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Exercises for note-taking in consecutive

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These exercises and more can be found in Conference Interpreting - A Students'Companion, A Gillies, 2001, (p76-78) and are reproduced with the kind permission of Tertium Krakow). More exercises can be found in the 2004 revised edition of this book, Conference Interpreting - A New Students' companion..

The formatting problems and typos found on this page are not present in the printed version.

Conference Interpreting - A New Students' Companion, Tertium Cracow 2004.

5 Note-taking

What and how to note should be part of any interpreting course and may will differ greatly from one place to the next, however, the techniques for which I suggest practice exercises below are widely used.

Each of these elements of note-taking can be practised in isolation and without the time pressure associated with live note-taking. By practising elements regularly and in isolation they become automatic more quickly, thus when we interpret we can concentrate on the many issues that are more important than note-taking. i.e. listening, Comprehension, analysis and reformulation!(Weber)

Noting less

5.1 Listening to the news. Note one word per news item and then try to reproduce each item afterwards.

5.2 Reading newspaper articles. Note one word per paragraph and then try to recreate it afterwards.› Annex 1.1

5.3 One student prepares a short speech containing say 5 clear ideas – listeners agree to note only five words while listening to the speech and interpret on the basis of those notes.

Students must listen and analyse in order to decide which 5 words best represent the core ideas of the speech

5.5 Read newspaper articles. Take notes from an article using diagonal/ vertical note-taking techniques - read article back from notes. › also Annex 1.4 and IV 5 “Efficient Preparation”.

5.6 While still unfamiliar with the technique practice notetaking from slow, short speeches.

Using margins (e.g. for link words) many interpreters swear by the use of margins at the left-hand side of the page (i.e. to highlight link words (conjunctions)/ structural pointers (numbering and paragraph markers) / and viewpoints see Jones). Here are some exercises to accustom ourselves to using margins to note link words. Similar exercises can be created for different uses of margin.

5.7 Read articles highlighting the link words. › Annex 1.3.

5.8 Practice notetaking from articles, noting only the link words in the margin (or only link words plus one word per paragraph). Reproduce as speech. › Annex 1.2. › Annex 1.3.


5.9 After a speech rewrite your notes in "fair copy". Concentrate on aspects of note-taking technique that you have been taught but perhaps ignored under the pressure of the moment. Try to arrive at a set of “ideal” notes (- ideal according to your own style of note-taking or that which you are using). › 5.11 (Rozan)

5.10 Speeches prepared for lessons and practice sessions should be noted/written in consecutive note style.

These notes will not correspond exactly to what might have been noted from a spoken speech (inter alia the role of memory will be different if we prepare hours/days in advance) however for the reasons explained below it can still be a very useful exercise.

In preparation we practise note-taking techniques (i.e. brevity and clarity of our notes, familiarizng ourselves with the use of symbols or margins for example. › Consecutive notetaking V 5.10 and V 5.11) without the time pressure associated with note-taking from live speeches. Also when giving the speech to colleagues students practise note reading and delivery. By giving speeches for fellow students you have not, therefore, sacrificed your own practice time but rather practised different, but equally important, skills.› Annex 1.4.

5.11 Practise taking notes while sitting at a desk or table, with the pad on your lap while sitting and while standing.

Depending on the market you end up working on or the meetings you attend you may have to be proficient at note-taking in all three positions. Practising taking notes whilst sitting back in your chair with your legs crossed and the pad on your lap can also help you to relax while note-taking as the posture is naturally less tense than being hunched over a desk or table.


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