Not every student can and wants to become an interpreter. It is based on individual personality traits, motivation and abilities, but it is also related to the quality
of education, the influence of teachers and other role models. Last but not least,
market demands also determine the employability of the interpreter in his/her
profession, and other times, coincidental life events may play a crucial role.
The monograph looks at the academic training of future interpreters through
the prism of the interdisciplinary empirical research findings in the field of cognitive functions and personality traits and abilities. We attempted to interpret the
presented conclusions in the context of their significance for interpreting training
or rather training of future interpreters for their profession, but also in the context
of student personality shaping in general.
In the structure of cognitive skills and personality, there are some aspects that
can be relatively well shaped in the educational process. Others, on the other
hand, are relatively stable and resistant to the process of education and selfeducation. To determine the extent to which the selected aspects can be influenced
by training, it is necessary to identify and characterize the various levels of the
cognitive processes and personality structure. In the monograph, we focused on
cognitive skills, cognitive style, character traits, motivational structure and personality skills that are applied in the interpreting process.
Cognitive skills can be understood as partial cognitive mechanisms controlled
by the central executive of working memory (or activated long-term memory).
Similarly to the existence of capacity and time limits related to working memory,
the mental energy we have as interpreters is also limited (Gile 1995). And since
we often work at the limit of saturation of this mental energy in the interpreting
process, it is crucial to effectively regulate limited cognitive resources so that interpreting performance does not deteriorate.
Research suggests that the automation of partial processes relieves mental capacity since automated processes (as procedural memory) do not require intense
attention. Simultaneity as a parallel realization of cognitive and linguistic processes can be largely automated and is applied in both basic modes of interpreting. However, compared to simultaneous interpreting, processes related to the
ability to abstract, the ability to understand more complex contexts, the ability to
organize and structure information in long-term memory and their efficient recalling are to a larger extent applied in consecutive interpreting. In simultaneous
interpreting, the ability to react quickly and promptly and flexibility in regulating the fluctuation range of attention under conditions of cognitive and linguistic
processes taking place parallelly are likely to be applied to a larger extent than in
The basic cognitive equipment of interpreting students (i.e. cognitive skills and
mental abilities) undoubtedly affects the effectiveness of training and the related
interpreting performance. However, many of these skills and abilities, e.g. working memory coordination processes, mental flexibility or perceptual speed, or
even fluid intelligence, can be developed during training (Macnamara & Conway
At the same time, however, there are mechanisms that are key to interpreting, but are more resistant to training in terms of academic training lasting several semesters. One of them is, for example, the ability to deal with interference
and disturbing elements. In this case, it is a characteristic that may be related to
the cognitive style of the individual, representing field dependence/independence as a component of the personality responsible for the overall organization of
information (Nakonečný 1997). The cognitive style of impulsivity/reflexivity is
probably to some extent related to décalage and error rate in interpreting.
Speech production, less prone to interference losses, is also likely to be part of
the interpreter’s expertise (Moser-Mercer 2000), which he/she acquires by overcoming automation (Ericsson 2000) during long-term, systematic and intensive
Interpreting performance, but also the speed and efficiency of acquiring and
developing skills and abilities during training are influenced by both internal and
external factors. Important internal determinants of performance are, among other things, motivational aspects of personality (performance motive, orientation
of motivation), physical and mental predispositions. In relation to motivation, it
seems that an increased level of motivation (performance motive) is needed to
mobilize performance-oriented forces. At the same time, it is an important finding that the advantage belongs to those interpreters or students who experience
anxiety in a particular interpreting task (state anxiety), but do not suffer from
high trait anxiety, or individuals who are anxious but master effective strategies
for managing this anxiety in the interpreting process (Kurz 1996, Hodáková 2020).
External determinants include environmental and social impacts (e.g. training
quality). An appropriate combination of all these influences can subsequently
relatively reliably predict the readiness of students for the interpreter profession.
In the monograph, we also dealt with stress factors that affect professional
interpreters and interpreting students. And although the nature and intensity
of stressful situations are quite different in these two groups, for the long-term
successful performance of the interpreter profession but also overall satisfaction
in the professional and private life, it is important to master coping strategies
and principles of mental hygiene. In our opinion, the academic training of future
interpreters can also offer room for such a comprehensive development of students’ personalities.
When reflecting the research findings in the training of interpreting students,
it is also important to address the question of whether and how the final thesis,
which is one of the prerequisites for successful completion of studies, can be useful for students preparing for the practical interpreting profession and not primarily for an academic career. In this context, it can be stated that in the conditions of
Slovak universities, there is a tradition of elaborating final theses on the topic of
interpreting. We also tried to integrate some interesting findings of student theses
into individual chapters of the monograph. Such theses provide students with the
opportunity to develop their thematic competence and broaden their competence
profile, which increases the chances of their employability on the market. At the
same time, taking part in the research in the role of participants can provide them
with effective feedback on their strengths and weaknesses and opportunities to
develop their own potential. Effective practical interpreting training based on
relevant research findings can also help them to a significant extent.
In all these cases, the teacher of interpreting can have a positive effect on students by his/her own practical experience with the interpreting profession (as
a role model), the ability to translate the conclusions of empirical research into the
didactic process (as a facilitator of cognitive and personal development), and last
but not least, by his/her own passion for research (as a leader).