InterpretersHelp’s new Practice Module – Great Peer-Reviewing Tool for Students and Grownup Interpreters alike

I have been wondering for quite a while now why peer feedback plays such a small role in the professional lives of conference interpreters. Whatwith AIIC relying on peer review as its only admission criterion, why not follow the logic and have some kind of a routine in place to reflect upon our performance every now and then. After having received our university degrees, we are not immune to developing bad habits or dropping in performance for the next decades to come.

In light of this I was all the more pleased to learn at Translating and the Computer 40 that InterpretersHelp had implemented a brand new practice and feedback module.

I decided to test it straight away with my students at the University of Applied Sciences in Cologne. So instead of meeting in the classroom, I had my students interpret a video at home in the InterpretersHelp practice module and send their interpretation to me for feedback. I listened to eleven complete interpretations and gave detailed feedback using the evaluation criteria and the comment function InterpretersHelp offers. (First lesson learned: Listening to eleven interpreted versions of the same speech from start to finish is a safe way to drive anyone insane.) Later we met face-to-face at the university to discuss recurring issues and general patterns in interpreting particular parts of the speech.

Here are my lessons learned from a trainer’s perspective:

– Listening to all your students‘ recordings is extremely time-consuming. Make sure you plan accordingly.
– Giving structured feedback trains your sense of analysis and helps to discover similarities and differences between your students‘ skills, strengths and weaknesses.
– The discussions in the group were much more focussed on patterns, strategies and best practice than on individual mistakes.

Feedback from my students was:

– The tool was great and intuitive to use. They also used it after our first test session to practice on their own and prepare for their exams.

Some minor technical hiccups were reported, some of which were fixed immediately by the IH team. For example, a „Pause“ button and synchronous playing/reversing/forwarding were implemented immediately after we reported that we desperately needed them. There still seems to be an imprecision in the alignment of original and interpretation track, which makes it a bit difficult to measure decalage, but chances are this will be improved in the near future. A downloadable recording file in two-track format was implemented at short notice. Loading the recording can be a bit slow depending on your hardware and internet connection, but this is being worked on. So far, the practice module only works in Google Chrome, and it cannot be used on a mobile device. For technical reasons, the choice of source videos is currently limited to YouTube. I personally would love to see speechpool.net integrated as a source of video material, which seems to be an option InterpretersHelp  is not averse to either.

But back to the question of peer review practice among grown-up interpreters: Why don’t we make a habit of completing one practice interpretation per language combination once a year, just like our medical check-up, and sending it to several colleagues for review? If you are shy about exposing yourself to your peers‘ criticism, you can start choosing a good speaker and an easy subject, and once you feel a bit braver you go for the super fast-speaking and mumbling techie.

I would be very interested in hearing your thoughts on this, so feel free to leave comments here or on Twitter or Facebook 🙂


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.

New Term Extraction Features in InterpretBank and InterpretersHelp – Thumbs up!

Extracting terminology from preparatory texts into a term database seems to be the hot topic of the moment, judging by what the two most active and innovative CAI (computer-assisted interpreting) tools, InterpretBank and InterpretersHelp, are working on at the moment.  So while I am still waiting to become a Windows beta tester of Intragloss, the pioneer in this field, I am eager to have a go at both InterpretBank5’s (beta) and InterpretBank’s (experimental) new extraction features.

InterpretBank by Claudio Fantinuoli has been adding quite some time-saving features for conference preparation lately. Apart from searching online ressources on the go while building your glossary, it now promises to extract terminology from your glossaries, view original and translation in parallel and link documents to glossaries. This does indeed sound like Intragloss combined with the sophisticated booth-friendly terminology management system that InterpretBank has been for many years. So off we go!

As you can see in the picture, a new „documents“ icon has been added to the familiar three others (editing, conference mode, flashcards). When I press the magic button, the documents pane appears in the bottom left corner and lets me add documents like pdf or pptx in my two languages and display them next to each other. Unfortunately, there is no synchronised scrolling and no search function to look up word in the documents, but these functions are to be implemented soon. The selected documents are now linked to the glossary, so whenever this particular glossary is opened, they will appear in the documents pane. Highlighting words in the two texts and inserting them into the glossary or looking up translations in my favourite online resources (like IATE, Linguee, Pons, LEO and others more) works so swiftly, when I first tried it the terms were in my glossary before I had even noticed.

For English texts, context examples can be looked up using the right mouse button or using the icon in the list of extracted terms.  And what’s great for sharing with colleagues and for using in the booth: The text can be opened in a separate window and annotated with records from the glossary:

Automatic extraction of terminology or key concepts so far only works for English, but will be implemented for other languages, too (German, Spanish, French and Italian are planned to be released in April). Quality of extraction, as always, depends on many factors, like the amount of text and the subject area, but it is good to get a first impression of the subject matter at hand.

InterpretBank as a locally installed application raises no confidentiality issues with your client’s documents being opened and processed, as everything InterpretBank does happens on your computer (unless you use the „send document to any device“ option).

If you are more of a team glossary and online networking person, InterpretersHelp by Yann Plancqueel and Benoît Werner is the other option to manage glossaries and manually extract terminology from texts. It is quite straightforward: Adding documents works via Copy & Paste, you just paste the text into a field for the respective language so you have the two language versions displayed next to each other (but with no synchronised scrolling either). When I tried it, inserting 20 pages from a pdf worked fine. Words can be looked up in the texts using the browser search function.

The highlighting and inserting also works very swiftly and you can look up terms in Google Translate and the Oxford Dictionaries. Once you have extracted all the vocab you need, you press a button to add all the new entries to your glossary. When changing back from the glossary view to the extractor, the texts have disappeared.

InterpretersHelp as a cloud-based tool addresses the data protection issue by encrypting the data that transit to and from the website (https://interpretershelp.com/help/secure_hosting).

Of course there are zillions of other functions interpreters need for CAI tools to support their workflow perfectly. But I think that both InterpretBank and InterpretersHelp have added one super useful feature to make our lives easier. Thanks a lot!

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.

Further reading:

Summary Table of Terminology Tools for Interpreters. <www.termtools.dolmetscher-wissen-alles.de>

Josh Goldsmith: The Interpreter’s Toolkit: Interpreters’ Help – a one-stop shop in the making?. In: aiic.net February 12, 2018. <http://aiic.net/p/8499>.

Anja Rütten: InterpretBank 4 Review. 31 July 2017. <http://blog.sprachmanagement.net/interpretbank-4-review/>.

Alexander Drechsel: App profile: Interpreters‘ Help. 2 Oct 2015. <https://www.adrechsel.de/dolmetschblog/interpretershelp>.

Anja Rütten: Booth-friendly terminology management revisited – two newcomers. 29 April 2014. <http://blog.sprachmanagement.net/booth-friendly-terminology-management-revisited-2-newcomers/>