How to Improve Business English Communication through Interpreter Training

A Must-Read for Business People! Learn correct English quickly with Interpreter Training

May 9, 2016

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Interpreter Training, Language Proficiency

People often tend to think that interpreter training is a specialized training taken by those aiming to become professional interpreters, but in reality it is also a simple and suitable method for people who would like to improve their language proficiency in an effective manner. Using this method, one can quickly learn to understand a foreign language accurately, which makes it highly effective in professions where English is used as a business language in addition to being helpful in the general study of foreign languages. In this article, we will explain interpreter training with the English language from a Japanese point of view as an example.

Practice Speaking while Listening: The Shadowing Technique

"Shadowing", a technique that involves repeating the words of the English speaker in the same way one hears them, is the basis of interpreter training. It may appear to be a very simple task, but it is surprisingly difficult when you actually try it out, as it requires a very high level of concentration. You may get stuck at first when you come across some words in the speaker's conversation that you do not understand, but the essence is to continue listening and reproduce the words even if you do not understand them.

For example, while having a conversation in English at work with a colleague of another nationality, even if one has good concentration at first and pays full attention to the speaker, it may become exceedingly difficult to make sense of the ongoing conversation if concentration is lost midway. Likewise, haven't you ever faced a situation where you put so much focus in getting your English right, that you eventually lost track of what the speaker was trying to convey? This is because while conversing in Japanese may come naturally to you, speaking a foreign language is more complex, as it requires a great deal of concentration.

Therefore, if you practice shadowing regularly, you may become more comfortable with the speaking and listening involved in actual business communication. It is important that you consistently practice on a daily basis, even for only a few minutes. Also, it would be more effective if you can practice "Sight Translation" along with this, where you need to break the English text into meaningful blocks, and translate it to Japanese starting from the top using the same word sequence of the original English text.

Reproduction Technique to Enhance Memory and Comprehension

Once you have become familiar with shadowing, you can start practicing "reproduction" which consists in listening to longer sentences or paragraphs in one stretch, pause the audio temporarily, and then repeat the conversation of the speaker word by word. This technique will significantly improve the ability to memorize an audio conversation. In order to memorize the conversation, it is important that you also understand the structure and meaning of the sentence. Therefore, this whole process of memorization contributes to enhancing your overall foreign language capability.

While listening to a conversation in English, you may feel that you have completely understood what was being said, but later on you may, for example, face difficulty in recollecting what you heard. You may have understood the words in isolation, but unless you are able to understand their place in the entire sentence, you will most often find it difficult to memorize the content, and this is when the reproduction technique comes in handy.

On the other hand, the act of transcribing the audio piece is called "dictation." We recommend this method, as it also helps to verify your spelling and pay more attention to details when compared to the reproduction technique.

Try Doing Consecutive Interpretation

Once you have practiced shadowing and reproduction well enough to be able to somewhat understand the English conversation as it happens, you can also try your hand at "Consecutive Interpretation." To start, you can listen to a short sentence, take notes while you listen if required, and once you have finished listening to the audio piece, translate what you have just heard. Since this task will require you to listen, comprehend, memorize, and translate the content all at the same time, your English capability will be utilized to the fullest and your concentration will also improve in the process.

After becoming acquainted with "consecutive interpretation," you may put your skills to practical use in your workplace when someone may "need help with a little interpretation." The consecutive interpretation practice may come to good use in situations where you may have to converse with an English speaker, take notes during the conversation, and recall the content at a later point of time.

In Summary

Interpretation training requires no special material or equipment, and can be easily started at any time. It is a great way to enhance skills for business people who have very busy schedules, but can devote some time every day for regular practice. In that sense, it is somewhat like physical exercise, so feel free to try it out on your own.

Since interpreter training focuses largely on audio, it would be more effective if you can practice reading alongside, and improve your vocabulary and syntax comprehension. Though it may be a more challenging technique, if you can practice shadowing and reproduction of news in English, and carefully read and understand the script, you will not only improve your English but also be abreast with the latest information. You must select learning materials based on your learning goals or your level and be consistent with your practice. These are the two essentials of any practical training.

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