Interpreters: You Can Master Note-Taking!

Connecting Cultures would like to thank Andrew Jerger, for contributing this article in which he generously share highlights of his upcoming presentation for the 9th Annual TAHIT Educational Symposium!


One of the primary goals for a healthcare interpreter is to interpret at a highly accurate level.  Proper note-taking can help insure that the complete message is faithfully interpreted.  In addition, note-taking can be useful at reducing stress in difficult scenarios and at the same time the interpreter can feel confident that the message being interpreted has been accurately communicated.Note-taking, like the other skills interpreters use, is not an “automatic” skill, and interpreters can experience pitfalls when attempting to take notes without proper skills training and practice. A common mistake many interpreters make is that they take either too many notes or fail to take notes on the key units of information. Other times, interpreters lack appropriate eye-contact or become overwhelmed by either the message or task of note-taking. In some cases, interpreters avoid note-taking altogether and in doing so, they miss the opportunity to maximize their own memory capacity.

Learning this advanced skill, however, will help interpreters improve their flow and accuracy during the triadic encounter.

If you’re planning to attend the 2015 TAHIT Symposium, join us to discover how the FAST Method for note-taking can become a valuable resource for the medical interpreter. You’ll learn how this unique tool differs from the traditional shorthand by combining the use of symbols, healthcare acronyms and abbreviations.  Part of the session will focus on isolating key ideas in a message, and the presentation will highlight how to take notes on key information. You’ll have the opportunity to learn abbreviations relevant to the medical field and unique symbols to develop a personalized note-taking style.  Best of all, you’ll have clear steps on how to develop your own note-taking style and maximize your own memory capacity through guided exercises.

If you can’t attend the 2015 TAHIT Symposium, or you’re eager to get a start on learning more about note-taking for interpreters, here are a couple of helpful references for the meantime:

  • Gillies, Andrew. Note-taking for consecutive interpreting: A short course (Translation practices explained). St. Jerome. 2005
  • Mikkelson, Holly. Consecutive Interpretation and Note Taking. Acebo. 2006

Andrew Jerger is an experienced interpreter and instructor and is a primary instructor for medical interpretation at Cross Cultural Communication Systems, Inc. Mr. Jerger spent 11 years in the Dominican Republic, teaching public speaking courses in Spanish, English language classes and Spanish reading and writing classes.  After successfully completing the Art of Medical Interpretation course by Cross Cultural Communication Institute (CCCI) at Cross Cultural Communication Systems, Inc. TM (54 hour certificate of accomplishment by CCCS, Inc. TM) he went on to become a Language Coach before joining the CCCI faculty in 2009.  He has since received the credentials of CHI TM & CMI in the Spanish language.

Article prepared by Zarita Araujo-Lane, Amy Lau & Andrew Jerger

Will you be attending the 9th Annual TAHIT Educational Symposium September 25 & 26, 2015 in Galveston, Texas? Be sure to attend Andrew's presentation Note-Taking Skills for Interpreters!