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Tour-guide interpreting is an extremely versatile interpreting technique that can be used in situations when traditional interpreting booths simply aren’t an option.

Efficient, versatile but above all cheap and easy to use, tour-guide interpreting is one of the new frontiers of interpreting.

bidule interpreting

What is tour-guide interpreting?

Tour-guide interpreting essentially means interpreting through an earpiece. This interpreting system can be used in many different situations, simply by using a cheap, lightweight device that is extremely easy to use.

 It’s also worth noting that the tour-guide system can be used with simultaneous or consecutive interpreting.

How does tour-guide technology work?

Tour-guide systems comprise two different electronic elements:

  • a radio transmitter
  • a series of receivers

Transmitters and receivers must operate on the same frequency for the system to work and transmission to take place.

The transmitter is connected to a microphone that interpreters use to translate the words spoken by a speaker into another language. The audience listens to the translation using headphones.

When might a tour-guide interpreting system be necessary?

Tour-guide technology is often used in situations (conferences, museums, etc.) where simultaneous translation cannot be done using an interpreting booth.

Tour-guide technology is perfect when providing simultaneous interpreting to small groups of listeners, as well as at conferences, outdoor events, or in places where noise pollution tends to muffle the interpreter’s voice, making it difficult to hear the translation.

With tour-guide technology, the interpreter’s voice is channelled straight into the ears of all listeners, be they in a museum, a cathedral, or walking down a busy street.

As you might have guessed, there are several advantages to the tour-guide system:

  • it is very easy to use and does not require specialised technicians (who are required to set up interpreting booths);
  • it is lightweight and can be easily transported;
  • the rental costs are very low compared to interpreting booths;
  • you can use multiple radio channels at the same time: different interpreters can speak into different microphones and have their voice transmitted to listeners who speak that particular language, using different radio channels.