What is the Difference between Consecutive and Simultaneous Interpretation?

The audience determines simultaneous or consecutive interpreting services. When it comes to speaking with people in another language, you simply need to hire an interpreter who can speak both – right? Well, yes, but not totally. The truth is that your interpretation needs will vary depending on your situation.

The easiest way to explain the difference between consecutive interpretation and simultaneous interpretation is this:

  • Consecutive Interpretation: The interpreter talks after the speaker pauses, giving the interpreter time to process and translate from the first language to the second.

  • Simultaneous Interpretation: The interpreter speaks at the same time as the original speaker; there are no pauses.

Consecutive interpreting is typically used for one-on-one meetings, such as depositions, legal proceedings, or medical appointments.

On the other hand, simultaneous interpreting requires at least two interpreters as well as interpreting equipment. It is generally used with large audiences, such as at conferences, a board of directors meetings, multilateral organizations, and non-profit events. The interpreters may work from a booth that either is or isn’t in the same room as the speaker.