According to empirical research (Ericsson, Krampe & Tesch-Römer, 1993), in a lot of disciplines it takes ten thousand hours of dedicated practice to become an expert—gaining mastery of interpreting skills is no exception. Novices need to train repeatedly in the various techniques while exposing themselves to a wide variety of scenarios, if they’re to develop their own tailored styles of interpreting that work best for them. Also, as is the case in sports and other jobs that call for a degree of performing, even interpreters who have reached master level need to practice constantly, so as to keep their skills fresh and sharp.
Existing speech banks such as SCIC’s Speech Repository contain a lot of recordings from actual conferences, but they feature a few obstacles that make it difficult for students to take full advantage of them for practicing their skills:
- The materials weren’t developed for teaching or learning purposes.
- It’s difficult for students to check the quality of their performance because the recordings don’t come equipped with transcripts.
- Most interpreting graduates work in the private market, but unfortunately the existing speech banks are very much focused on international institutions (the EU, the UN, etc.) and on diplomacy, so are of more use to in-house interpreters and anyone who aspires to working in those sectors.
It’s because of this shortage of training materials that we’ve developed a curated speech bank with cutting-edge pedagogical principles—and the real needs of students and novices—in mind:
- Each speech starts with a video introduction giving contextual background, specialized terminology, unique linguistic features of the speech and other relevant information to help students warm up and activate their schemata.
- All the speeches are voiced by world-class actors with clear and natural delivery, just as if they were speaking off the cuff. There are equal numbers of British and American accents, preparing students to deal with speakers from both countries.
- In addition we have recordings of speeches adapted from written texts on a wide variety of topics. The structure and wording of these are less compact than in the pre-written ones, making them ideal for beginner and intermediate level students to practice both simultaneous and consecutive interpreting. Students can use the written texts for preparation, familiarizing themselves with the topic and vocabulary they’re about to hear. On top of all this they may learn a thing or two from these great performances by professional actors and go on to improve their own speaking styles!