Acting Techniques for the Interpreter

Acting Techniques for the Interpreter

We’ve drawn a parallel once before of the similarities between the skill sets of actors and the skill sets of interpreters. While the two are very different fields, many techniques used by actors can be utilized by interpreters. There are many occasions while interpreting that either suppressing or conjuring emotion may be helpful. Also, vocal techniques and physical adjustments can aide the interpreter in getting the job done as healthily as possible.

There are many famed acting technique teachers, all with their own methods. Uta Hagen, for example, uses “substitution” as a main technique, which can be incredibly helpful for interpreters. It involves recreating a memory in the mind that is the opposite or the same (depending on the circumstance) of the situation for which one is interpreting, in order to bring the emotion (or lack of emotion), of that memory into the interpretation.

There are also several public speaking techniques that can be useful to interpreters. One trick for successful speaking in public is admitting nervousness. Both in acting and public speaking, we tend to let nerves get the best of us. When we acknowledge the nervousness, we can often use it to our advantage instead of letting it be our downfall.

Emotional life is a difficult thing to have a handle on. Whether it’s interpreting in a courtroom or running a successful business, emotions are a part of human life and will always creep in when least expected. There are many articles and blogs on how to manage emotions in the workplace, but it is surprisingly easy to achieve emotional management when one puts acting techniques into play.

Interpreter Education Online will be unveiling an all new set of courses in the coming months that feature in-depth studies on these techniques as well as other focused lessons. Keep your eyes peeled, and in the meantime, join the conversation on our LinkedIn and Facebook pages!


We offer online training options for legal and medical interpreters as well as translators. Programs include training courses, tests, linguistic resources, training guides, and Skype lessons with interpretation instructors. Our training will benefit those who are aspiring interpreters, interpreters who want to prepare for a certification exam, or certified interpreter certification exams. Training options are available in Albanian, Arabic, Cantonese, French, Haitian-Creole, Hmong, German, Korean, Mandarin, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and Vietnamese.