Last July I was finally able to attend a WISE workshop in the beautiful city of Valencia. Being a staunch believer in continuous practice in pedagogical environments, I had been looking forward to polishing up some skills in a relaxed environment that is well known for the high quality of the feedback provided.
When you sign up for a week-long workshop you probably have some things that you want to work on. I personally believe that before you go into a training session of any kind, you should have one or two goals in mind in order to make the most out of it. At the same time, you should stay humble and receptive to what your peers say.
In my case, I signed up with two very clear goals in mind:
- I wanted to brush up on my English retour.
- I wanted to get some pointers on my FR>ES combination.
Before you begin
Once your application has been accepted, you are requested to write 6 speeches in your A language, three for consecutive and three for simultaneous practice. The organizers send a document with excellent tips for writing a good speech, and with a good reminder of why writing speeches is good for you! In a nutshell, writing practice speeches helps your process and organize information, it increases your general knowledge, and helps you practice your public speaking skills when you get to deliver your speech for your peers.
Once you get there
The University is located in one of the most beautiful areas in Valencia, a sunny Mediterranean city with good food, reasonable prices and excellent public transportation.
The organizers, Jose Sentamans and Joe Burbidge will welcome you with thir dynamic personalities and give you sense of ease because every detail has been taken care of.
Let the practice begin!
You will start practicing and giving feedback from day one. The sessions are an hour and a half long and believe me, they are intense. Depending on the language combinations you signed up for, on a regular day you can have anywhere from one to three sessions, so it is a good idea to be well rested and fully available.
The balance between practicing, giving feedback and reading speeches is quite balanced throughout the week, although once again, depending on your combination, one of those activities might end up taking more time than the rest.
What makes WISE great
Joe and Jose have worked hard to make sure that the workshop runs like clockwork.
Practicing in a friendly environment where there are no real clients makes gives you a certain freedom to “go all out”. Thanks to this atmosphere I was able to experiment with language in a way I normally wouldn’t risk in the booth, and because you have constant feedback you quickly realize what works and what doesn’t.
The evening dinners. Being a freelance conference interpreter can be a lonely journey. It was great to meet with colleagues from Spain, Canada, Germany, Switzerland, Brussels and France and discuss issues such as quality, client education, or work-life balance while enjoying some excellent Spanish wine and food!
The quality of the feedback offered by your peers. When you get a group of highly trained and/or experienced interpreters you will definitely get good comments. I very much appreciated the general attitude of mutual help.
The price! Being on a budget and getting all of these benefits without ending up broke is definitely a plus.
Some final tips that went around
I talked to some of you about some of the strategies I‘ve used to either improve my B language (that do not imply packing and moving to a new country!), so here’s a recap:
- Read out loud – the amount of structures your brain will start to retain will amaze you, just be mindful when you do it and decide whether you are reading to practice your production, your vocabulary, or something else.
- TedTalks: They are particularly useful if you are working on your retour into EN because you can listen and read at the same time. Some of them have transcripts and good subtitles. My recommendation is to memorize little bits of a talk/speaker you like and to add on to it. Copy everything they do: volume, intonation, pauses. Not only will you be improving your use of English, but also your vocal variety and pronunciation. Your memory will also get its vitamins!
- I mentioned InterpretimeBank to some of you given the importance of deliberate practicing year round. For the time being, Interpretimebank is a G+ Community that you can join to find people to continue practicing. It does not replace live practice, but it certainly sorts out the problem of time and space. Through this platform you can be listened by another professional interpreter, and it also gives you the opportunity to meet people all over the world, year round.
To read more about WISE, you can visit: