Section 7 - Consecutive Dialogue

Consecutive interpreting is also known as dialogue interpreting. In this mode, the interpreter listens to the message in the source language and communicates it in the target language so that both speakers, who do not speak a common language, can effectively communicate. Each speaker pauses while the interpreter interprets.

Consecutive interpreting is normally done in court to interpret witness testimony when the witness does not speak the language of the court. Consecutive interpreting gives the interpreter more time to analyse and convert the message before delivery. However court proceedings interpreted in the consecutive mode take up to three times longer than proceedings in English or French alone.

When do you interpret in the consecutive mode in court?

You will interpret in the consecutive mode when interpreting for a witness at the witness stand. You may also have to interpret in this mode in court proceedings when the judge poses a question directly to the accused, as in a sentencing hearing.

Consecutive Dialogue

Due to the monolingual nature of the English test, you will be asked to repeat the English dialogue that you hear in English, rather than translating it into your other language. This exercise tests your aptitude to perform consecutive interpreting.

What will be tested?

In the consecutive dialogue task, you will hear an examination of an expert witness in court. The examination is broken up into segments. After each segment, there will be a pause during which you will be given time to reproduce the whole message in English, as you hear it.

You may take notes if you need to, but you should limit them to dates, numbers, names and unfamiliar terms. Taking too many notes could interfere with your ability to listen, understand and recall what has been said. This part of the test contains about 1,000 words.

Practicing consecutive dialogue

This manual contains three practice texts for the consecutive dialogue task, along with a list of scoring units for one of the texts.

Before you start your practice session for the consecutive dialogue exercise, you will need to open and start the audio files that accompany this manual.

You will also need a recording device to record your performance.

To practice the consecutive dialogue exercise, follow the 7 stages listed below.

Stage 1: Preparation for consecutive dialogue

  • Have a notepad and a pen ready.
  • Start the pre-recorded audio file of the source text dialogue. You should listen to the recording using a headset.

Stage 2: Initial consecutive dialogue

  • Start the voice recorder. You will record your English repetition using this device.
  • Listen attentively to the first segment. Take any notes you think are necessary for recall (names, dates, numbers), but do not let note-taking distract you from careful listening.
  • When there is a pause in the dialogue, repeat what you have heard in English to the best of your ability. Try to repeat exactly what you have heard. You may use your notes if necessary.
  • Repeat these steps for each segment, until you complete the last segment.
  • Stop the audio and the voice recorder.

Stage 3: Comparison of initial consecutive dialogue with repetition of pre-recorded dialogue

  • Start the audio file at the beginning of the consecutive dialogue. Listen attentively again to the first segment. You may listen to the segment as often as necessary to grasp its meaning and take notes. Stop the audio file before moving on to the following step.
  • Start your own voice recording at the beginning. Listen attentively to your repetition of segment 1 and compare it with the first segment of the source text dialogue. Note all the elements of meaning that you have missed. Also note any poor expression in English. Pay particular attention to:
    1. Content,
    2. Grammar,
    3. Pronunciation and fluency.
  • Repeat these steps for each segment, until you complete the last segment.

Stage 4: Comparison of initial consecutive dialogue with written text of dialogue

This stage helps if there are parts of the recorded source text that you have not heard well.

  • Start the voice recorder at the beginning of your repetition.
  • Read the first segment in the written text and compare your repetition against it. Underline the words, expressions and segments that appear to be wrong.
  • Repeat this step for each segment, until you complete the last segment.

Stage 5: Analysis and resolution of problems

  • Examine the notes you have taken during Stages 3 and 4 and analyse any words, expressions and segments that you missed or think are wrong. Try to determine why they caused you problems.
    Was it because:
    • you did not understand the word or expression?
    • you did not remember something that was said earlier?
  • Think of ways you can correct these mistakes. Do any basic research required.

    Note: While some dictionary consultation may be necessary, avoid looking up too many words in dictionaries at this point. In an actual situation, you may not have an opportunity to consult a dictionary consultation during consecutive interpreting; so you should not rely on a dictionary for too much help during practice of consecutive dialogue. Try to understand words and expressions using the context (i.e. the surrounding text).

  • If you are working on a consecutive dialogue with scoring units provided, review the scoring units at this stage. Listen again to your recording of the consecutive dialogue, paying particular attention to the scoring units indicated. Note the units you got correct. Determine how to correct those you missed.
  • If you are working on a consecutive dialogue where scoring units are not provided, examine the written dialogue and underline words and phrases that could be considered scoring units. Then listen again to your recorded consecutive dialogue, paying particular attention to those words and phrases. Note the units you got correct. Determine how to correct those you missed.

Stage 7: Final consecutive dialogue

  • Redo the consecutive dialogue, following Stages 1 through 5
  • Try to deliver a more accurate and smoother rendition of the dialogue

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