100 Days of Interpreting

Inspired by Dagy's performance at the accrediting test for freelance European Union interpreters, Judy decided to invest some time preparing for the oral portion of the Federal Court Interpreters Certification Examination, which will be held in July (she passed the written portion this summer). Now, we are twins, but there's no doubt that Dagy is more disciplined when it comes to interpreting practice than Judy. Dagy practiced essentially every day for a year and a half, including at a rented apartment in Santiago, Chile, in the car on the way to California, on the plane from Argentina to Chile, by the pool in Vegas, in our Vienna office, late at night, in between appointments, early in the morning, at a coffee shop, and on a bus going cross-country in Chile (yes, people stared), on European trains, etc.

Her well-taken point is that you just need to practice every day, even if it's not convenient and you can't fit it into your day very well. Just do a few minutes and get into the habit of making it part of your day, just like going to the gym or brushing your teeth. Thus, Judy decided that she was going to follow suit and practice either simultaneous or consecutive interpreting, using a variety of materials and resources, for 100 days (7 days a week). She records all her work using the online tool Audacity and listens back to them immediately after recording them. 

Here's a brief report about the first 10 days:

Day 1: Sunday, December 2
Witness expert interviews, James Ray/Arizona sweat lodge trial plus Alex King murder interview/trial reports. All videos from YouTube. Total time: approx. 30 minutes. Self-assessment: much better than I thought.

Day 2: Monday, December 3
11 segments of Casey Anthony trial. Opening statements, prosecution. All videos from YouTube. Total time: approx. 1 hour. Self-assessment: very strong, but granted, the prosecutor speaks quite slowly.

Day 3: Tuesday, December 4
3-hour paid interpreting assignment: civil deposition (employment law). Self-assessment: I was in the zone today, even though the topic was tricky.

Day 4: Wednesday, December 5
Opening statements, Michael Jackson trial (Conrad Murray): Prosecution, 3 segments. All videos from YouTube. Total time: approx. 45 minutes. Self-assessment: there was more medical info that I was prepared for, so I did not get some of that right, but in general, I kept up and my voice did not sound hurried.

Day 5: Thursday, December 6
Sample recordings, Lecture 1, Southern California School of Interpreting, Preparation for the Oral Component of the Federal Exam PLUS Opening statements, Conrad Murray trial, prosecution, parts 5, 6 and 7 (YouTube). Total time: approx. 1 hour. Self-assessment: decent.
      Day 6: Friday, December 7
3.5-hour paid interpreting assignment, 2 depositions: car accident in California. In addition: one TED talk (traffic jams). Total time: 3 hours, 45 minutes. Self-assessment: pretty happy with my performance.
      Day 7: Saturday, December 8
    TED talks – arts festival. Total time: approx. 10 minutes. Self-assessment: poor performance.

8.   Day 8: Sunday, December 9
    You Tube – Mock Trial –Joon’s Opening Statement (Defense), YouTube. Very difficult to hear. Total time: approx. 7 minutes. Self-assessment: was difficult to hear; I did very poorly.

9  Day 9: Monday, December 10 
   Jeff Smith, business lessons from prison – TED talks.    Total time: 5 minutes. Self-assessment: average at best, but happy that I was able to interpret at all, as I am sick with a lymph node infection.

    Day 10: Tuesday, December 11
    TED talk (Love Letters to Strangers). Total time: 5 minutes. Self-assessment: I got lost, but I am still quite sick, so I am proud of myself for tackling this.

Stay tuned for the next 90 days! We'd love to hear from you, dear colleagues: how do you improve your skills and/or prepare for interpreting exams? 


Anonymous said...

Hello, colleagues!

Congratulations to Dagmar for the test and good luck to you, Judy, keep us posted!

My questions go out to the both of you: how exactly do you prepare on your own, what tools do you use, how do you stay motivated? I am already accredited and I want to add French, but I have never been able to get down and work on my very own. Now that I don't have my MA colleagues around to help anymore, it's more difficult. It's fascinating how you can practice in any environment, or conditions (while travelling and being sick and whatnot) while others (i.e. me) can't seem to do it in an empty house with silence all around, and, sometimes, time galore.

Best of everything to you both!

Judy Jenner and Dagmar Jenner on December 14, 2012 at 5:22 PM said...

@Nerdskaya: Thank you for your sweet comment. Wow, you are accredited: our hats are off to you! I don't think there's anything we can teach you. We will, however, do a future posting about materials that we use to practice. In terms of getting motivated to just do it: well, that's a tough one. We are just pretty disciplined (Dagy more so than Judy) and insanely competitive, so once we set a goal, we work toward it quite diligently. Perhaps setting a specific goal a day, even if it's a small one, would really help you? Or interpret first think in the morning so you get it over with, so to say?

Thanks for reading and for commenting.

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