Invaluable New Interpreting Resource

A week or so ago, we received a lovely e-mail from a colleague, Italian translator and interpreter Silvia D'Amico, who wanted to tell us about a new interpreting resource, and we have to tell you: it's amazing! Silvia asked us to post a note about the aptly named Speechpool on this blog, and we are delighted to do so. This site might be the best thing to happen to interpreters since fully enclosed interpreting booths. It's basically a very cool speech bank on steroids -- it's collaborative, multilingual and very interactive.
Ready to practice interpreting in person in Chile. With wine. 

Turns out that Dagy had already heard about Speechpool during an EU webstream of the "New modes of learning" SCIC Universities Conference in Brussels. The site was enthusiastically received by conference participants, and there's no doubt that Speechpool is an invaluable resource to practice your interpreting skills. We frequently write about which resources and tools we use to practice our interpreting and to prepare for certification and accreditation exams, and we wish this tool had existed a long time ago. Many thanks to Silvia for the reminder about this fantastic tool. She was involved in the project and did the final proofing of the Italian version of the site, although modest Silvia wants to make sure that the credit goes to Alice Bertinotti and many other volunteers, who played a very big role in the translation of the site into Italian and other languages.  The site was designed by the very talented Sophie Llewellyn Smith, who runs it.

We know that our fantastic colleague Michelle Hof of The Interpreter Diaries already blogged about Speechpool on her blog, but we figured we'd do so too, as we'd love to spread the word! Here's how it works:

  • The basic idea of the website is that interpreters exchange practice material for the benefit of all. The site is multilingual, of course (and more languages to come). The site was created and recently launched because many interpreters have complained about the fact that not that much suitable interpreting material is available online, in spite of the millions of videos that get uploaded every week. We've certainly had the same experience, even though we love TED videos and the EU speech repository (limited access, unfortunately).
  • To see speeches, you have to register (we've already done that). This takes about two minutes.
  • You can search for available interpreting videos by keyword for your specific language. Very handy.
  • Speeches suitable for both simultaneous and consecutive are available, and speakers include both native and non-native speakers, which is clearly marked.
  • You can also rate the difficulty level of the video and report any problems in terms of audio and quality, along the lines of Tripadvisor. We like.
  • We've already viewed a few videos, and the quality was outstanding.
  • Now, in addition to just learning, you can also contribute to the learning -- that's the idea. You can upload your own recorded videos for others to practice. You have to do this to YouTube (to save bandwidth) and them embed the video into Speechpool. We definitely plan on recording several videos.
  • The best part: it's free. Really. No catches. Speechpool received funding from the UK NNI (National Network for Interpreting) and is continually being developed by staff at the University of Leeds. 
Enjoy! We'd love to hear what you think about Speechpool!


7 comments:

Al Navas on March 26, 2013 at 10:54 AM said...

Is there a catch? ONLY practicing, or students, or...conference interpreters. At http://speechpool.net/en/using-speechpool, in the Join In! section:

"Speeches can be uploaded by interpreting students, alumni of interpreting courses, and practising conference interpreters."

Judy Jenner and Dagmar Jenner on March 26, 2013 at 1:22 PM said...

@Al: Nice to hear from you! Thanks for pointing this out. We've barely scratched the surface and had not seen that part. Don't think it's a catch, though. Hard to see how that would be enforced/verified, too. The good thing is that the videos are available to all, right? Perhaps the point is that practicing interpreters know at which speed to go? But that shouldn't be limited to conference interpreters. Court interpreters can do that, too. Excellent food for thought.

Al Navas on March 26, 2013 at 1:30 PM said...

Judy and Dagmar,

I wrote a note to Sophie, asking about this key item. This morning I received a wonderful note from her. The following is absolutely key:

"..I see the site very much as a place to create a community of interpreters, whether they be conference interpreters, public service interpreters, or liaison interpreters. So contributors certainly do not have to be conference interpreters - just able to prepare good speeches..."

She IS fully prepared to accept speeches from all interpreters. Yay!

Al1635

Sophie Llewellyn Smith on March 26, 2013 at 1:57 PM said...

Hello Al, Judy and Dagmar,
First of all, thank you for writing about Speechpool, which I hope will be a very useful resource for ALL interpreters, conference or otherwise! The whole idea is to create a community, and the site is not intended to be exclusive.
The restrictions on uploading material are there to prevent spam (an unfortunate phenomenon on some other online speech banks) and to try to ensure high quality material on the site. You are correct that they are difficult to enforce, but we believe it is still worth trying, for the sake of a good quality resource. The idea is that trained interpreters know how to prepare well structured, well delivered speeches, i.e. they are good public speakers (so are plenty of other people, of course, but a sentence like 'speeches can be uploaded by good public speakers' would be very much more difficult to enforce!). But we will certainly remove the reference to practising 'conference' interpreters, for which I apologise! I designed the site when I was training conference interpreters in the UK, but it quickly became clear to me that Speechpool had applications well beyond that. If you watch the video archive of my presentation at the SCIC Universities Conference last Friday you will see that I referred specifically to public service interpreters among others, and that I expressed the hope that Speechpool would help to break down barriers in an often fragmented community of interpreters.

Judy Jenner and Dagmar Jenner on March 26, 2013 at 7:42 PM said...

@Al: Wonderful to hear that. How great that this blog post got the conversation started and that this important change has been made. Excellent.

@Sophie: Thanks for your lovely response. That is excellent news indeed -- thanks for taking the time to review Al's concern and for taking action. We are delighted to provide a forum for such exchanges. Go interpreters! And go Speechpool! And thanks, Sophie, for creating this great new resource. We are beyond impressed.

Olatz Rodríguez on March 27, 2013 at 7:44 AM said...

Hi! Thank you for this post. I am a Spanish Translation and Interpreting student and I have a subject in which we practice conference interpretations. Everytime I come home and want to practice, I never find good speeches to practice, but the Speechpool has proved to be really useful.

Thank you once again!

Olatz Rodríguez.

Judy Jenner and Dagmar Jenner on April 1, 2013 at 11:01 AM said...

@Olatz: We are happy to hear that you like Speechpool as much as we do! You are right: it is quite challenging to find suitable material, but Speechpool is about to change that. Thanks for reading and for commenting!

Join the conversation! Commenting is a great way to become part of the translation and interpretation community. Your comments don’t have to be overly academic to get published. We usually publish all comments that aren't spam, self-promotional or offensive to others. Agreeing or not agreeing with the issue at hand and stating why is a good way to start. Social media is all about interaction, so don’t limit yourself to reading and start commenting! We very much look forward to your comments and insight. Let's learn from each other and continue these important conversations.

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