UN Interpreter Training

UN Interpreter Training

The UN has a great page of tips to prepare for their interpreting exam.

Check it out:

https://languagecareers.un.org/content/examinations-interpreters

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Resources for Practicing Japanese to English Interpretation

Resources for Practicing Japanese to English Interpretation

Recently, I have been looking for more ways to practice interpreting Japanese into English. But it is harder than you might think to find good resources. Even though there is a wealth of Japanese material out there, it is hard to find any that fits the general guidelines for good interpreting practice material.

What makes a good interpreting practice resource

Drawing from several different sources (see below), I have come to the conclusion that J>E practice material should be the following:

  1. 3-5 minutes in length
  2. with one speaker
  3. on a topic of a general nature (narrative, argument, explanation, etc)
  4. with clear audio (not muffled or recorded in a noisy environment)
  5. with a transcript (for checking meaning)
  6. with an English translation (when possible)

Obviously, these are ideal conditions for a beginner practice session. Once you have gotten used to these, you can move on to longer resources, with more than one speaker, on a more specialized topic. But if you want to be successful in practicing, I recommend you start easy and progress to more difficult. You may find it harder than you think at first.

Recommended Resources?

Given these conditions, I have only found three good resources. I explained one in the last post: Japanese to English Speech Interpreting Practice.

The second one is NHK Easy News. The benefit to these short news casts is that the audio is slow, but still natural paced, and there is a transcript. There is no English translation, but because the vocabulary has been simplified, it should be easy enough to understand. Also, they are short so it makes great quick practice.

The third is FluentU. With this site, you can access videos in Japanese (or several other languages) which have been transcribed and have vocabulary lists pre-generated. However, they do not allow you control over how you print the transcript. It automatically prints in a huge font with furigana. This means that it takes up several pages, making it difficult to use for something like sight translation. Also, the video topics vary a lot so you have to be choosy.

Resources:

Conference Interpreting: A Student’s Practice Book by Andrew Gillies

同時通訳者の英語ノート術&学習法 by 工藤 紘実

はじめてのウィスパリング同時通訳 by 柴田バネッサ清美

Japanese to English Speech Interpreting Practice

Japanese to English Speech Interpreting Practice

In Andrew Gillies’ book, Conference Interpreting: A Student’s Practice Book, one of the first pieces of advice he gives is to work into your strongest language when practicing. For me, that means I should practice interpreting Japanese into English, not the other way around (which I have always found to be easier).

With that in mind, I have been looking for material that is suitable for practicing interpretation. Gillies goes on to explain that such material should have a narrative and be of a reasonable length without being overly technical (at least in the beginning). He adds that news broadcasts are about the worst thing you could chose because they change topics approximately every 90 seconds. Since that is almost all I listen to, I went in search of some real speeches in Japanese.

I was able to find this site which has the script from several speeches made by Prime Minister Abe, along with their English translation. A few even have the video of the speech, which makes them ideal for practicing.

http://www.mofa.go.jp/mofaj/press/enzetsu/e_souri.html

So far, this is the best resource I have come up with. If anyone finds others, please share them.

Book Review: 同時通訳者の英語ノート術&学習法

Book Review: 同時通訳者の英語ノート術&学習法

Best Book Ever

I recently finished reading this book, 「同時通訳者の英語ノート術&学習法」by 工藤 紘実 and I have to say that it was probably the best introduction to interpretation that I have ever read. While it is titled as a simple note-taking and study book, it is so much more than that. It explains a lot of the foundational skills of interpreting that I had to learn the hard way.

Upside: This book covers a lot of the basics of interpreting like- when and how to take notes, how to study as an interpreter, how to manage vocabulary, how to get jobs and maintain clients as a feelancer, and how to manage your own time and stress.

Downside: I do wish it had had a little more on how to gain background knowledge and how to study for a particular job, but that may be too far out of the scope of this book.

Conclusion: Go buy it now! (You can even on kindle!)

Study All the Things: How a Translator Studies Japanese in the U.S.

Study All the Things: How a Translator Studies Japanese in the U.S.

study-all-the-thingsSo, let’s start with a disclaimer. I live in the mid-west in the United States of America; far removed from the country of Japan or even the Japanese communities of California and New York. While I work at a Japanese company and have exposure to the language every day, that is not enough to keep up translator level language skills. I need to expose myself to a lot more language. In a sense, I have to create my own immersion environment. So, here is how I do it. I am going to share with you the resources I use and the way they help with my translation and interpretation skills and practice.

Reading of the Paper Variety

booksOnce a year, I manage to get to a Japanese book store, either in Portland, OR, where my family is from, or in Japan when I’m on business trips. While there, I buy up a bunch of books to read for the year. Some of them turn out to be boring, some interesting, but I try to give them at least 2 or 3 chapters before giving up. I try not to force my way through books that I dislike, because I will just give up reading all together. I also get a good mix of fiction, non-fiction, technical, magazines, and manga.

The fiction helps me make my interpreting more natural. I usually read novels that are based in everyday life so that I can reuse the phrases I learn in my interpretation. On the other hand, the non-fiction seems to help with my writing. Self-help type books are usually written in a very clear and easy to understand manner. I can reuse a lot of the grammar and structures in my Japanese translations. The magazines help me to stay in touch with current issues in Japan. I love Nikkei Woman! After falling in love with it on my last trip to Kinokuniya in Portland, I have been having it ordered monthly from Japan through our parent company.

On that note: If you work for a Japanese company, it is likely that packages come in from Japan every month for your 駐在員. If you have a good relationship with them, you may be able to request a book or two and get free shipping 🙂 Try not to go overboard; one or two a month max. If that is not you, try a forwarding service like Tenso or White Rabbit Express.  Kinokuniya also has a lot of books in stock in the US and if they don’t have it, they will order it for you Japan, though they mark up quite a lot to cover the import and shipping costs.

Reading of the Digital Variety

I try to keep up with a couple different online publications:

Reading Techniques

bb6fe80bWhen I’m reading anything, digital or otherwise, I have two basic rules:

  1. Read the document to the end. If it is a novel, that means finishing the chapter as it would be hard to read the whole thing in one sitting. But with a news article I try very hard not to stop in the middle. It is important to finish the idea and get a grasp of the entire discourse.
  2. Only look up a word when: A) it has occurred more than once in a document and/or B) it is crucial to understanding the content of the document. If you look up every word you don’t know, you will go crazy.

Then when I find those words that I don’t know in a dictionary, I do one of three things:

  1. Acknowledge the definition and keep reading. Some words do not need to be remembered or written down. You will actually acquire them better if you just keep reading and let the word take form in the context of the document instead of trying to tie it down and memorize it with an English definition.
  2. Jot it down in a note book and keep going. Generally I do this for phrases that I want to remember and use later, especially those that would be nearly impossible to find in a dictionary; for example, slang terms.
  3. Jot it down on a sticky note to be actively studied.

As much as it might surprise you, number three is the one I do the least. Only when I encounter a word that I have been looking for and wanted to use in daily interactions, will I actually make an effort to study it. Usually, I do number one more than anything: figure out what it means and move on. You will get farther in the actual reading that way.

Listening

For this one, I am mainly going to give you a list of resources, as I don’t ‘study’ listening per se.

  • NHK News – At least once a week. Good for professional phrasing in your interpreting and background knowledge about what is going on in Japan.
  • KORL 97.1 – Japanese pop music radio station in Hawaii streamed through the iheartradio app.
  • TuneIn Radio app – Japanese radio live, great for listening to natural, unscripted conversations.

Watching

terebi

I distinguish this from listening because, while the skill is primarily auditory, the visual component makes it easier to understand what is being said. With youtube, it is actually relatively easy to get a quick shot of Japanese tv any time. I like to chose videos that wil help with my translation but, honestly, sometimes you just have to have fun with the language.

  • FNN News Youtube Channel – Short videos, good for interpreting practice.
  • 小紫真由美 話し方・プレゼンの専門家 – Videos by a former announcer on how to speak clearly and comprehensibly in Japanese.
  • Japanese Commercial Channel – This almost has no redeeming value, but it is fun.
  • Fuji, TBS, and NHK – Keeping up with what’s on tv even when you don’t have time to watch all the shows.
  • NHK高校講座 – A delightful website that streams several tv shows aimed at high-schoolers that cover the various topics they are studying in school. The content is simple, but the vocabulary you can pick up is very useful. They also have subjects like 日本史 and 国語表現 that those of us who were raised in the US didn’t get to take.

Then, of course, I will sit down and watch a full drama from time to time, but I can’t put links to those here.

If you have any resources to share or questions about studying in a Japanese void, feel free to leave me a comment.

One Rule in Practicing Interpreting: Just do it!

One Rule in Practicing Interpreting: Just do it!

I came across this article that I wanted to share with you all. A pair of sisters (twins!) who work together as simultaneous interpreters wrote about the most important rule for practicing interpreting. Stick with it. When you decide to interpret a video or audio recording for practice, don’t give up halfway through. Commit to it and keep going, no matter how bad the interpretation comes out.

Read more here:

http://translationtimes.blogspot.com/2014/10/our-number-one-rule-for-interpreting.html

Excel Vocabulary Notebook and Flashcard Template

Excel Vocabulary Notebook and Flashcard Template

How do you keep your vocabulary lists?

I have read that a lot of interpreters prefer to write them by hand because it helps you remember them. While I see the merit of that, I like to keep something on the computer so I can easily search for certain words. With that in mind, I found this great excel template for vocabulary lists. It has a notebook and a sheet that will randomly generate flashcards for you. Even if you don’t speak Japanese, it is still pretty easy to use.

Check it out!

xls15_tut_img02