Think aloud protocols: Viable for teaching, learning, and professional development in interpreting


  • Amanda Smith Western Oregon University


think aloud protocol, signed language interpretation, reflective practice, assessment' teaching


Interpretations  are as unique as the professionals who produce them. That being the
case, how do we find out what factors contribute to choices made in an interpretation, particularly when a majority of the work tasks involved in the interpreting process occur, unobservable, in the brain of the practitioner. Think Aloud Protocols (TAP) provide a means for gaining access to the inner workings of interpreting practitioners. TAPs have been used in researching translation between two written languages but applying the research method to signed language interpreters has required a bit of adaptation as performing a TAP during simultaneous, or even consecutive, work is cumbersome to near impossible. In studying the inner workings of signed language interpreters, TAPs can be used effectively to access the thinking during preparation for the task of simultaneous interpreting and then again in accessing the thoughts in reviewing the simultaneous work just produced. The use of TAPs are effective in informing many aspects of interpreting work that have long been hidden from inspection, including, but not limited to: decision-making process, facts that influence translation choices in the  moment, and monitoring & correction strategies. TAPs, with modifications, are just as viable for accessing the inner workings of interpreters working in real time, simultaneously or consecutively as for use with translator's work.