One of the first things we were told at MIIS was that to be a good interpreter you need to listen actively. But what does that mean and how can we become active listeners?
We practiced and practiced to master the art of truly listening to what is being said during our interpreting classes and study groups, but there are things you can do in your everyday life to improve your listening skills.
In his article, What Good is Listening Anyway?, Scott McDowell gives 6 tips on how to listen more actively and thus improve your overall listening skills. The article is not aimed at interpreters or interpreting students, but they too can benefit from Scott’s tips; tips 4 (Summarize and paraphrase) and 5 (Listen for what’s NOT being said) can be particularly useful for us.
On top of that, if we make an effort to include these tips in our everyday conversations, we will constantly train our active listening. This will not only improve our performance as interpreters, but it will also make us better listeners in general, a very useful skill in itself.