Simultaneous interpretation is a crucial skill for aspiring and practicing interpreters to master, as it is used in numerous settings, including conference, court, and medical interpreting venues. Excellent bilingual proficiency is a prerequisite of course, but the complex skill itself—listening to natural speech (and often faster than normal!), cognitively decoding it into the target language, and then rendering an accurate interpretation while typically staying a full thought behind the speaker—requires serious and sustained practice to master. The time difference between what the speaker says and its rendering into the target language by the interpreter is referred to as décalage, a French word that means “lag.” This “lag” is usually 5 words, and there are conference interpreters who have a décalage of 10, 15 or even more words.
Of the many practice strategies, shadowing is one of the most important because it “trains your brain” to perform a cognitive task that only interpreters are called upon to accomplish. (For additional strategies, see González, R. D., Vásquez, V. F., and Mikkelson, H. (2012). Fundamentals of court interpretation: Theory, policy, and practice. 2nd ed. Durham, NC: Carolina Academic Press, pp. 856 – 867.) Shadowing is repeating in the same language what a speaker says. When you shadow, try to stay one full thought behind the speaker. This gets you used to the simultaneous act of talking and listening. Shadowing is most useful in your second language. For shadowing, you can listen to audio in your second language. Then, once your performance becomes fluent, you can begin interpreting into the target language. There are many excellent resources on the internet, such as the following links with information on simultaneous interpreting as well as audio and video of English and other languages to practice both shadowing and interpreting.
Site dedicated to conference interpreting with a large number of simultaneous and consecutive training tips and exercises.
Online library of conference interpreting resources.
Large repository of recorded speeches for simultaneous practice.
Vital speeches of the day—resources for simultaneous practice.
Voice of America news videos at three levels of difficulty and speed. Includes texts and videos.
Numerous videos on topics related to public speaking.