Consecutive Or Simultaneous Interpretation?

Interpretation has always been a crucial tool to bridge language gaps and to facilitate effective communications. Whether to use the consecutive or simultaneous interpreter will depend on the requirements of the client.

First, let's see the major differences:

Simultaneous interpretation
The interpreters sit in a sound-proof booth, listen to the speaker through interpretation headsets and interpret on a real-time basis from the source language to the target language. This requires high levels of concentration and it is recommended to have a pair of interpreters to alternate every 15-30 minutes.

Simultaneous interpretation is usually ideal for events with a large number of participants broadcasting in different languages, for example conference, seminar, award ceremony, etc.

The benefit of simultaneous interpretation is this is the best and most efficient way to communicate to an audience that doesn't speak the language. However, simultaneous interpretation can be expensive. Not only you need to hire a pair of interpreters for each language, but also you have to add in the rental cost of the booths and interpretation equipment.

Consecutive interpretation
The interpreters sit next to the speaker and interpret into the target language once the speaker has finished speaking. The interpreters may take notes to summarize the speech which may be delivered in segments.

Consecutive interpretation is suitable for small business meetings with fewer languages or for formal occasions such as factory visit, business dinner, where it is not possible to install interpretation equipment.

The benefit of consecutive interpretation is it's cheaper than full-pledged simultaneous interpretation. It reduces the need for interpretation equipment and typically only requires one interpreter per language. However, it is often annoying for the audience to hear the interpreter after the speaker.

The author is a professional translator and interpreter for Lingua Port Singapore. She has been exposed to translation and interpretation projects for more than 8 years and has thoroughly been involved in every aspect of the organization and management. Contact us today at to inquire on how we can help you with your translation and interpretation requirements.

Article Source:, written by our Project Manager.