Consecutive vs. Simultaneous Interpretation: What’s the Difference?

What is Consecutive Interpretation?

With consecutive interpretation, a professional interpreter waits for a speaking individual to say a complete sentence or statement before interpreting that statement in full to the speaker’s audience. This can take many different forms, and the length of the statements made can vary from one setting to the next.

In a meeting between political diplomats, for example, it’s normal to see consecutive interpreting services taking place to help those diplomats overcome a language barrier. Because these exchanges are often conversational, the length of each statement is likely to be relatively short, with many running less than one minute long. In a larger setting, for example, such as when a deposition is being read in court, or when a speaker is giving a speech to a large crowd, the statements can last for five minutes or more, putting pressure on the interpreter to hold the statement in their memory and accurately interpret the content to the audience.

In some cases, a single interpreter can be used to facilitate a two-way conversation between individuals speaking in different languages. An interpreter certified in both Japanese and English, for example, could provide interpretation between Japanese and American business leaders trying to arrange a business partnership.

Consecutive interpreting experts use special note-taking and memorization techniques to provide these on-the-spot interpretations, making it possible for interpreters to take a consecutive interpreting assignment on short notice and still deliver professional service in a live environment. Protranslating’s network of interpreters makes it easy to deploy an interpreter to any location by arranging the event with an in-house coordinator.

These services are then provided to business meetings and conferences, executive meetings, interviews, press conferences, lectures and other settings where consecutive interpretation offers the greatest value for our clients.

What is Simultaneous Interpretation?

Simultaneous interpreting is a form of interpreting that takes place almost in real-time. With a simultaneous interpretation, the interpreter’s audience typically wears headphones during a presentation or event to hear the content of that event rendered in a language they can understand. This allows the audience to experience an event in real-time while also providing interpreting in the most time-efficient manner possible.

One of the most visible examples of simultaneous interpretation is the assembly of the United Nations. In order to communicate simultaneously to an audience of representatives from around the world, simultaneous interpreting is provided through headphones to help those global ambassadors understand the content of the speech being given at the front of the room. Through a highly coordinated interpreting effort that spans multiple languages, a single speech is delivered to the representatives of nearly all the world’s nations.

Simultaneous interpretation can also be seen during some live broadcasts of televised events, when the content being broadcast into one language must be interpreted live, rather than dubbed at a later date. Remote simultaneous interpretation is becoming more common as live webcasts of events and presentations aim to reach a diverse, global audience.

The nature of simultaneous interpreting means that interpreters must be able to think quick and translate passages almost instantly. Because of the high demands of this job, interpreters often handle simultaneous interpretation in groups of two, allowing the interpreters to take turns and assist during their break by researching any terms.

To keep up with the pace of an event, interpreters must be extremely skilled at their jobs and focused on the speech being interpreted. When simultaneous interpreting is used at an event, it provides the most efficient form of interpretation while being able to serve an audience of any size.

Consecutive vs Simultaneous Interpretation: Which Should You Use?

When considering whether to go with simultaneous vs consecutive interpretation, the decision often comes down to the setting where your interpreting will take place, as well as the kind of technology available to support the interpretation.

Consecutive interpretation is a slower, more methodical type of interpretation. It’s great for one-to-one conversations because it’s able to translate speech and foster a sense of intimacy in the conversation, which makes it well-suited to business meetings. Interviews are another situation where consecutive translation is popular. When the setting is smaller and more intimate, and the language needs to be more exact, consecutive interpreting is often the way to go.

However, consecutive interpreting isn’t as effective in translating speeches or presentations, which is where simultaneous interpreting thrives. Because this approach aims to capture the intent of the content—a speaker’s general thoughts and argument, rather than the speaker’s verbatim word choice—simultaneous translation is a better fit for conveying large amounts of information delivered through speech.

Simultaneous interpreting requires certain equipment, such as a soundproof booth or the technology to facilitate remote interpreting services, and it also requires more than one interpreter, creating more logistical challenges to setting up this type of interpretation. But assuming those prerequisite tools and capabilities are in place, it has proven very successful as a means of interpreting live presentations, including presentations being live-streamed online.

Consecutive and simultaneous interpreting function in different ways, but they both provide the same essential service: The ability to communicate face-to-face with an engaged global audience. If you’re looking for interpreting services to help serve your message across cultures, languages and borders, contact us today.

What is court interpreting

What is Court Interpreting?

Court interpretation is a service provided by a court certified interpreter who is trained to interpret between English and one or more foreign languages. Interpreters work with a number of different individuals in the court system and are able to communicate directly with the individual they’re working with, providing a necessary line of communication between that individual and other representatives of the court.

A certified court interpreter carries a lot of responsibility in their role. Anything they interpret from a given individual is taken as fact, which puts pressure on the interpreter to make sure these communications are as accurate as possible. In addition to the words used, appropriate context, tone and connotation also need to be used to provide the court with the closest approximation as possible of what has been said.

Court interpretation can feature both simultaneous and consecutive services, depending on the circumstances and the preferences of the court. While consecutive interpretation is often preferred for a courtroom setting and one-on-one interviews, it’s possible that simultaneous interpretation would be used to facilitate more informal conversations.

In the United States, the most common type of court interpreter needed is one who can communicate between English and Spanish. But other language specialties are commonly required across the United States, serving non-native English speakers such as immigrants, refugees, tourists, and other individuals.

Depending on the setting for these interpretive services, the hours and nature of court interpreting can vary widely from one job to the next. While courtroom interpreters are only required when court is in session, depositions and other projects can demand long hours, including evenings and weekends, and the hours for this profession can be unpredictable, with new projects and job demands forcing interpreters to work overtime on some weeks while enjoying a lighter load at other times of the year.

Becoming a Court Certified Interpreter

Court interpreters must go through rigorous education and training before they’re able to work as certified court interpreters. Most court certified interpreters have earned a bachelor’s degree, with the most helpful majors focusing on a foreign language that could be useful in their interpreting work. Depending on the college or university, interpreting and translation-specific course loads may also be available.

After a college degree is earned, aspiring interpreters must complete a certificate program from a reputable organization such as the American Translators Association (ATA) or the National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators (NAJIT). Specialized court interpreter certificate programs are designed to provide professionals with essential interpreting skills as well as an understanding of the U.S. legal system.

These certifications are key to helping clients hire credible interpreters for various projects. Protranslating’s also has ISO 17100 certifications, providing peace of mind when you’re seeking  a linguist who knows what they’re doing.

Once interpreters have completed their court interpreter training, they’re able to enter the workforce as professional interpreters, entering a high-demand field where their specialized skills can support the mission of the U.S. court system.

Courts seeking a professional interpreter should contact us today to learn more about our interpreter services and how we’re able to connect you with an experience court interpreter. If you’re still in your pursuit of a court interpreter certificate, seek out the right program that will help you meet your goals and prepare you for an exciting, important career providing interpreting services within the court system.

Machine Translation vs. Human Translation

Can software replace a native speaker?

As you have no doubt heard, the last few years of software development have yielded significant advancements in machine translation, and dramatic improvements continue to occur. Companies such as Google, Bing and Amazon have all been refining their algorithms to make automated translation a viable option for some business applications.


So, how do you know which translation method to choose, given your specific business requirements? To help clarify the issue, here are few pros and cons of both human and machine translations.


  • The Machine Translation Option
    • The pros:
      • Usually less expensive
      • Can translate large volumes of content quickly
    • The cons:
      • Less accurate across different languages
      • Less effective for technical or creative content
      • Cannot pick up cultural nuances
      • Cannot decipher context, resulting in poor word choices and literal translations
      • Machines don’t recognize words specifically chosen for their brand power
      • Hidden costs due to having to review and revise the translations


  • The Human Translation Option
    • The pros:
      • Removes most of the negatives of using machine translation
      • Native speakers can identify and translate cultural nuances
      • Human translations can convey the brand’s intended tone and voice
      • Captures the creativity in your content
      • Can incorporate SEO keywords
    • The cons:
      • Typically more expensive than machine translation, although continuous process improvements are helping to decrease costs
    • The Hybrid Option
      • In some cases, combining machine and human translations can create the perfect balance for your company, with an initial machine translation cross-checked by a human for accuracy and authenticity. While there has been exciting progress in machine translation technology over the last couple of years, it remains in the early stages. If you’re passionate about your message being interpreted correctly across multiple languages, it still pays to inject the human element into your translations.


In deciding which approach to take, it is important to carefully consider your requirements in terms of brand consistency, overall tone, speed, quality and cost. In general, machine translation works better for product pages or specific sections where 100% accuracy is not vital. Human translation serves well for high-traffic pages and translations across multiple languages, where content, messaging and context are crucial. We’re always happy to discuss with you the best option for your next project.


How to Streamline your eLearning Localization

Tips for collaborating with your language service provider

By: Carlos Estefani, VP of Client Services | Protranslating

To maximize your collaboration with a language service provider (LSP), it is helpful to consider a few elements early in the process. Making sure your source material is in the most useable form for localization will facilitate our work and ensure the best possible training experience for your global end users.

Over many years of working with hundreds of companies to develop localized eLearning material, we’ve discovered some ways to make the process go more smoothly. Here are some tips for increasing efficiency—and saving time and money:

  • Versions of the files used in the final source products should be made available for localization. Often, technologies used for eLearning products have two versions of the source—both editable and noneditable (published) versions. If the editable version is not available, then either the localized version needs to be created from scratch following translation or, in the case of multiple languages, rebuilt before translation is begun.
  • When designing eLearning content, be sure to allow space for possible text expansion. Depending on the language, the length of localized text can increase by as much as 50 percent. If the layout of your source content leaves room for expansion, you won’t be faced with space challenges in the localized versions, which can result in development delays.
  • Sharing process information, such as screen shot scripts and asset maps, from the source creation phase can be very useful to the localization effort. This helps reduce the process design time and minimizes the issues encountered during engineering.
  • Consolidate repeated items in a single place. Often in eLearning content, certain elements will be repeated on each page (for example, the “Next” and “Back” buttons). Assemble these repeated elements in a common repository or page template so they only need to be replaced once during the localization process. If these elements are integrated into each page, then each equivalent localized version must be similarly integrated, which increases the development time.
  • Lastly, consider up front which culturally relevant items will need to be changed in each version of the training. If an eLearning product has content that is not culturally neutral, that content needs to be replaced or re-written for each localized version. For example, using images of currency from the United States would need to be changed to comparable images suitable for each country. Being aware of this during the design phase will help eliminate time-consuming revisions later.

Following these simple guidelines will help us create accurate, effective and compelling localized eLearning programs for you.

About the Author: Carlos has been with Protranslating since 1998. During this time, he has helped introduce translation technology solutions that save clients both time and money. He is currently vice president of client services and in this role serves as a liaison between Operations and Sales. Drawing on his extensive industry knowledge, he provides expert guidance on creating efficient processes in complex translation projects. Carlos received a B.A. in Economics from St. Mary’s College of Maryland.

Localize your eLearning

Making sure your training materials are effectively translated

By: Carlos Estefani, VP of Client Services | Protranslating

Savvy managers know that offering top-notch training and development is key to building and maintaining an effective, productive and skilled workforce. This is more important than ever when the reach of corporate training extends around the world, to employees in multiple cultures, speaking a variety of languages. Whether your company is large or small, effectively translating your learning materials into other languages can dramatically impact the overall quality—and job satisfaction—of your global workforce.

We’ve all been exposed to good and bad learning experiences. The best training programs are engaging, accessible and relevant. Ensuring that your corporate training meets these criteria in a global setting adds another degree of challenge to the mix. How do you ensure that the translations of your training programs are not only technically accurate but tailored to the cultural preferences and sensitivities of your global audience?

You need a language service provider (LSP) that understands your various audiences and can communicate with them so that they can best absorb and benefit from the training you offer. Protranslating is such a company. Here are some of the ways we can help you localize your corporate programs:

  • Our translators incorporate diverse cultural learning styles. These expert linguists are native speakers who understand and skillfully make use of language nuances, cultural learning styles and target reading levels when translating your company’s training materials into different languages.
  • We use culturally relevant images and graphics. The best training materials organize and reinforce their messages with colored symbols and imagery. These elements improve esthetics and enhance learning. However, you need to be sure that these elements translate well to your end users in other countries. Since colors and designs can carry different meanings in other cultures, you don’t want to offend or confuse your audience. A knowledgeable LSP will pinpoint and address any in-country sensitivities within your global learning materials design to help you to be more appealing to end users.
  • We work in multiple presentation formats. Rather than having to spend time formatting your training materials, you can rely on us to customize and manage that process for you. Simply tell us your preferred file type. We work in Captivate, Storyline, Camtasia, Flash and others.
  • Our client portal makes it easy to communicate with us. You can submit and track projects, and pay and store invoices, which speeds up your project cycle and frees you up for other training and development projects.
  • One-stop shopping saves you money. Protranslating is typically 30% less expensive than our competitors because we have an in-house studio with resources that include linguists and voice talent.

Choosing an LSP with extensive learning and development experience working with a broad range of industries and projects, as well as the technical and professional capabilities to handle multiple languages and cultures, will ensure that your corporate training programs meet their objectives every time.



About the Author: Carlos has been with Protranslating since 1998. During this time, he has helped introduce translation technology solutions that save clients both time and money. He is currently vice president of client services and in this role serves as a liaison between Operations and Sales. Drawing on his extensive industry knowledge, he provides expert guidance on creating efficient processes in complex translation projects. Carlos received a B.A. in Economics from St. Mary’s College of Maryland.

Put the Pedal to the Medal

Speed & quality go hand-in-hand when conducting global research

By: Bob McNabb, Director of Business Development | Protranslating

When conducting research, speed is crucial to success. To gather actionable insights from your data, you need to be able to understand and analyze responses before the information is out of date. If you wait too long, any insights gleaned would be irrelevant. When you have a global project, things can get complicated, and panic can start to set in.

How do I balance this tiny budget and timeframe against the need for accuracy? Do I need to cut corners on quality control steps to meet my deadline? If I cut corners on quality, what is the likelihood the data I collect is accurate? At that point, I may spend more time and money correcting and re-surveying.

Everyone’s considered this dilemma. Before letting yourself fall too far into that rabbit hole, look below for a few ways to help you stay on budget, on time, and walk away with actionable insights from good-quality, global data.

Linguists & Coders with the Right Know-How
When selecting a linguist for any given project, make sure that they have the cultural and linguistic know-how to avoid biasing the survey or responses, but technology know-how as well. Whether you are using data collection platforms such as, Qualtrics, Confirmit, Medallia, InMoment, or something similar, or various file formats like XML, programming script within Excel, or some combination, the linguist should have a strong working knowledge of how to navigate the programming text without disrupting the code and causing errors.

Determining whether to code directly in-language or first translating the responses then coding in English, has significant effect on cost and timing. Project or research objectives typically drive the decision, but an experienced coder can guide you through the nuances. When appropriate, you can save time and money by coding directly in-language. In addition, poorly written open-ended questions may not provide the correct data. Allow your coders to assess the questions before data collection so they can help you fine-tune your survey and capture insights. It is just like the saying – “garbage in, garbage out.”

Translation Memory & CAT Tools
Technology is always changing and improving our lives. Within the language industry, it does just that: Translation Memory and CAT tools help speed up the translation process by maintaining consistency. When utilizing these technologies, the translator is able to manage an entire translation in one place (CAT tool). If there is repetition, the system auto-populates the translator’s previous words, leaving them to simply approve the input, and making the process move much faster. This is important for pre- and post-comparisons, say you’re gauging brand awareness, you don’t want to see a change in data because a question was translated differently from one point in time to another.

Machine Translation with Human Editing
Machine Translation is great for speeding up the translation process of open-ended responses. Given this, it only becomes beneficial if you have a large volume of open-ended responses. That said, there are always two sides to the coin. When respondents have the freedom to use their own words, it’s important to include a human element to review the machine’s work, ensuring it accounts for all cultural nuances.

Global Project Management Teams
It is crucial to have ’round-the-clock service no matter where you are located. For example, there is a 12-hour time difference between Miami and Beijing. If a change is requested by someone in Miami in the middle of their workday, their colleagues in Beijing won’t see that request until the next morning when they get into the office. This could cost you an entire days’ worth of translation work. Balance your project managers around the sun and you’ll save days. If you take these factors into consideration before you begin this process, you will save time, money, and headaches in the long run. If you’re not managing the translations yourself, be sure to ask your language service provider whether they are utilizing these techniques before getting started.

About the Author: Bob is a consummate market research professional with a career spanning 23 years, including data programming and analysis, report development, project management, and consultation to Fortune 100 conglomerates. The types of research he has conducted includes, new product development, optimization, and reformulation, branding, ATU, and much more. Over the last 5 years, Bob has been assisting market research suppliers and clients providing top-notch translation and customer service and is currently working with Protranslating. Bob was a pitcher in high school and had a brush with the Hall of Fame, though he didn’t know it at the time. In a legion baseball game in 1986, he threw two pitches to eventual Hall of Famer Mike Piazza. Of course, the second pitch landed over the left-center field fence for a home run. Better luck next time.