Simultaneous vs. Consecutive Interpretation: What is the difference and which one do I need?

If you are hosting a meeting, conference, visit, or other event that will involve multiple languages you will need an interpreter to help communication run smoothly. Yet there are different types of interpretation services. Which one do you need?
The main two types of interpretation are simultaneous (SI) and consecutive (CI). Here’s a quick breakdown of each:

Simultaneous Interpretation (SI)

In SI, the interpreter renders the speaker’s words into the target language in real time, using headphones. An SI interpreter typically sits in a sound-proof booth, listening to the speaker on headphones and speaking the target-language into a microphone. The speaker speaks continuously, and the interpreter interprets as fast as necessary to keep pace. Target-language listeners can hear immediate, live interpretation via their headphones.

Consecutive Interpretation (CI)

In CI, the interpreter listens to the speaker and then delivers the interpretation when the speaker pauses. The speech is divided into segments, and the speaker will pause periodically to allow the interpreter to speak.

Which should you use?

Simultaneous interpretation saves time and is therefore the preferred method in courtrooms, congresses, and large conferences. Consecutive interpretation is more accurate and is best used in one-on-one situations, small meetings, and medical offices.

If you are still not sure which type of interpretation to use for your event, contact a BridgeLanguages specialist and we will be happy to walk you through the process to find the best interpretation service for your needs.

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