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Integrating public speaking in interpretation course

Interpretation and Public speaking are closely interconnected. Translating for a group of people assumes interaction with these people most of the time. Quite often interpretation is rendered in front of the audience when a speech is given at some event, a report has to be presented to the board, or in any other case, when delivering a piece of information involves a group of people. Therefore the same set of skills used during public performance is applied by interpreters. They experience the same anxiety when translating in front of the audience, they have to overcome stage fright as well, and also render interpretation during the speech, without significant time for preparation.

The importance of Public Speaking is hard to overestimate. It is widely used our days by people for different purposes: Business, relationship, marketing, academic works, politics, social sphere, and others. Successful people are bound to express themselves effectively and persuasively. It is now important to be able to express your thoughts professionally and, moreover, to persuade people to act and think in a certain way. Therefore, communicative competence is one of the most essential traits a successful person needs in order to perform effectively.

Public Speaking is a highly motivating activity, if we think closely about its potential benefits that go far beyond presenting a product or giving official speech at the reception. In addition to that, developing oratory skills will do the following: Open up new career opportunities; add value to a person as an authority; set a person apart from the rest of the competition; help to present any type of information effectively, and many others. [1] Benefits of being able to speak in front of the audience professionally also include social sphere, especially if we think about the theory that the impression people form about a person is built on average in three to five seconds after the contact. According to Nikitina (2011), “How well people perceive you and the conclusions that they make about your professionalism and character will be largely influenced by your confidence, when presenting yourself” [1].

Today, speeches are used for various reasons: to sell the product, to represent certain item or a person, to share findings of a particular research, and others. Most of the modern speeches consist of five basic elements, which can be expressed as “Who is saying What to Whom using what Medium, with what Effects?” [1]. We believe that no component of this chain can be omitted if one wants to have the material represented successfully. Moreover, this question should be used as a checklist when preparing the speech.

Interpretation is the facilitation of oral or sign-language communication, either simultaneously or consecutively, between two or more, speakers who are not speaking, or signing, the same language. [2] Several modes of interpretation are used today: Simultaneous, consecutive, whispered, relay, and liaison. In simultaneous interpretation, the interpreter renders the message while the source-language speaker continuously speaks. In consecutive interpreting, the interpreter speaks after the source-language speaker has finished speaking. In whispered interpreting, the interpreter is whispering a simultaneous interpretation to a listener. Relay interpreting is usually used when there are several target languages. A source-language interpreter interprets the text to a language common to every interpreter, who then renders the message to their respective target languages. Liaison interpreting involves relaying what is spoken to one, between two, or among many people [3].

Both public speaking and interpretation are quite wanted professions nowadays due to globalization and international communication development. Hence, high quality professional education in this field is required and theoretical basis has to be set. In reality, little attention is given to theoretical basis of Interpretation and Public Speaking as subject when the Interpretation Studies are taught. Students are exposed to a lot of knowledge on various rules, suggestions, guidance, practices for other disciplines. However, when it is time to learn how to interpret, students only receive limited knowledge on the subject-matter and a lot of assignments. Indeed, constant practice is essential for successful speaking, not only interpretation, however, having learnt some principles, instructions, and tips on how to do interpretation would facilitate the process on interpretation.

Public speaking skills determine the quality of interpretation when performed publicly and its essence in whole. Oratory can be considered as a tool for improvement and perfection of the text produced during the process of translation. Not being a confident speaker yourself can disserve all the efforts for making good quality translation. That is why we believe it is necessary to teach students majoring in Interpretation Science and Foreign Languages to combine these types of activity to be more competitive in the labor market, as well as to meet needs of interacting people.

Current educational system also has some weak points, as some aspects of it result in lower level of expertise of graduates. One of them is lack of freedom to choose the order of courses throughout the entire process of education, although Kazakhstan is trying to comply with European standards of education [4]. For instance, Interpretation course may be useful for students who had already studied Theoretical foundations of Interpretation, Expressive means of English language, and Artistic translation. However, if for some reason a student did not have one of the subjects in his schedule prior this course, it will not be as effective for him, as it would if he or she took required courses. Thus, we encourage educational system and higher educational institutions provide students with more freedom and support in terms of building their own schedule, taking into account prerequisites of all courses.

Another weak point is lack of adequate practice. We have to admit, interpreting in the classroom in front of your class mates may be challenging, but not as frightening as interpreting at a conference or a meeting. Students cannot feel all obstacles they will face in a future at work, nor can they realize what would be crucial points to focus on during the Interpretation course. Students are not prepared to combine the skills of professional interpreter and confident speaker. That is the weak point of educational process planning. Therefore, it is required to provide more opportunities for students to practice in real world environment, or maybe arrange special trainings for them where experts help overcome stage fright and be more confident, as universities frequently do for their faculty members. [5] In addition, constant exposure to foreign language speakers will help significantly, because practice is an absolute must with foreign languages.

Considering all the above mentioned, we can conclude that only by combining these two subjects can we achieve required level of preparation of future interpreters. We believe that new course has to be designed and included into educational plans of higher education institutions. A thorough research of students’ needs, wants, and lacks, as well as environment has to be conducted in order to include all the required information in the course to make it of the most use. The assessment can

be done through questionnaires, quizzes, and conversations between students and a teacher. We can be assured that after studying this course successfully in combination with general progress on other courses required for the Interpretation Science major, the graduate will become a true professional.

When designing the curriculum and selecting topics for reading, writing, and speaking assignment, it is required to analyze future environment that prevails in the area, where students will work. For instance, in EastKazakhstan region, most of the work places include factories among others, which automatically determines the scope of topics: Mining, Metallurgy, Engineering, etc., instead of closely studying Politics, Economics, which could be briefly covered for general knowledge. Applying this principle will assure that graduate will master suitable vocabulary and perform better at work. This is not a solution to all problems, as one never knows where he or she will get to work in a future. That is why we agree that it is more important to teach principles, approaches, and methods to interpretation, rather than certain vocabulary and clichés.

The necessity to study Interpretation and Public Speaking in combination is evident based on provided arguments. Implementing adequate changes can help improve the system of teaching interpreters, who are quite unique labor force. Being confident and professional on stage in front of the audience will allow graduates to be more competitive and wanted candidates by many great companies.



  1. Nikitina, Arina (2011). Successful public speaking. Denmark: Ventus Publishing ApS.
  2. Kaparek, Christopher (1983). The Translator’s Endless Toil. Poland: The Polish Review, 83.
  3. Language interpretation (2013). Retrieved on November 15, 2013 from http:// en. wikipedia.org/ wiki/
  4. Молодежный образовательный портал (2012). Система высшего образования в Республике Казахстан. Ya-student.kz. Retrieved December 25, 2013 from http:// yastudent.kz/ higher_education/ index1. phpКазахстанский университет международных отношений и мировых языков имени Абылай Хана. Кафедра синхронного перевода. Ablaikhan.kz. Retrieved January 7, 2013 from http:// www. ablaikhan. kz/ru/

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International relations

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