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As the name suggests, simultaneous interpretating is done at practically the same time as the speaker’s intervention. Given the speed at which they must work, simultaneous interpreters only ever translate into one target language (usually their native language), although they may sometimes work from more than one source language. Since in simultaneous interpreting the interpreter speaks at the same time as the speaker, special facilities are needed, basically a booth that is connected to the seats of the listeners, who in turn listen to the interpreter with headphones.
Simultaneous interpretation, officially known as “conference interpreting”, requires ample experience and specific interpreting techniques which are usually taught in post-graduate university courses. It requires strenuous mental effort, owing to the continued concentration involved, and can only be maintained for periods of 30-45 minutes. For longer periods, two interpreters usually alternate in one booth.
Simultaneous interpreting is the technique used when there is a single speaker and a large number of listeners, such as at congresses, conferences, courses, shareholders’ meetings and similar events.