Debra Russell


Saturday September 13th 2014

10:00 – 10:45      Keynote speaker: Debra Russell, Ph.D., Certified Interpreter

Consecutive and Simultaneous Interpreting: Research, Reality and Reflection

This presentation will provide a context for the conference presentations that follow, by reviewing the research findings about consecutive and simultaneous interpreting in legal settings, and contrasting that with other studies from spoken language researchers. In a study of courtroom interpreting with experienced interpreters, the results demonstrated that consecutive interpreting was more effective than simultaneous interpreting when dealing with Deaf witness testimony and that a blend of consecutive and simultaneous interpreting was most effective when dealing with cross-examination of a Deaf witness and expert witness testimony (Russell, 2000, 2005). The results challenge the long-held belief that because there is no auditory interference for signed language interpreters, there is no need to work consecutively, and that simultaneous is the most accurate and preferred form of interpretation.

The results also invite interpreters to consider the training required to know how to make effective discourse based decisions that will meet the needs of the participants in a given interaction. Additional research explored the ways in which our teaching of “mind tricks” influences the ways in which consecutive and simultaneous interpreting is used in our field (Russell, 2002).  Are we building on current research to ensure we are getting the skills we need for effective interpreting practice? For example, some programs approach the teaching of consecutive interpreting as a stepping-stone to simultaneous interpreting, never to be used once in the field.  Other programs integrate consecutive interpreting as a form of interpretation to be used throughout one’s career as an interpreter.

Building on research findings we will examine strategies for employing greater use of consecutive interpreting in our interpreter education programs, mentoring practices, and in our daily reality of making informed practice profession decisions in order to offer meaning-based interpretation.