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General Interpreting Skill Development:

Improving Processing Skills

This guide enhances general interpreting skills by providing a structure to improve mental operations associated with understanding the narrative to be interpreted. Resources are provided below. Use this guide in conjunction with the Memory Skill guide.

Enhanced memory skills will enable you to use more time to think about information you need to interpret. Increasing your general critical thinking and analysis skills will enhance processing skills. 

The following activities are designed to enhance general critical thinking and analysis skills. 


  • Take a foundation course that teaches skills related to the various cognitive steps associated with the interpreting process. 

  • Purchase activity workbooks that offer a variety of activities to enhance critical thinking skills. 


NOTE: These resources were last updated March 2021.

  • Free Online Materials

    New Dimensions in Interpreter Education by the Conference of Interpreter Trainers 

    This proceedings of the 1986 National Convention of the Conference of Interpreter Trainers contains a variety of papers addressing how to teach processing skills.

    Curriculum and Instruction, edited by Marina McIntire, includes articles addressing short and long-term memory exercises, text analysis exercises, dual-tasking exercises, critical thinking and analysis skills, and other related tasks.

    The Keys to Highly Effective Interpreter Training by the Conference of Interpreter Trainers

    The proceedings of the 1998 National Convention of the Conference of Interpreter Trainers, edited by Joseph Alveraz, includes several papers relating to pre-interpreting, process, and foundation skills. These papers detail a variety of activities that can be used to introduce and practice processing skills.

  • 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.

    A Whack on the Side of the Head by Roger von Oech and published by World Games, Inc., NYC, NY. 

    This text is designed to increase your innovative thinking and opens your mind to new ways of thinking by breaking down mental locks. This is a best-selling book that is filled with lots of provocative puzzles, anecdotes, exercises, stories, and ideas for increasing your ability to engage in critical thinking.

    2008 paperback ISBN 9780446404662

    Foundations of Interpreting Seminar Series by the Bilingual Mediation Center

    This organization offers various introductory courses across the United States and online.

    Participation in these foundation courses would provide an opportunity to learn, practice and begin the process of mastering the requisite skills.

    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

    The Theory and Practice of Translation by Eugene Nida and Charles Taber published by E.J. Brill, Leiden, the Netherlands.  

    This text focuses on the process of written language translation. However, there are a variety of exercises that are applicable to interpreters striving to generate processed interpretations and/or transliterations. Of particular value is the chapter that discusses grammatical analysis, which focuses on an approach to text analysis that enhances understanding of the assumptions and inferences associated with a text.

    1969 hardcover ISBN 9789004065505

    Word Play by Peter Farb published by Books, Inc, NY, NY.  

    This is a popular description of what language is, and how it fits into society. The author uses humor and a dynamic writing style to provide insight into different cultures and language communities.

    1993 paperback ISBN 9780679734086

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

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