Discovering Interpreting – Frequently Asked Questions


Interpreting is conveying the message of the speaker orally from a source into a target language.

Let’s say you are at an international conference, with speakers presenting in different languages, which - or some of which - you may not understand. Each speak will be able to give their presentation in their native language, while in your headphones you can hear someone saying the exact same thing in your native language. That voice is an interpreter and their job is to make multilingual communication easier among all the different stakeholders, bridging languages and cultures.  

But what is the difference between translation and interpretation? And where should you use either, or both? What do you need to do if you want to hire an interpreter for your meetings or events?

Stay with us as we answer these and a few other frequently asked questions about interpreting. 


What’s the difference between translation and interpretation?

Translation is written, while interpretation is oral. Translation and interpretation are two distinct disciplines that require mastery of different techniques and tools. Translators and interpreters and are highly specialized professionals in their respective area of expertise. There are different types of translation and interpreting services and different profiles and areas of specialization in each field. 

Translation and interpretation are often complementary, , for example, when organizing a symposium with an international audience, translation will be needed to make the web page of the event, the agenda, presentations, or other documents available in different languages. Interpreters will be the voice of the speakers during the event.  


In which contexts does interpretation bring the most value? 

1. Multilingual events, corporate meetings, conferences 

Interpretation allows speakers to communicate successfully during international events, congresses, conferences; traditionally the so called “conference interpretation” has predominantly – almost exclusively been on-site. Nowadays, the shift towards virtual and hybrid meetings has made interpreting services more accessible than ever, as they are increasingly used to make communication easier and more effective for virtual or hybrid town-halls, training sessions, internal meetings and workshops. In the legal world, remote interpreting is often used for multilingual virtual hearings.

2. Daily multilingual communication  

Thanks to advanced, fully automated technologies solutions for over the phone (OPI) and video remote interpretation (VRI), public and private, national, or international organizations can communicate daily with their multilingual customers, suppliers, and colleagues.  

OPI and VRI services are available typically available 24/7/365 via phone, mobile app or web portal, where you can connect with a remote interpreter for the desired language whenever you need to and from wherever you are, on demand or for scheduled meetings. 


Which type of interpretation do I need?

To decide what type of interpreting service best fits your multilingual needs, the first question is - in what context and for what meeting setup is the interpretation required? 


What is simultaneous interpretation? 

Interpretation is simultaneous when it is performed while the speaker is speaking. This is by far the most widespread interpreting mode, as it allows immediate communication in one or more languages.

In this interpreting setting, the participants to the meeting can communicate as if they all could speak the same language, while the message of the speaker is instantly conveyed into the target language(s).

Specific technical equipment - booths, headphones, portable tour-guide systems - or technology are required for in-person, hybrid, or remote simultaneous interpretation. 


What is consecutive interpretation? 

Consecutive interpretation is performed after the speaker has finished speaking; speaker and interpreter take turns speaking in the source and target language respectively.

Consecutive interpretation is used less frequently than simultaneous, mainly for highly interactive meetings, short presentations, visits of delegations or audits. The duration of the meeting almost doubles and the flow of the speech is interrupted by the interpretation, which makes this interpretation mode suitable only in specific settings.

No specific equipment or technology is required. 


What is sign language interpretation? 

Sign language interpreters convey a message expressed in a spoken language into a sign language and vice versa. You may have noticed the little square at the bottom of your TV screen during the news where someone signs what is being said in a spoken language, that person is a sign language interpreter!  

When you choose to include sign language interpretation for your event or meeting, you foster inclusive communication, ensuring that all your stakeholders can play an active role.  

Don’t forget, sign languages, as any other natural language, reflect the reality of the countries or regions where they have developed. There are more than 300 different sign languages! Proficient interpreters for the sign language required for your meeting need to be selected.   


What is remote or hybrid interpretation?  

The full spectrum of interpreting services that in the past were available only on-site is now accessible remotely thanks to extraordinary technology advancements. 

Remote interpretation takes the convenience of a remote conversation, meeting or conference a step further, ensuring the participants can listen and interact in the desired language and making the dialogue more inclusive.

There are different types of remote interpretation: from over the phone and video remote, to conference interpretation, simultaneous or consecutive. Depending on where the meeting attendees are or from where they connect or call, different technology solutions or setups are possible – virtual, on-site or hybrid. 

Our teams will guide you and tailor an easy and effective interpreting solution for your specific need. 




What are the benefits of a meeting with interpretation? 

When you are targeting an international audience, whether it is your colleagues, employees, suppliers, prospects, or customers, overcoming language barriers is key to increase value and open a real dialogue.  

As you may have experienced, presenting or interacting in a foreign language is generally not the same as in your native language; interpreters allow the speakers to express themselves freely in their native language and help them reach and engage their audience successfully.  

In a foreign language, we understand more than we can express, so giving everyone involved the chance to interact in the language they feel most comfortable with means ensuring you are listening to everyone’s ideas equally! And this is where an interpreter comes in.

To learn more about organizing meetings and events with remote interpretation, watch our webinar on-demand, hosted by yours truly: How to reach and hear your audience with Interpreting.


There you go - you now know all the basics about interpreting. To go fully in-depth on the interpreting topic, check out our ebook: Interpreting: A Practical Guide. If you'd like to explore practical tips on selecting the best interpreting solution for your case, check out our blog: How to choose the interpreting service that's right for you.

Whatever your interpreting needs are,
Acolad is there for you.

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