Practice Makes Perfect

Most of us have heard the phrase, “If you don’t use it, you lose it.” So, if our job is to be an interpreter, and we don’t use those skills daily, or challenge ourselves to use the skills more often, won’t we lose our ability to be good interpreters? Interpretation is not just a job, but a way of communicating.

Let’s go back to the initial quote, “If you don’t use it, you lose it.” As a Returned Peace Corp Volunteer, I became conversationally fluent in French. Although I was forced to speak it ‘on-the-job’, I wasn’t forced to use it in all of my daily activities.  For example, I still thought in English, wrote notes and letters in English, and read English books.  Well, I decided to challenge myself and converted to living French. I wrote all my notes in French, read French children’s books, and even changed the language in my cell phone to be French.  By doing this, I learned new vocabulary, but it also forced my mind to start thinking, speaking, reading, and ultimately living French. At first it was hard work, but by practicing all the time, it became my normal daily life. As stated in Interpretive Opportunities: The Hard Work is Worth It posted on Jan 8, “practicing my technique . . . is crucial.”

From Inspect What You Expect posted on Jan 22, it suggested “Get out of your office.” I agree and encourage Interpreters not to just interpret on the job, but in your personal lives. For instance, consider writing interpretive Christmas letters or email updates to old friends. Try sending an interpretive text or two, or telling an interpretive story on the phone. Half the work is already done, you know the audience to whom you are speaking, now practice appropriate techniques.

As I did with my cell phone, surround yourself with interpreters. As described in Oat Soda Interpretation posted on Jan. 28, “Embrace the universal concepts of relaxation, tradition and deliciousness.” Have lunch with your fellow interpreters, go out for an oat soda or coffee, and mingle at workshops. Not only can you practice speaking interpretation, but you can exchange ideas, hear interpretive language, and live interpretation!

Lastly, observing the environment can be an excellent way to help you develop your own interpretive abilities. Instead of just practicing being an interpreter, consider also practicing being an auditor.  Review labels on food products for interpretive content, critique advertisements on TV or from the radio, listen close to pod casts and watch documentaries.  Try to seek out and audit interpretive messages that are all around you. You might be able to pick up some great techniques and see wonderful examples of interpretation, or you may start recognizing popular interpretainment.

Practice makes perfect, so start practicing in your daily routines.  Consider incorporating interpretation in how you speak and write, be aware of other interpretive products out there, and challenge yourself to practice interpretation.

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