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Quality of interpreting assignments

Professional conference interpreters will ask the client for preparatory material in good time before an interpreting assignment. The client is making a decisive contribution to the preparation for and therefore to the success of the interpreting by providing this information material and documentation. 

Advisable preparatory material:

General information on the event:  place, time, number of participants/list of participants etc.

General preparatory material: background information on the client (homepage), order of the day, list of speakers, biographies of speakers, specific client terminology, information on the negotiating parties

Specific preparatory material: PowerPoint presentations, abstracts, speech manuscripts, conference folder (in different languages), event schedule, documents (contracts and agreements that may be quoted), press releases, product brochures (any data sheets, other technical documentation), documents that should be read Minutes from previous meetings, correspondence, draft contracts Relevant picture and sound material and corresponding scripts etc.

The event organiser and the consultant interpreter should also agree in detail on the planning, processing and preparation of a planned event. It may be recommendable to hold a briefing before the event with all conference organizers, interpreters and speakers. 

The responsible person in the team of interpreters (called team leader or chef d'équipe) will stay in contact with the client during the event in order to ensure a smooth organization process.

Quality, Professionalism, Collegiality. The success of international events greatly depends on the quality of the interpreting services. However quality is not a result of chance! It is created from a combination of professionalism and collegiality. In connection with conference interpreting this means that the interpreters hold a corresponding qualification from their training, have maintained this through continued education, are continually expanding their general and specialist knowledge (lifelong learning), take their professional responsibilities seriously and prepare carefully for each client and interpreting assignment. Conference interpreters need to work together as a team for the sake of the quality of the interpreting services, support one another and treat each other with fairness and transparency in order to thus ensure the success of a multi-lingual event for the client.     

Titles such as ?conference interpreter?, ?simultaneous interpreter?, ?liaison interpreter?, ?interpreter? etc. are not protected job titles. 

Professional associations for conference interpreters offer a fundamental guarantee for the professionalism of their members by requiring admission criteria. Their members also undertake to uphold rules of professional and honourable conduct for conference interpreters that detail the principles of professional and collegial conduct such as confidentiality, transparency and careful preparation. These kinds of rules of professional and honourable conduct and the acceptance process allow the professional associations to undertake active quality assurance and thus provide orientation in a heterogeneous market.

* Courtesy of the VKD im BDÜ e.V.


Qualification: the work of a conference interpreter is demanding and the training is usually obtained by studying at a university. In Germany the university courses to train as a conference interpreter (degree: qualified interpreter) are currently being converted to the degree of Master of Arts (MA) in Conference Interpreting as part of the Bologna Process. This will also make it possible for graduates of different university courses to obtain the qualification as an interpreter (MA) by taking a further course of study. Private schools and other facilities also offer interpreting exams but these are not at the level of those offered by Universities and advanced technical colleges and are therefore often not recognised by international organisations and language services.

* Courtesy of the VKD im BDÜ e.V.