A few lessons from an on-line workshop on migration with simultaneous translation

We have worked in on-line events with sub-title translation before (an interpreter quickly writes the key points and they appear as sub-titles on the screen), but yesterday and today were my second experience of running a tri-lingual simultaneously translated event, in this case with German-Georgian-Serbian. To boot, it was a hybrid event (Serbian speakers in a very large room, Georgian and German-speakers on-line).

A couple of learnings that may be interesting for others:

1. It worked. It is no different to simultaneous translations with interpreters sitting in booths, simply the “booths” were virtual, and everybody had headsets on – just in some cases attached to their computer, rather than a headset.

2. There were technical hitches (as always with software). This meant several sessions preparing it well in advance of the event. Even then we had to start late on day 2 as an up-date to the software caused havoc. So patience is also needed.

3.  It is vital (as always) to have a change of pace and format as often as possible. No matter how good the interpreter, always hearing the same few voices is not the same as hearing different tones and melodies of many speakers. Hence group work (not just listening) also in “national” channels (all Georgians together, all Serbians together) gives a moment of relief.

4.  It helps to visualise and repeat. Not repeat ad nauseam, just make really clear what is meant, and by writing it (in this case in English – we assumed most could have a passive ability to understand) this kept the group in focus (I should add, the visualisation was more useful for those on-line than those in the room, given Corona distancing requirements, and there being only one screen).

In any case, an interesting change from our usual foresight and strategy work!


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