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1 Draft Research Questions

The purpose of this initial exercise is to pose three research questions relevant to our
professional practice as interpreters or translators.
These questions must carry a specific concern or interest from our student perspective;
thus, helping us improve on any weakness or bad habit that may be affecting our
professional productivity.

How can we interpret cultural-bound terminologies that do not necessarily have

an equivalent in language B than in language A?
As professional interpreters, how can we truly determine what are the central
points that our client wants to get across to the audience?
What would be the best strategy to interpret in situations where our client does
not have a clue of what they are saying?

1.2 RevisedResearchQuestions

For this essay, I will make a final decision regarding the research question that will be
addressed during this semester.
For the past couple of weeks, I have been observing my practice.
Though I have been working with a variety of materials as well as with a range of
topics, I have unfortunately encountered only two cultural-bound terminologies that
would help me with my original research question. That is why I have decided to
change my investigation.
Thanks to my practice sessions, I have found out that taking notes does not come
easily to me, as a matter a fact, my notes are way too complicated and even so I do not
manage to render the entire message successfully.
This has led me to over stress myself before a practice session, having as an
immediate consequence the inability to save important information I need in my short-
term memory.
I will dedicate my investigation to locating different exercises and methods of
note taking. I will put them into practice, record the results and by the end of the

semester I will have not only developed my own symbol system but I should be able to
render effectively.
My research topic will be:

How does an interpretation student develop a note-taking technique suitable for him?

What I want to do is record the process of trial and error, compare results with different
systems and decide if the best way for me to take notes is just with one method in
particular or by combining two or several techniques.
Though I would have liked to pursue my initial research question, I need to tackle
the issue that keeps appearing during my practice sessions. I am sure that by the
completion of this exercise will kill two birds with one stone: complete the required
assignment for this course and start to actually become an interpreter by developing a
note-taking technique that will allow me to render any message effectively.

1.3 SummaryofaPieceofResearch

I chose to speak in detail about the book written by Roderick Jones; Conference
Interpreting Explained.
The reason I chose this particular book was because it explains the basics of
note-taking in a very simple way. It made me realize that I was doing everything wrong.
However, I am very happy to say that the book; which will be briefly commented
in this short summary, has helped me understand what is expected of me as an
Per Jones 1 notes are not an end in themselves, but a means to and end (p. 43)
this sole sentence helped me put things in perspective. I realized that I must not
concentrate on every single word, but I must focus on analyzing the meaning of what is
being said. Once the message is understood, the notes will be simple and therefore it will
be easier to render a message.
As Jones said; the purpose of notes is to jog and to relieve the interpreters
memory (p.44) This taught me that interpreters should note down the main ideas and
things hard to remember: numbers, names or very specific details, but never should
interpreters write down the whole speech.

1, 3,4 Jones, R. (2014), Conference Interpreting Explained. New York: Routledge.


The correct way to note down a main idea per the author is: subject/verb/object
in a diagonal layout,2 (p.49) this is exactly what I needed to know. I did not understand
how or what to note. But this simplified everything for me. I finally established a
foundation from where to start. All other suggestions, theories and recommendations to
better note-taking that I have adopted stem from this basic principle.
In terms of rendering, the author suggested that 3 interpreters (as any public
speaker) must learn the art of glancing down a their notes to remind them of what they
are to say next and then delivering that text while looking at the audience. (p. 70) As a
novice student, I used to forget that I was rendering a message for an audience and that I
had to speak clearly and not too fast. With practice, I have gotten better at rendering
messages; at times I still encounter difficulty doing so whilst interpreting a problematic
speech. I do manage to correct myself while rendering a message in an incorrect way,
but I am not even close to where I want to be.
I remember how I was taking notes at the beginning of this course of study,
chunks of sentences, words loosely jotted on a page that in the end made no sense at all,
everything was conglomerated and in the end, all this extra work had no positive
outcome, because there was no sense in anything.
Once I looked at the notes made by one of my professors and I was amazed by the
simplicity of them. I will one day like to accomplish notes with that kind of minimalism.
I wonder how many years it took him to find such uncomplicated notes.
This author helped me decompose and put together the principals of taking notes in
a broad and understandable way. After trial and error, I now realize that I was doing
everything wrong. I now know how difficult and how much work it takes to come up
with a note-taking system that is effective and simple.

1.4 CommentedBibliography

I chose seven authors who, in my opinion, have helped improve my note-taking

skills. I will briefly comment on five of the authors chosen for the bibliography used for
the main objective of this investigation.


I. Gillies, A. (2005). Note Taking For Consecutive Interpreting-A Short Course.

United Kingdom: St. Jerome Publishing.
This book has helped me in so many ways. It did provide a few exercises, which did
server their purpose. However, what I liked about this book is that it explains in detail
using narrative. The combination of narrative and exercises has proven to be very useful
for me. I enjoyed reading the whys of the practice. It helped me gain background
knowledge, whereas exercises, I think, only systemize a way of performing certain

II. Gillies, A. (2013) Conference Interpreting. A students practice book. U.S.A

and Canada: Routledge.
This book is brilliant. It has a plethora of exercises that were used to improve several
aspects of my life as an interpreter. This book has helped me by providing tasks that
help target specific issues in note-taking. The author gradually increments the difficulty
of the problems addressed throughout the books progression. Now I am at the point of
working on the links and the hierarchies in a speech. Without this book, I would have
not been able to progress the way I have.

III. Jones, R. (2014) Conference Interpreting Explained. New York: Routledge.

This book explained the basics in a very simple form. It has helped me put thing into
perspective. My brain works in a frenetic way. It is like coloring outside the lines of a
coloring book all day long. But this book has helped me pay attention on what I need to
focus on subject, verb, and object and it has made it very clear that notes are a means
to an end.

IV. Nolan, J. (2011)Interpretation. Techniques and Exercises: United Kingdom,

U.S.A and Canada. Multilingual Matters LTD.
This book helped by showing me how to integrate symbols to the notes that are being
taken. The author encouraged the creation of symbols based on our everyday live. I now
have symbols for various terms. The author also provides a list of specific terms that all
interpreter should have at least an idea of what symbol to use such as: global warming,
marginalization, migration, science and so on.

V. Henderson, J. (1976) Note-Taking for Consecutive Interpreting. Babel.

(XXII). 107-116.
The aspect that differentiated this author from the others was that it made me think
about numbers. I had not thought about numbers and the difficulty the pose prior to this
article. Luckily, Henderson made it easy to think about several strategies when dealing
with large figures. It also made me aware of the equivalence issue with figures like one
hundred million, a billion and so on. This still poses a great challenge for me, however I
have developed an equivalence table to aid me in this daunting task.

VI. Agnieszka, C. (2010) How Effective is Teaching Note-Taking to Trainee

Interpreters? Routledge. (IV) 233-250.
VII. Lung, R. (1999) Note-Taking Skills and Comprehension In Consecutive
Interpretation. Babel. (XLV) 312-317.

1.5 Analysis of Self Assessment

The purpose of this assignment is to showcase the progress and work made during the

course of this semester in regards to my research question.

Fragments of a practice log, which was worked on for the past two months, will

be found in the pages coming ahead. This journal, as I like to call it, has my feelings,

and my goals, as well as my failures and progressions made during the past eight weeks.

This journal has two basic purposes, the first being to track my progress in

various aspects: memory, delivery, syntax, and choice of words. The latter purpose is to

track any progression made during course of the current semester in regards to note


I chose this method of tracking down my progress because I like to tell stories; I

decided that this project is going to be my diary. It is easier for me to maintain as well,

and it is a good reflection exercise for me because I re-think what is it that I did during

the particular study session.


Date: 10-01-2014
Location: Casell-lab
Material: Material developed in class by our classmates as a homework assignment.
People involved in practice: Yigal Dosier, Cassandra Alles, Susana Fredin, April Cruz,
Sandra Gomez, Linda Saucedo, Natalia Valencia etc.
Strategies: Start taking notes.
Languages: English to Spanish.

Take notes and get the message across.
5-minute presentation developed by our classmates as homework. The topic was
We also were given an improvised Wikipedia text about dogs, which was read by the
Style/terminology/choice of words:
In all honesty, my notes were unreadable. I was not able to get past the 1st sentence.
I tried to notate everything, which obviously did not work. The fact that I quickly wrote
everything down did not help me at all. My notes were not decipherable. I was so
focused on getting every word down, that I did not pay much attention to what the main
idea was.
I wrote down entire sentences!
Did I achieve my goal?
This question offends at this point. No.
Problematic terminologies:
In all honesty there were no problematic terminologies during this exercise.
I felt very pressured and insecure. I felt I had to write down everything. I was so
nervous that I knew I could not rely on my brain.
The professor read the Wikipedia article very fast. My notes were a disaster.
This has taught me that one has to be prepared for everything.

Date: 10-02-14

Location: Cassell-lab
Material: Speeches provided to us by instructor
People involved in practice: Cassandra and I
Strategies: Put attention to the message not to the notes
Languages: B to A

Render the message successfully aided by my notes and memory.
Videos that were about different topics.
Style/terminology/choice of words:
I liked how I rendered the message (it was not perfect, but it was much better than last
time) I would have liked to use more elegant words, but other than that I would say that
I liked the final outcome of the rendering. The notes are another story. I destroyed them.
I was so angry with myself.

Listen to what the speaker is saying, concentrating on key words.

Did I achieve my goal?

Just because I was able to render the message, does not mean that my notes were good.

Problematic terminologies:
Not today.

Date: 10-07-2014

Location: Cassell-lab
Material: Material given to us by instructor. (The type of videos/material that were on
the admissions test.)
People involved in practice: Just me and Cassandra
Strategies: Listening before notes are taken.
Languages: B-A

Take fewer notes and render the complete message.
The type of videos used on the admissions test for the program.
Style/terminology/choice of words:
I liked the terminology used. I had trouble finding a correct or a native way of putting
same sex schools. I stutter. I need to stop doing that. It is obnoxious.

Concentrating on the message provided and taking notes once the main concept is
Did I achieve my goal?
No. I can feel myself getting better at rendering. But my notes are not getting to where I
want them to be. Im doing something wrong, I just do not know what it is yet.
Problematic terminologies:
Same sex schools.

Date: 10-08-2014
Location: Casell-lab.
Material: Material developed by our classmates as a homework assignment. (5-minute
speech about anything that we would like to talk about)
People involved in practice: All of my Spanish classmates
Strategies: Separate object/verb/object.
Languages: B-A

Take orderly, understandable notes. And start using the symbols I have been developing
as well.
Material provided by our classmates (5 minute speeches)
Style/terminology/choice of words:
Cassandras speech was confusing for me. (Too much of everything.) I got caught in the
details. I am going to start taking notes with a pencil. Maybe the non-smooth surface of
the pencil will help me separate my hand from the paper. But Susanas I did well. Not
perfect, but well. I did deliver that message across but I had a little trouble thanks to my
messy notes.
Listened, understood the message then proceeded to take notes. I took less notes but I
need to learn not to use many words.
Did I achieve my goal?
Not the point that I wanted.
Problematic terminologies:
I said something along the lines of the people were gassed instead of the people were
sprayed with tear gas. My instructor told me that gassed alludes to WWII. Therefor
is it politically incorrect to use that specific term.

Date: 10-09 2014

Location: Casell-lab
Material: 2 videos
People involved in practice: Susana Fredin.
Strategies: Listen to the message and get a grip on my notes!
Languages: A-B

NOTES! Take notes that actually look like notes, not like a 5 year-old-coloring book.
Videos. They were paused every 1.5 minutes. One video spoke about electricity; the
other video spoke about the delicate skin of the Irish people
Style/terminology/choice of words:
I am quite happy, especially with the outcome of the video about electricity. Some
words were not so easy for me to pass into English.
I started using symbols and I used a pencil; which was very beneficial to me. I am
taking fewer notes, but my notes are way too big and I have no order while taking my
notes. Its like spaghetti.
Did I achieve my goal?
I am improving. But I still have not achieved what I want to achieve.
Problematic terminologies:
I failed to differentiate latitude from altitude.

Date: 10-14 2014

Location: Casell-lab
Material: Video carrying a message from Argentinas president: Cristina Fernandez
People involved in practice: Yigal Dozier, Cassandra Alles, Susana Fredin.
Strategies: separating subject/verb/object.
Languages: A-B

Succeeding in achieving clean and simple notes.

I listened to a video, which was stopped every minute. The president had just lost her
husband and she was addressing the nation to thank the support she has gotten from it.

Another video, which was paused every 1-2 minutes (I do not remember exactly) this
video was about the authorization of using portable phones on an airplane while on

Style/terminology/choice of words:
I must say, I am very proud of myself. I am very satisfied with the way I delivered the
message. It was clear and fluid. Now that I think about it, I could have delivered the
message with a higher register. Nonetheless, I know I did well.

In order to fight the urge of writing as soon as the speaker opened his/her mouth, I had
to put my pen on the table and force myself to listen first. It was worth it. I started
noting when I understood the first main idea.
My notes are clear, much more orderly and I did write a lot less. I know I could have
used fewer words and more symbols, but my main goal was achieved, which was taking
simple, clean and understandable notes.
I used a diagonal layout. I separated the subject, verb and the object. This worked very
well for me.

Did I achieve my goal?

I finally can say: yes, I did.

Problematic terminologies:
Yes. There were a few words part of the Argentine everyday vocabulary that I did not

Location: Casell-lab.
Material: Video of a man saying what is going on in regards to the utilization of
cellular phones during a flight.
People involved in practice: Yigal Dozier, Cassandra Alles, Susana Fredin.
Strategies: Listen, understand then note.
Languages: B to B.

Use fewer words than in the previous exercise.
I listened to a video, which was stopped every minute. The video was about a man
informing us (the public) what is going on in regards to a new policy in which airlines
allow their customers to use their phone during a flight.
Style/terminology/choice of words:

I am very happy with the outcome. And the words I used were adequate for this
exercise. A problem I did encounter was that, I said a couple of sentences that did not
sound natural. I need to stop doing that. It is so difficult though, because I do not catch
myself until I have already said it. There are times where I do not catch myself using
these non-normal verbalizations; the good thing about it is that I have many classmates
that are willing to let me know.

I listened and took notes once I was sure about the mail idea. This saves me so much
writing and it helps me stress much less.

Did I achieve my goal?

I am beyond happy! Yes!

Problematic terminologies:
I used the word portable phone (I do not know why) but it was suggested to me that I
not use it.
There were no problematic terms, per say, sometimes it is just the way I word things. Or
the way I put together very specific sentences.

Going back to my practice log and analyzing the progress made during this semester has

been very insightful. I learned many things, not only about myself but about the

profession as well.

This diary is a constant reminder that there is always something that can and

must be improved. I remember my first note-taking exercise; my notes were literally

sentences, and they remained that way for a few sessions. Though I did manage to get

rid of that vile habit, I still have many issues that I need to keep working on.

To this day, I still use whole words, which bothers me very much. I have learned

to use them a lot less and, though simple, symbols are slowly making their way into my


Another issue that keeps on appearing is the space that my notes occupy. My

professors suggest that I need to space my notes out more. I have done so. And I will

continue to do so. My notes are no longer compressed in a single page. I must say, I do

not feel very comfortable having so much space in between my notes. It makes me

anxious. That is something I must continue working on.

While reviewing my log, I remembered an occasion when I noted in both Spanish

and English. I did manage to render the message, but it was difficult for me to do so.

Then I started to take my notes only in English, no matter the SL, but I found out that in

doing so, it distracted me from listening to the message. Afterwards, I tried taking my

notes in Spanish, again, no matter the SL, I had the same result; I ended up not paying

attention to the message and giving all my attention to the language. I discovered that

what works for me is: noting in the SL.

Towards the end of a speech, for a reason I have not yet discovered; the notes I

take start falling out of place. I have trouble keeping the momentum mustered at the

beginning of the session.

Thanks to the guidance of professors, classmates and books, a clear shift of note-taking

skills can be observed. I am happy to say that there has been a positive evolution in

regards to the way I take notes. I still have much to improve, but the work done during

the first weeks of this program have proven to be an essential foundation for my career.

I do believe that my research log is applicable to my investigation. Every time I

looked back at a previous record, I knew exactly what I did not want to do. Note taking

is not the only aspect taken into account. I also took it upon myself to analyze other

traits that, I belief, are important. I wanted to make this log as complete as possible. I

want to progress in a homogeneous way, because I consider that the skills needed for

interpreting complement each other. In order to achieve my goal I have keep track of the

progress made, if any.

At this point, I am trying to find a way to shift towards an effective utilization of

symbols. I need to have that breakthrough moment. I am constantly searching for it. At

this moment, I am relying on the seven basis principals of note-taking suggested by

Jean-Franoise Rozan. I am also practicing some of the recommendations by Andre

Gillies, such as making myself aware of the verbs most commonly used, so I can then

proceed to create a symbol for them: words like change, support, announce, want,

decline, relations etc. I also must come to terms with the fact that there is not going to

be a symbol for every single word and that there are words that are going to share a

symbol because they are synonyms. Words like: think, consider, and ponder are

synonyms and only one symbol is needed. It is as simple as that.

I still think that my memory has improved and that my notes reflect that. I need to

keep on working on it. I need to make sure that I never substitute memory for notes.

That is an issue that I struggle with each day. What I do is put down my pen and listen,

once I have the main idea I will start noting. I must confess that there are occasions

where my memory serves me wrong. Yesterday, for example, I was not able to clearly

remember the speech. I am still very upset with myself. But this is a good lesson

because it teaches me that I have to learn what to do when these situations occur in real


The layout of this whole exercise has been very productive for me. The beautiful

part about it is going back to the beginning and remembering where I started. Being able

to palpably look at the progress made is settling. I know I am not an interpreter yet, but

these little victories as I like to call them, are a constant incentive that makes me want

to keep on learning more.