top of page

How to Prepare for an Interpreting Assignment

We've all been there. Or will be there eventually.

No matter how many certifications we hold or how many workshops we've taken, there will always be a point in your journey as an interpreter where you're faced with a first-of-its-kind-for-you type of assignment.

That happened to me this week when I was booked to team interpret at a jury selection. Of course, I was upfront and honest with my colleagues and clients about my theory-only knowledge of this type of proceeding. Still, I was up for the challenge to prepare to succeed as best as possible.

So, here's my simple 5-step process to prepare for an assignment:


Find out everything you can about your upcoming assignment. And I mean - Everything!

From the location, the name of the parties you'll be working with, case number if it's a court case, etc. If you didn't get the information upfront, don't hesitate to ask for it! The agency or party who requested your services can most likely provide it or point you in the right direction for you to find it.

As part of this step, you can also ask colleagues with experience in this type of assignment to give you some pointers to help you prepare. This is also an excellent opportunity to network!


This is a crucial step because it will set the foundational knowledge you'll have of this subject. So, you must be careful and selective of the sources you read.

Find sources in the two languages that you'll have to work with, and ideally, try to find sources that were originally written in each language and not translated.

Read with the only goal of soaking up all the information you can about the topic but try not to think about how you'd interpret it as you go along.

Now, since sometimes we can't help but multitask for the sake of time, you can highlight or jot down key terms to research later.


Once you have a good understanding of the topic, it's time to start working on your glossary.

You can start by researching key terms you found while reading and keep expanding your glossary as you work on the next steps.

Search online for "[name of the topic] glossary" because, most likely, there's at least a monolingual glossary already created that can help you expand yours.


Now it's time to get down to business and start practicing with a purpose to really cement what you've learned and command that new terminology.

Try to find practice material related to the type of assignment you're preparing for with a recording and its transcript. It's essential to have both the recording and the script because a critical element of good practice is being able to record yourself so you can compare your interpretation to the transcript.


Yep. Watch. Whatever you can find related to the topic. This is by far my favorite step.

Nowadays, with so many court proceedings, medical interventions, and activities of all kinds recorded on video and available for us to watch on YouTube, you can almost become a subject matter expert just by watching videos.

Don't forget Netflix, and many other streaming services (including some free ones too) may have a lot of options for you.


One last recommendation is to print your reference material and bring it to your assignment. As much as I love technology, In my experience, I don't always get to access my laptop or electronic devices during an assignment, so it's best to bring hard copies of those.

There's a first time for everything and I hope this little guide helps you create your own system to prepare for your next first-time assignment.

192 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page