schools of interpretation as part of the training method with beginning interpreters who first need to learn to listen and speak simultaneously in the same language before beginning to interpret from one language into another.” Several other authors have suggested that “shadowing can be a useful propaedeutic practice to simultaneous interpretation” (Gerver 1974 a,b; Bosatra & Spiller, 1984, as cited in Daró, 1994, p. 251). Moser-Mercer (1994, p. 60) also reports that “shadowing exercises (semantic rather than phonetic shadowing) have been used in a number of entrance exams to test candidates’ ability to listen and speak simultaneously.”
Admitting that there are controversies as to the shadowing task per se, Moser-Mercer (1994, p. 60) stresses that “were we to develop a scale of progressive difficulty for interpreting, semantic shadowing would precede paraphrasing, which would then be followed by simultaneous interpreting.” Moser-Mercer’s scale is supported by “a longer EVS found in SI than in shadowing” (De Groot, 1997, as quoted in Lee, 2002, p. 597) which indicates that shadowing requires relatively less intense cognitive endeavor and thus can be an intermediary step towards the final destination of SI.
As for the sequence, it stands to reason to claim that in an SI training program, phonemic/phonetic shadowing should precede phrase/semantic shadowing as it is cognitively less demanding. That phrase shadowing involves a deeper processing in comparison with phonemic shadowing is proved right by the findings of a study by Chistovitch, Aliakrinskii and Abilian (1960, cited in Lambert, 1994, p. 321); they found “superior recall of the shadowed material” by those subjects who shadowed at longer latencies in comparison with those who shadowed without understanding.
Regarding the depth of processing involved in shadowing, Cherry (1953, as cited in Lambert, 1988, p. 380) found that “although a message can be shadowed accurately, little seems to be retained of its informational content.” This means that the shadowers do not remember much of the content of what they have just shadowed. In line with this, is the finding reported by Waugh and Norman (1965, p. 18, as quoted in Lambert, 1988, p. 380) who concluded that “when subjects shadow verbal material, they have little retention of the material just shadowed even though this material must have undergone considerable processing by the nervous system in order for it to be heard and repeated verbally.” It is on this very account that some experts have questioned the usefulness of the shadowing technique in the process of training to be a simultaneous interpreter; if the recall level is so low, then it can be concluded that the type of mental processes at work during shadowing is different from those at work during SI.
It would be interesting to look at the results of other research as well. Carey (cited in Lambert, 1988) found that under the conditions of both listening and shadowing, the retention scores decreased as the rate of presentation of the input increased, which means that both listeners and shadowers remembered less when the message was presented to them at a higher speed. Carey (quoted in Lambert, 1988, p. 381) argued that when the message is presented at a slower pace, shadowers “have enough time to perceive the words and structure as well as plan and execute the shadowing response; but at faster rates, the subject must both perceive and speak in less time.”
Gerver’s (1974, cited in Lambert, 1988) results, however, indicated that comprehension level was higher after listening in comparison with shadowing. Gerver (cited in Lambert, 1988, p. 381) also incorporated SI in the study and reported that “significantly higher comprehension scores were obtained following the listening condition (58%) than after simultaneous interpretation (51%) and after shadowing (43%).” Based on these findings, Gerver argues that lower retention level cannot be attributed to simultaneity of listening and speaking since the retention scores after SI were higher than those following shadowing.
Trying to explain these findings and touching on the difference between shadowing and SI, Gerver observes that shadowing does not involve the complex analyses of input and output necessary in SI, and that it is a simpler type of processing (Lambert, 1992). SI necessitates deep analyses of input and output and thus is a more complex, intensive processing task than shadowing. That deeper analysis is what accounts for the higher level of comprehension and retention of message after SI in comparison with shadowing.
What Gerver could not justify drawing on the same line of reasoning was that the comprehension scores after SI were poorer than those after the comparatively more passive task of listening. To justify this, Gerver (quoted in Lambert, 1988, pp. 381-382) argues that “when listening, the subject is able to devote all of his attention, in other words his full channel capacity, to processing, not having to share his attention among multiple tasks, which could explain the higher comprehension scores for listening.”
The results obtained by Mackintosh (1985, cited in Lambert, 1988, p. 382) are also indicative of the fact that “simultaneous interpretation imposes the heaviest processing load on interpreters.”
Lambert (1988, p. 386) writes in concluding the findings of her own study “by weighing the retention scores obtained by interpreters following four tasks, it would appear that deeper processing of incoming material occurs during listening and consecutive interpretation, followed by simultaneous interpretation and lastly, by shadowing.”
As already stated, shadowing exercise has got its opponents as well. Déjean Le Féal (1997, p. 617) writes:
The shadowing technique is apparently still employed in some schools although most teachers now agree that it is useless and even counter-productive.
Indeed, instead of focusing students’ attention on the cognitive content of an utterance shadowing makes them concentrate on the way it is worded, and thus prepares them not to interpret but to transcode it. Moreover, since it is perfectly possible to shadow a speaker without even attempting to understand what he is trying to get at, shadowing may indeed lead students to commit the worst possible methodological error in SI: mindless parroting.
Déjean Le Féal’s main argument against the fruitfulness of shadowing exercise in SI training is that rather than helping the trainee to learn to pay attention to the content of the incoming input, it leads them to pay full attention to the form of the source language. The same thing is mentioned by Seleskovitch (1999, p. 62) who quoted those who “note how counter-productive shadowing is; it inevitably detracts students’ attention from sense and focuses it on a succession of words.” Thus, while it is an excellent way to improve the trainees’ L2 proficiency, “shadowing, and indeed B language improvement techniques in general, are the exact opposite of the approach needed to learn interpreting.” (Déjean Le Féal, 1997, p. 621)
Although there might be some truth in what she says, Déjean Le Féal seems to have gone a bit too far to claim that shadowing and other L2 improvement techniques are the exact opposite of what we need in interpreting training.
2.4.2 Sight Translation
Since we have already provided an account of what sight translation is, how it is performed, what the different types of ST are, etc. in section 2.2.3, we will not go into those details again and will just mention some remarks highlighting the importance of ST as a teaching technique in SI training.
Lambert (2004, p. 294) stresses that “Pedagogically speaking, it is recommended that sight interpretation be included in any cognitive approach to a simultaneous-interpreter training program.” She concludes her paper by saying “sight interpretation could be effectively used as an intermediate step, as if it involved ‘training wheels’ (Dejean-Leféal 1997), before weaning students off the visual support and letting them try simultaneous interpretation without text.” (Lambert, 2004, p. 304)
Lee (2012, p. 696) summarizes the significance of ST, as well as the lack of attention thereto, in SI training as follows:
ST is a part of interpreter training since it is considered effective in raising students’ awareness of syntactic and stylistic differences between source language and target language (Martin 1993: 400; Viaggio 1995: 34-35). ST is useful in developing oral skills and language transfer skills through syntactically restructuring and paraphrasing of the source text (Ilg and Lambert 1996: 73). However, despite its importance in the field and in interpreter training, ST has not attracted sufficient scholarly attention in the existing literature on interpreting and interpreter training.
2.4.3 Consecutive Interpretation
As we have given a rather detailed account of CI in section 2.2.2, we will not repeat those here, but rather will try to stress the role of CI as a preparatory exercise in training students for SI.
CI has been traditionally included in almost all interpreting training programs. Having compared and contrasted different teaching exercises such as shadowing, dual-tasking, paraphrasing, etc., Déjean Le Féal (1997, p. 618) dubs CI as “the fastest and safest way” to achieve the pedagogical goals of an SI training program. She explains the reason behind such a contention as follows:
The rationale of this approach is of course the widely recognized fact that SI is merely a contraction of the consecutive technique with the different phases overlapping instead of following one another. Indeed it is for this reason that consecutive is normally taught before SI. It would therefore seem natural to use the technique of CI as an aid in teaching SI.