What is WISE?

WISE - Workshop for Interpreting Skills Exchange

By interpreters, for interpreters

Dates for the next WISE sessions in summer 2025 will be announced in February 2025 and applications will remain open until April 2025, set a reminder for yourself or follow us on social media for updates. 

WISE is a practice workshop for professional interpreters who may want to add to their already extensive booth experience by working on their professional skills.

The idea behind WISE took shape when a group of interpreters sought out opportunities to enhance their professional skills by practising simultaneous and consecutive over the summer downtime. The first sessions were held in 2013 and proved popular as a chance for professionals to hone their skillset in a hardworking yet relaxed atmosphere. As a WISE participant, you work on your skills such as retour or C > A with other professionals who will provide you with feedback on your consecutive and simultaneous.  Spending time with colleagues from all over Europe (and often from much further afield) means that you will hear about what it is like to work in different markets in a laid-back environment.  You will also take part in our special session where we discuss the state of the profession and how interpretation may evolve over time.

- What's the idea behind WISE?

The seminar operates on a mutually beneficial basis, relying upon the goodwill of those taking part. This means that as a participant, you will interpret the speeches of other colleagues while also receiving feedback from them. In return, you will give constructive feedback and helpful advice to others, as well as speeches in your native language.

- How much will it cost?

WISE is based on the goodwill of the interpreters taking part, meaning that nobody will be paid to give speeches or feedback. A fee of 280 euros covers administrative and other costs.

- What about accommodation, food and travel?

Participants arrange their own stay, including accommodation, meals and travel.

- What is an average day on the WISE practice seminar like?

Sessions are planned based on the number of participants, their languages and the rooms available. Participants take turns giving speeches, feedback and interpreting in both consecutive and simultaneous. A day at WISE sessions can be quite intense but we also have social and cultural events in the evenings: a good chance to get to know your fellow participants.

A typical WISE timetable
- Will WISE help me prepare for accreditation tests at institutions like the EU and the UN?

WISE sessions broadly mimic a lesson format and style common to many MA courses. Naturally, this will mean that the content and focus of the sessions will be well-suited to preparing oneself for an institutional test. Nevertheless, given that the content of the sessions is mainly to be determined by the participants themselves, the interpreters taking part will be able to tailor the seminar to the overall needs of the group. Specific sessions on certain topics or for certain institutional tests may be organised depending  on demand and on the will of the majority of participants.

- How will WISE be useful to me if I plan to work solely on the private market?

The skills developed at WISE are equally applicable to interpreting both at large institutions and on the private market, with each participant prioritising their own professional needs. For those who intend to work solely on the private market, WISE may represent a good opportunity to work on one's retour or B language, a prized asset in non-institutional settings. 

For interpreters aiming to work on an English retour, both WISE Valencia and WISE Brussels include retour sessions where interpreters receive feedback from a number of English native interpreters, an option which could be particularly appealing.

- How will WISE help me to progress in my career?

WISE is for working professionals who may not have received direct and honest feedback since studying interpreting at university. WISE vaguely models its session format on what might be found on an MA course, it is not a recognised qualification in any way and has no official links with the EMCI, EU or other institutions. Sessions will be led to a large degree by WISE participants themselves, meaning that the organisers can make no explicit claims about the quality of teaching. Participants should see WISE as an opportunity to practice, not as a professional leg up or as a means of gaining a qualification. 

For more information: wise.interpreting@gmail.com

Watch some of our videos to see WISE in action:

An interview for A Word in Your Ear:

You can also use our YouTube channel to practise with speeches in English, French, Spanish, Italian and German!

Original blog entry posted by Francesco Bazzanella in Italian on 22 July 2013. Click here to read it.

As announced previously on my blog, last week I got the chance to travel to Spain to take part in a new and interesting project: the WISE seminar, the name of which stands for Workshop for Interpreting Skills Exchange. The event was held at la Universidad Europea de Valencia, which kindly provided rooms equipped with booths so as to allow professional interpreters from around Europe to hone their skills together as a group while also getting to know each other, listening and giving feedback to one another.
The group was brimming with over 20 professional interpreters from Italy, France, Spain, the UK, Germany and elsewhere. However, these were actually just the participants’ countries of origin, since many of those attending live or work in other countries. This all meant that the event was a truly European and global experience.

The main aim of the seminar was to practise together to refresh and strengthen one’s own abilities, with some people setting themselves the target of an institutional test. With this in mind, a number of current or former Spanish booth interpreters from the EU or UN institutions attended a few of the sessions, offering interesting advice and information "from the inside", which was of great interest to all, especially those with a test date ahead.

As for the seminar itself, the programme was jam-packed, with simultaneous and consecutive sessions running from 9.30am to 18.30-19.30 throughout the week in a number of different languages.  With my three passive languages, I ended up taking part in almost all the sessions, partly because in the Italian sessions I had to give speeches or feedback to colleagues.

Nevertheless, there were of course a few hours of free time here and there, spent mainly down at the beach or visiting the city, with Valencia proving to be a wonderful place to roam around, with its many green parks and sights to visit. But as you might guess, for someone from the highlands of Trento, it was scorching hot. But given that it was no more than a week, I tried not to complain.
The experience was incredibly interesting and very constructive. Being able to receive feedback from a number of colleagues both passively (into Italian) and actively (into English) was a chance I highly valued, with interesting comments coming my way which will no doubt be a great aid in furthering my skills and boosting my self-confidence.
More importantly, having mother tongue English speakers tell you that your work into English was pleasant to listen to, correct and easy to understand…well, what can I say, not bad for the old self-confidence! Then, once the week was up, I found myself with plenty of notepads packed with new terms, ‘little tricks’, nuggets of advice and expressions which can now act as an impressive professional portfolio.
Then of course, there was all the networking and getting to know other European professionals, who were all very nice and great people. We went out for drinks, dinners and evenings out together and this created a great team spirit. It was a chance to chat about previous experiences and to get to know new aspects of the profession and of the lives of interpreters and translators from elsewhere around Europe…not to mention all the laughs that were had out on the town in Valencia!
So, the moral of the story: the seminar was certainly a wise choice and an experience that shouldn’t be missed…and indeed repeated, as may well be the case in coming years!
And how else could I draw this to a close but by wholeheartedly thanking the organisers, Jose Sentamans and Joe Burbidge, who at the time of writing are away running WISE London, steaming ahead with this great initiative.  Keep it up, guys!