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General Interpreting Skill Development:

Improving Memory Skills

This guide enhances general interpreting skills by providing activities to improve mental retention of a narrative. Resources are provided below. Use this guide in conjunction with the Processing Skill guide.


Closure, Critical Thinking, & Prediction Skills:

Purchase exercises from an educational supplies store used by teachers to enhance closure, critical thinking, & prediction skills.

These supply stores have workbooks that require the student to follow a series of visual and/or auditory directions, each task requiring recall of information from the previous task. These materials also include exercises in drawing conclusions, inference, and closure connections (where you try to figure out information that is missing from a text based on the context surrounding the missing information.  

These activities are useful in expanding your use of long-term and short-term memory functions.

Memory Skill Enhancement:

Borrow a variety of books related to memory skill enhancement from the public library.   

The most useful strategies related to memory enhancement are pegging, chaining, linking, and chunking techniques. 

Text Analysis:

  • Select an ASL or English text that is approximately 3-4 minutes in length.
  • Create an outline or mapping/webbing of the text that distinguishes the main ideas from the supporting detail.  
  • Retell the text in the same language as it originated using only the mapping or outline. 
  • Identify all the elements of the text that would require attention if you were to interpret the text into a different target language (for example, if the text originated in English, what would you need to consider if you were to put it into ASL).  
  • Re-map/web the text incorporating the special considerations.  
  • Retell the text in the target language.  
  • Interpret the text. Tape yourself interpreting the text and evaluate the amount of information that was omitted.  
  • Repeat the entire process with a variety of ASL and English texts.

Make sure to map/web the text from both the source and target language orientation before interpreting the text. The mapping process helps to peg information and to identify key words and concepts. This process enhances memory functions and recall.  

Increase the length of the texts as you become more comfortable with the process.

Text Recall:

  • Access recorded content (audiobooks, Podcast, YouTube videos, etc.). 
  • Listen to fifteen seconds of a program and then stop the recording. 
  • Write down the major concepts or words which occurred - in the order they occurred.  
  • Replay the 15 seconds of the program and check your accuracy.  
  • Repeat the process in 15 second intervals until you become comfortable with recalling the program’s content.  

Repeat the activity, increasing the time increments by 5 seconds up to 30 seconds. Do not jump from one length to the next until you are comfortable with the length you are working on. 

Once you have successfully worked up to 30 seconds, repeat the process of writing down key elements of a text WITHOUT stopping the tape. Do not start writing down key words or concepts until you are about 5 seconds into the text. Then, continue recording the information simultaneously while listening to the information. This activity will enhance/ increase your dual tasking abilities. 

Repeat the activity with ASL texts, only written down the key concepts versus writing down the information. Again, increase the length of the chunk of text you are working with, incrementally, by 5 seconds up to 30 seconds.


NOTE: These resources were last updated March 2021.

  • Free Online Materials

    ASL Storytime from the Department of Sign Language and Interpretation at Gallaudet University

    The series included three volumes, each containing stories with a broad variety of ASL features. The series is available on YouTube.

    TerpTalks from the National Consortium of Interpreter Education Centers (NCIEC)

    The series includes diverse ASL and English texts available for practice interpreting. The series is available on NCIEC's website. There is no charge for accessing these materials, although you may be required to register to access.

  • Purchasable Materials

    The following resources may be available for use from your local interpreter education program or through your public library. If the library does not have them, request that they purchase them for community use.

    Interpreter Practice Materials from Sign Media

    A set of 33 DVDs including 12 simultaneous texts, 12 consecutive texts, 7 one-to-one situations, 2 small groups, 6 ASL texts and 6 English texts.

    This resource is excellent for individual, study group, or classroom skill development exercises. 

    Mind Mapping by Michael Gelb and published by Nightingale-Conant, Niles, Illinois.

    This 12-part audiotape program teaches how to analyze and plan texts for meaning and how to map ideas for easy recall.

    1997 audiobook ISBN 9780671005597

    Mega Memory by Kevin Trudeau and published by Nightingale-Conant, Niles, Illinois.

    This book introduces about fourteen memory exercises that can help improve memory skills.  

    2005 book ISBN 0688153879

A PDF version of this guide is available - General Interpreting Skill Development: Improving Memory Skills

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