Globibo Blog

Kinds of interpreting modes


Interpreting is the process of orally conveying a message from one language to another in real time. There are several interpreting modes or techniques used depending on the context and requirements of the situation. Let’s explore some of the common types of interpreting modes:

1. Simultaneous Interpreting

In simultaneous interpreting, the interpreter renders the speaker’s message into the target language almost simultaneously as the speaker is speaking. This mode is commonly used in conferences, large meetings, and international events where there is a need for immediate translation. Simultaneous interpreters work in soundproof booths, listening to the speaker through headphones and delivering the interpretation through a microphone.

2. Consecutive Interpreting

Consecutive interpreting involves the interpreter rendering the speaker’s message after the speaker pauses or completes a section of their speech. The interpreter takes notes during the speaker’s delivery and then delivers the interpretation in the target language. Consecutive interpreting is often used in small group meetings, negotiations, or one-on-one interactions. It allows for a more interactive exchange between participants but can extend the duration of the meeting.

3. Liaison Interpreting

Liaison interpreting, also known as ad-hoc interpreting or escort interpreting, is used in small group settings where interpretation is needed for a conversation between a limited number of participants. The interpreter listens to a segment of speech and then renders the interpretation to the target language, facilitating communication between the parties involved. Liaison interpreting is commonly used in business meetings, diplomatic encounters, and informal settings.

4. Whispered Interpreting (Chuchotage)

Whispered interpreting, also known as chuchotage, is a form of simultaneous interpreting where the interpreter whispers the interpretation to the recipient or a small group of listeners. This mode is suitable when only a few people require interpretation in a larger gathering, such as during guided tours or in courtroom settings. The interpreter sits or stands close to the target language listeners and whispers the interpretation while the speaker continues speaking.

5. Sight Translation

Sight translation involves the oral rendition of a written text from one language to another. The interpreter reads the source document and verbally translates it into the target language, maintaining the same level of accuracy and clarity as in regular interpreting. Sight translation is often used in legal, medical, or administrative settings, where documents such as contracts, medical reports, or official letters need to be translated on the spot.

6. Telephone Interpreting

Telephone interpreting allows for immediate interpretation over the phone. It is particularly useful when face-to-face interpretation is not feasible or when there is an urgent need for language assistance. Telephone interpreters facilitate communication between two or more parties who do not share a common language. This mode is commonly used in customer service, emergency hotlines, and remote meetings.


Each interpreting mode has its own advantages and is suitable for specific contexts and requirements. Interpreters are skilled professionals who adapt to different interpreting techniques based on the needs of the situation, ensuring effective communication across language barriers.

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