The Note Taking Technique for Interpreters

Why does an interpreter need a good note taking technique?

A good note taking technique is the basis for a fluent, clear and complete interpreting performance. From this performance, the customer will recognize that he encounters a professional interpreter.

Taking interpreting notes professionally does not mean, however, to learn hundreds of signs and symbols by heart and to recall them from memory when necessary.

An interpreter who has studied the note taking technique, analyses and filters the speech quite automatically and puts the essential points on paper in a structured manner.

Self-studying or attending a course – How can I learn the note taking technique for interpreters?

Self-study of the note taking technique

I started self-studying the basics of the note taking technique in 2008. I read a lot about it and then I tried to note down sections from newspaper articles. Of course, this took me too much time and I was simply missing the feedback to be able to measure my real progress. Nevertheless, self-studying is a good first step, as far as I am concerned. It is also quite rewarding to study and train on one’s own to improve the use of personal signs and symbols that are easy to remember.

Online Complete course – available in German language from autumn 2021

Soon, my first Complete Online Course will be available at this point, throughout which I will be pleased to teach you the note taking technique in 5 consecutive build-up modules from the ground up.

Attending a course for the note taking technique

Apart from the Online course that will be available from autumn this year, my offer also includes individual note taking coaching that takes place as a web conference and picks participants up where they stand. The participants’ combination of languages is not important, because we do the note taking training largely in a “language-neutral” manner.

Studying the basics

In the beginning, all essential theoretical basics are conveyed, such as the structure of the writing pad or the spatial arrangement of the notes. At the same time, we work on the improvement of the analysis of the “source text” and learn how to make a clever summary of the speaker’s utterance and to get to the heart of it. In order to internalize this technique, we start by taking notes of short texts from a sheet.

Becoming an Almost-Professional

The Coaching for Advanced Students is aimed at all those who are already familiar with the theoretical basics. The aim of this course to make the participants progress on their way to a professional note taking technique. To achieve this, the learning will for instance be about a clever note taking of interrelations and context using only one summarizing symbol.

An important part of this is practice. From the very beginning, we start taking notes of short and middle-size discourse or speech fragments, asking about the backgrounds of personal notes used and their structures again and again, thus improving them continuously.

The Fine Tuning

The aim of this Coaching scheme is very clear: becoming a professional and developing a well-working and neat note taking technique in all kinds and situations of interpreting. For this purpose, we also take down longer text fragments and scrutinize the benefits and structures of these notes. We learn about a skilful use of ‘emergency strategies’ and, in particular, about a professional presentation and speaking before the audience.

Our objective is to achieve a final state of straightforward and well-structured arrangement of notes.