How to Make CAI Tools Work for You – a Guest Article by Bianca Prandi

After conducting research and providing training on Computer-Assisted Interpreting (CAI) for the past 6 years, I feel quite confident in affirming that there are three indisputable truths about CAI tools: they can potentially provide a lot of advantages, do more harm than good if not used strategically, and most interpreters know very little about them.

The surveys conducted so far on interpreters’ terminological strategies[1] have shown that only a small percentage has integrated CAI tools in their workflow. Most interpreters still prefer “traditional” solutions such as Word or Excel tables to organize their terminology. There can be many reasons for this. Some may have already developed reliable systems and processes, and don’t see a point in reinventing the wheel. Others believe the cons outweigh the pros when it comes to these tools and are yet to find a truly convincing alternative to their current solutions. Others may simply never have heard about Flashterm, InterpretBank or Interpreter’s Help before.

Even though a lot still remains to be investigated and demonstrated empirically, the studies conducted so far have highlighted both advantages and disadvantages in the use of CAI tools.  On the positive side, CAI tools can provide effective preparation through automatic term extraction and in-built concordancers[2] (Xu 2015). They seem to contribute to higher terminological accuracy than paper glossaries[3] or even Excel tables[4] when used to look up terms in the booth. They help interpreters organize, reuse and share their resources, rationalize and speed up their preparation process, make the most of preparation documents, work efficiently on the go and go paperless if desired. On the negative side, they are often perceived as potentially distracting and less flexible than traditional solutions. When working with CAI tools, we might run the risk of relying too much on the tool, both during the preparation phase and interpretation proper[5].

I would argue that, if used strategically, the pros easily outweigh the cons. Just as with any tool and new technology, it all comes down to how you use them. Whether you are still sceptical, already CAI-curious, or a technology enthusiast, here are three tips on how to make CAI tools work for you.

  1. Take time to test your tools

Most tools offer a free demo to test out their functionalities. I know we are all busy, but you can use downtimes to work on improving your processes, just as you would (should!) do to work on your CPD and marketing strategy. I suggest you do the following:

  • Choose one of your recent assignments, something you had to do research on because the topic was unfamiliar to you.
  • Set aside 1-2 hours a day, or even just 30 minutes, to simulate preparing for the assignment again.
  • Set yourself a clear goal for each phase of your workflow (glossary creation, terminology extraction, memorization, debriefing).
  • Build your baseline: dedicate 1 session to assessing your current approach. Then, dedicate each of the following sessions to testing out a different tool.
  • For a systematic comparison, keep track of the time needed for each activity, the pros and cons for each tool, your preferences and things that you found irritating.

You can conduct this analysis and selection process over a week or even a month if you are very busy. Once you have identified what might work for you, keep using those tools! Maybe test them out on a real assignment for a client you already know, where the risk of mishaps is lower.

  1. There is no perfect tool

Unless you can write code and develop your own tool, chances are there will always be something you don’t like about a tool, or that some functions you deem essential might be missing. But given the advantages that come from working with these solutions, it is definitely worth it to try and see whether you can find a tool that satisfies even just 50% of your interpreting needs. It may not seem much, but it’s already 50% of your workflow that you can optimize.

Once you get a feeling for what each tool can do for you, you might find out that there are some options you love that aren’t available in your tool of choice. My suggestion: mix and match. Most CAI tools are built modularly and allow users to only work with a specific function. For instance, I love Intragloss’ terminology extraction module, so I use that tool to work with documents, but I use InterpretBank for everything else. In a word: experiment and be creative!

  1. Tools can’t do the work for you

If you’re passionate about technology, you will agree that CAI tools are quite cool. However, we should never forget that they are a tool and, as such, they fulfil their function as long as we use them purposefully. Think before you use them, always make sure you follow a strategic course of action.

If you have the feeling you had never been as ill-prepared as when you worked with a CAI tool, here are some questions you can ask yourself:

  • Am I sure this is the right tool for me? Have I taken enough time to test it out?
  • Did I have a clear goal when I started preparing for my assignment? Or was I simply trying to cram together as many terms as possible?
  • Am I aware of my learning preferences? If I’m an auditory learner, does it make sense to use a flashcard method to study the terminology?
  • Did I include in my glossary just any term that came up in my documents? Or did I start from the relevant terminology I found to further explore the topic?

As for many things in life, reflection and a structured, strategic approach can really go a long way. For busy interpreters needing some guidance, Interpremy is preparing a course series that will help you effectively use CAI tools to optimize all phases of your workflow and avoid potential pitfalls. Get in touch at!

[1] See for instance: Zielinski, Daniel and Yamile Ramírez-Safar (2006). Onlineumfrage zu Terminologieextraktions- und Terminologieverwaltungstools. Wunsch und Wirklichkeit noch weit auseinander.” MDÜ. and Corpas Pastor, Gloria and Lily May Fern (2016). A Survey of Interpreters’ Needs and Practices Related to Language Technology.

[2] See Xu, Ran (2015). Terminology Preparation for Simultaneous Interpreters. University of Leeds.

[3] Biagini, Giulio (2015). Glossario cartaceo e glossario elettronico durante l’interpretazione simultanea: uno studio comparativo. Università degli studi di Trieste.

[4] Prandi, Bianca (2018). An exploratory study on CAI tools in simultaneous interpreting: Theoretical framework and stimulus validation. In Claudio Fantinuoli (ed.), Interpreting and technology, 29–59. Berlin: Language Science Press.

[5] Prandi, Bianca (2015). The Use of CAI Tools in Interpreters’ Training: A Pilot Study. 37th Conference Translating and the Computer, 48–57.

About the author:

Bianca Prandi

  • Conference Interpreter IT-EN-DE, MA Interpreting (University of Bologna/Forlì), based in Mannheim (Germany),;
  • PhD candidate – University of Mainz/Germersheim. Research topic: impact of computer-assisted interpreting tools on terminological quality and cognitive processes in simultaneous interpreting;
  • CAI trainer and co-founder of InterpreMY – my interpreting academy: online academy for interpreters with goal-centered, research-based courses, (coming soon: July 2020).


  • Prandi, B. (2015). L’uso di InterpretBank nella didattica dell’interpretazione: uno studio esplorativo. Università di Bologna/Forlì.
  • Prandi, B. (2015). The Use of CAI Tools in Interpreters’ Training: A Pilot Study. 37th Conference Translating and the Computer, 48–57. London.
  • Prandi, B. (2017). Designing a Multimethod Study on the Use of CAI Tools during Simultaneous Interpreting. 39th Conference Translating and the Computer, 76–88. London: AsLing.
  • Prandi, B. (2018). An exploratory study on CAI tools in Simultaneous Interpreting: theoretical framework and stimulus validation. In C. Fantinuoli (Ed.), Interpreting and technology, 28–59.
  • Fantinuoli, C., & Prandi, B. (2018). Teaching information and communication technologies: a proposal for the interpreting classroom. Trans-Kom, 11(2), 162–182.
  • Prandi, B. (forthcoming). CAI tools in interpreter training: where are we now and where do we go from here? InTRAlinea.


InterpretBank 4 review

InterpretBank by Claudio Fantinuoli, one of the pioneers of terminology tools for conference interpreters (or CAI tools), already before the new release was full to the brim with useful functions and settings that hardly any other tool offers. It was already presented in one of the first articles of this blog, back in 2014. So now I was all the more curious to find out about the 4th generation, and I am happy to share my impressions in the following article.

Getting started

It took me 2 minutes to download and install the new InterpretBank and set my working languages (1 mother tongue plus 4 languages). My first impression is that the user interface looked quite familiar: language columns (still empty) and the familiar buttons to switch between edit, memorize and conference mode. The options menu lets you set display colours, row height and many other things. You can select the online sources for looking up terminology (linguee, IATE, LEO, DICT, Wordreference and Reverso) and definitions (Wikipedia, Collins, as well as set automatic translation services (search IATE/old glossaries, use different online translation memories like glosbe and others).

Xlsx, docx and ibex (proprietary InterpretBank format) files can be imported easily, and unlike the former InterpretBank, I don’t have to change the display settings any more in order to have all my five languages displayed. Great improvement! Apart from the terms in five languages, you can import an additional “info” field and a link related to each language as well as a “bloc note”, which refers to the complete entry.

Data storage and sharing

All glossaries are saved on your Windows or Mac computer in a unique database. I haven’t tested the synchronization between desktop and laptop, which is done via Dropbox or any other shared folder. The online sharing function using a simple link worked perfectly fine for me. You just open a glossary, upload it to the secure InterpretBank server, get the link and send it to whomever you like, including yourself. On my Android phone, the plain two-language interface opened smoothly in Firefox. And although I always insist on having more than two languages in my term database, I would say that for mobile access, two languages are perfect, as consecutive interpreting usually happens between two languages back and forth and squeezing more than two languages onto a tiny smartphone screen might not be the easiest thing to do either.

I don’t quite get the idea why I should share this link with colleagues, though. Usually you either have a shared glossary in the first place, with all members of the team editing it and making contributions, or everyone has separate glossaries and there is hardly any need of sharing. If I wanted to share my InterpretBank glossary at all, I would export it and send it via email or copy it into a cloud-based team glossary, so that my colleagues can use it at their convenience.

The terminology in InterpretBank is divided into glossaries and subglossaries. Technically, everything is stored in one single database, “glossary” and “subglossary” just being data fields containing a topic classification and sub-classification. Importing only works glossary by glossary, i.e. I can’t import my own (quite big) database as a whole, converting the topic classification data fields into glossaries and sub-glossaries.

Glossary creation

After having imported an existing glossary, I now create a new one from scratch (about cars). In edit mode, with the display set to two languages only, InterpretBank will look up translations in online translation memories for you. All you have to do is press F1 or using the right mouse button or, if you prefer, the search is done automatically upon pressing the tab key, i.e. jumping from one language field to the next –empty– one. When I tried “Pleuelstange” (German for connecting rod), no Spanish translation could be found. But upon my second try, “Kotflügel” (German for mudguard), the Spanish “guardabarros” was found in MEDIAWIKI.

By pressing F2, or right-click on the term you want a translation for, you can also search your pre-selected online resources for translations and definitions. If, however, all your language fields are filled and you only want to double-check or think that what is in your glossary isn’t correct, the program will tell you that nothing is missing and therefore no online search can be made. Looking up terminology in several online sources in one go is something many a tool has tried to make possible. My favourite so far being, I must say that I quite like the way InterpretBank displays the online search results. It will open one (not ten or twenty) browser tabs where you can select the different sources to see the search results.

The functions for collecting reference texts on specific topics and extracting relevant terminology haven’t yet been integrated into InterpretBank (but, as Claudio assured me, will be in the autumn). However, the functions are already available in a separate tool named TranslatorBank (so far for German, English, French and Italian).

Quick lookup function for the booth

While searching in „normal“ edit mode is accent and case sensitive, in conference mode (headset icon) it is intuitive and hardly demands any attention. The incremental search function will narrow down the hit list with every additional letter you type. And there are many option to customize the behaviour of the search function. Actually, the „search parameters panel“ says it all: Would you like to search in all languages or just your main language? Hit enter or not to start your query? If not, how many seconds would you like the system to wait until it starts a fresh query? Ignore accents or not? Correct typos? Search in all glossaries if nothing can be found in the current one? Most probably very useful in the booth.

When toying around with the search function, I didn’t find my typos corrected, at least not that I was aware of. When typing „gardient“ I would have thought that the system corrected it into „gradient“, which it didn’t. However, when I typed „blok“, the system deleted the last letter and returned all the terms containing „block“. Very helpful indeed.

In order to figure out how the system automatically referred to IATE when no results were found in my own database, I entered „Bruttoinlandsprodukt“ (gross domestic product in German). Firstly, the system froze (in shock?), but then the IATE search result appeared in four of my five languages in the list, as Dutch isn’t supported and would have to be bought separately. At least I suppose it was the IATE result, as the source wasn’t indicated anywhere and it just looked like a normal glossary entry.

Queries in different web sources hitting F2 also works in booth mode, just as described above for edit mode. The automatic translation (F1) only works in a two-language display, which in turn can only be set in edit mode.

Memorize new terms

The memorizing function, in my view, hasn’t changed too much, which is good because I like it the way it was before. The only change I have noticed is that it will now let you memorize terms in all your languages and doesn’t only work with language pairs. I like it!


All in all, in my view InterpretBank remains number one in sophistication among the terminology tools made for (and mostly by) conference interpreters. None of the other tools I am aware of covers such a wide range of an interpreter’s workflow. I would actually not call it a terminology management tool, but a conference preparation tool.

The changes aren’t as drastic as I would have expected after reading the announcement, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, the old InterpretBank not having been completely user-unfriendly in the first place. But the user interface has indeed become more intuitive and I found my way around more easily.

The new online look-up elements are very relevant, and they work swiftly. Handling more than two languages has become easier, so as long as you don’t want to work with more than five languages in total, you should be fine. If it weren’t for the flexibility of a generic database like MS Access and the many additional data fields I have grown very fond of , like client, date and name of the conference, degree of importance, I would seriously consider becoming an InterpretBank user. But then even if one prefers keeping one’s master terminology database in a different format, thanks to the export function InterpretBank could still be used for conference preparation and booth work „only“.

Finally, whatwith online team glossaries becoming common practice, I hope to see a browser-based InterpretBank 5 in the future!

PS: One detail worth mentioning is the log file InterpretBank saves for you if you tell it to. Here you can see all the changes and queries made, which I find a nice thing not only for research purposes, but also to do a personal follow-up after a conference (or before the next conference of the same kind) and see which were the terms that kept my mind busy. Used properly, this log file could serve to close the circle of knowledge management.

About the author:
Anja Rütten is a freelance conference interpreter for German (A), Spanish (B), English (C) and French (C) based in Düsseldorf, Germany. She has specialised in knowledge management since the mid-1990s.

Summary table of terminology tools for interpreters | Übersichtstabelle Terminologietools für Dolmetscher | cuadro sinóptico de programas de gestión de terminología para intérpretes

This is an overview of all the terminology management tools for conference interpreters that I am aware of. I will try to keep the information in the table up to date. If there is anything wrong, feel free to post a comment!

Dies ist eine Übersicht über alle Terminologieverwaltungstools für Konferenzdolmetscher, die mir bekannt sind. Ich versuche, die Informationen immer auf dem neuesten Stand zu halten. Wenn mir etwas entgangen ist, freue ich mich über eine Kommentar.

Esta lista contiene todos los programas de gestión de terminología para intérpretes de conferencias que conozco. Intentaré mantener esta tabla actualizada. Si encuentran algún error o si falta algo, no duden en publicar un comentario.

Program by runs on pricing blog article Eisenrieth Dokumentations GmbH Windows, Mac, iOS and browser-based solo edition with special interpreter module available in 2018 for 499 € (demo version on request market snapshot part 3

Flashterm revisited. A guest article by Anne Berres

Glossarmanager Glossarmanager GbR/Frank Brempe, Bonn Windows free of charge Glossarmanager review
Glossary Assistant Reg Martin, Switzerland tablets running Android 4.1 or later, phones running Android 4.2 or later, Windows based PC free of charge market snapshot part 2;

Interview with Reg Martin on LangFM

Interplex Peter Sand, Eric Hartner, Geneva Windows, Mac, iOS free demo, full license 75 $, student discount, university license free upon agreement; Interplex for ipad 19.99 $, Interplex lite for iphone (viewer) free market snapshot part 1
InterpretBank Claudio Fantinuoli, Germersheim Windows and iOS; access to glossaries from Android/iOS mobile devices free demo, full license: 119 € plus VAT, 50 % student discount, free demo lincence for universities, 29 € upgrade New Term Extraction Features

InterpretBank 4 review

market snapshot part 1


Interpreters’ Help Benoît Werner and Yann Plancqueel, Berlin, Paris all (browser-based), additionally Boothmate for Windows, Mac OS X and ipad free public glossaries + one private glossary;  pro version 19.99 €/month; free education plans Interpreters’ Help – a one-stop shop in the making? by Josh Goldsmith

market snapshot part 2;

Review by Alex Drechsel

Intragloss Dan Kenig and Daniel Pohoryles, Tel Aviv/Paris Mac; Windows-version expected 49 $/month, 99 $/3 months, 269 $/1 year Intragloss – the missing link;

Interview with Dan Kenig on LangFM

Review by Josh Goldsmith

Lookup Christoph Stoll, Heidelberg Windows free of charge market snapshot part 1
Terminus Nils Wintringham, Zürich Windows (for W8, don’t use the default installation folder) CHF 148 plus VAT, 50 % off for academia, free demo with limited number of entries  market snapshot part 1

Generic database or spreadsheet programs:


Program by runs on price blog articles and reviews
Excel Microsoft Windows, macOS e.g. Office 395 Personal 69.99 € per year including Access (for 1 PC/Mac plus 1 tablet) Excel and Access – any good for the booth?
Access Microsoft Windows, macOS, Android, iOS e.g. Office Home and Student 139.00 € (once for 1 PC) or Office 395 Personal 69.99 € per year including Access (for 1 PC plus 1 tablets) Excel and Access – any good for the booth?
LibreOffice Base The Document Foundation Windows, Linux, Mac OS X; Viewer for Android free of charge
LibreOffice Calc The Document Foundation Windows, Linux, Mac OS X; Viewer for Android free of charge
Filemaker FileMaker, Inc., (Apple Inc. subsidiary) Windows, macOS, iOS 329.00 $
Google Sheets Google all (browser-based) free of charge  Shared Glossaries in Google Docs
TapForms Tap Zapp Software Inc.; Calgary, Canada macOS und iOS Mac 34.99 $, ipad 9.,99 $, iphone 8.99 $ Phil Demay I-interprètes (in French)

Screencast by Alex Drechsel

Airtable Airtable, San Francisco all (browser-based); App for iOS and Android (beta) up to 1500 lines per database free of charge, up to 5000 for 12 $/month, up to 50 000 für 24 $/month Airtable – a great Google Sheets replacement
Ninox Ninox, Berlin macOS and iOS monthly subscription for cloud use 8.33 $, iPhone App free of charge, iPad App 14.99 $ (for up to 5 devices), Mac 34.99 $ (for up to 5 devices)
© Anja Rütten

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