speaker delivers part of his speech, which is then repeated in translated form by the interpreter, from notes and memory.  This form of interpretation tends to be used during bilateral contacts and negotiations between small groups.


In special circumstances and for a limited time period, the interpreter may sit alongside one or at most two listeners and provide them with a whispered simultaneous interpretation.


Despite the different available forms of interpretation, the types of communication for which they are mostly favored or their basic advantages and limitations, there is one fundamental point present in them all: the quality of communication begins and is essentially defined by fully comprehending the initial message. Only then can the meaning of words and their context be ‘transcribed’ into the language of the listener.

Understanding requires thorough preparation, while accuracy in meaning demands of interpreters the rare ability of moving between different cultural approaches and ways of thinking, constantly and with ease, choosing their common ground.