Log book for feedback

Whether doing consecutive or simultaneous you will constantly be correcting yourself or being corrected by your peers and your teachers. In order to improve it is worth giving some thought to the types of comments made about your work, recording those comments and acting on them.

Recording comments, or feedback, in an ordered, deliberate fashion is infinitely more useful than writing down what is said to you on any piece of paper you have to hand in the mistaken assumption that you will ever look at it again.

Try keeping an exercise book or notepad in which you note all these comments and only these comments as and when they are made. Note the date of each session when you start and you will immediately create a chronological record of which problems crop up again and again and which ones were more of a one-off, which ones you have corrected for good and which ones you thought had gone away but which have returned. This will help you to see at a glance and then concentrate on what is really important to your development without wasting time on things that are less useful to you personally.

In the same vein split the book into two parts. Distinguish between “generative” and “non-generative” feedback. 

What does this mean? Generative is a phrase used most often in ELT teaching and describes recurring events. Patterns or, for the interpreter, issues of technique. A single problem that crops up many times and which therefore once corrected will have a larger impact on the quality of the interpretation is more interesting than a single one-off mistake. For example if we agree to stop saying “err” while working, this is generative because this one idea can lead to the correction of dozens of individual instances of the “err” noise. Other generative issues will be, correct sentence intonation, speaking skills, reformulation techniques from one language to another (for example, a strategy for German’s “involved” sentences, or sentences beginning “Si” in French) and so on.

Non-generative feedback means one-offs, so for example corrections of specific content. “1993 not 1994” for example or “you said ‘Directive’ instead of ‘Regulation’ “. These comments may be justified but they are less efficient in terms of improving your interpreting in general. They are non-generative and therefore should be accorded less attention than generative issues. (Beware though, as often such apparently lone mistakes are the result of some technique flaw, in which case you must identify the flaw and log it with the other technique issues under “generative”).


Log book for vocabulary

It’s useful to get into the habit of looking up unfamiliar terms and expressions when you come across them. That could be on a computer, but often you will be out and about when something appears, so a phone or a little note-book is often more practical.

Split the book into sections, for example:

At the back make a note of unfamiliar terminology regardless of how obscure. If you keep your eyes open you’ll constantly see new stuff, be it in the DIY store or the window of a temping agency. Do you know what a French coffreur does?

At the front make a note of expressions (and good translations thereof) that are more likely to come up in the sort of meetings that you interpret at. This means that when that term or expression comes up you will already have a version to hand. That saves time and stress in the booth.

Learning vocabulary, rather than just writing it down, will require you to revisit your notes again and again! Or try flashcards!

Recording Vocabulary

Making lists of words is the least likely way to help you remember any new vocabulary. Techniques based on the strengths of the human memory, like visual association (see also Linking and Vocab by Association), context and our own involvement in creating a structure of noting words, work much better. Here are a few examples from one of the best books of its type. Business English – An indiviualised learning program by Michael Lewis and Peter Wilberg.

You’ll find similar advice at the AIIC website: “In your glossary, include not only unfamiliar technical terms, but also recurring topical items of a more general nature, in order to contextualize yourself and to increase their ‘availability’, so that they are on the tip of your tongue when you need them.”

Business English, Michael Lewis and Peter Wilberg, LTP, 1990, Hove, UK.

The following two pages come together and are opposite one another in the book itself.