Author Interview: Andrew Gillies

We caught up with Andrew Gillies to discuss his book, Note-taking for Consecutive Interpreting: A Short Course, 2nd Edition. Read on for our exclusive interview with Andrew.

Andy Gillies is a freelance conference interpreter and working from French, German and Polish into English at a number of EU and European institutions as well as for private clients. Before training as an interpreter he trained and worked as a teacher of English as a foreign language. With that background interpreter training was a natural next step, followed by training of interpreter trainers and eventually writing books for student interpreters.

Andrew Gillies trained in, and taught English as a foreign language in London, Cracow and Cologne between 1994-6 before studying conference interpreting.

In 1996 he started working as a freelance interpreter at the EU institutions in Luxembourg and is currently based in Paris, working for the European Parliament, the European Patent Office and the European Space Agency as well as for other non-institutional customers.

He began teaching conference interpreting in 1999 and since has taught at the interpreting schools at the universities of Łódź, WLS Warsaw, UJ Cracow, UAM Poznan, FHK Cologne, ISIT Paris & EMCI Lisbon as well as training staff & freelance interpreters at the European Parliament. He also offers further training and training of trainers courses for AIIC (the International Association of Conference Interpreters).

His books came about to fill what seemed to be big gaps in the conference interpreting literature market - starting with the English translation of Rozan's 'La prise de notes...' before writing his own material.



Conference Interpreting - A students' practice book (Routledge, London, 2014)

Note-taking for Consecutive Interpreting (St Jerome, Manchester, 2005)

Conference Interpreting - A New Students’ Companion (Tertium, Cracow, 2005)

Note-taking in Consecutive Interpretation, J-F. Rozan, Editor and translator of English translation (Tertium, Cracow, 2003)

Conference Interpreting - A Students’ Companion (Tertium, Cracow, 2001)


Using Language Teaching Methods to Train Interpretersin Proceedings of the Bath Symposium (p118-131), Ed.s Pellat and Minelli (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2008)

Motivation in Conference Interpreter Training (in French) (Tranversalités, ISIT, April 2007)

On the application of contemporary teaching methodology in the training of conference interpreters (in Polish), in Język trzeciego tysiąclecia III. (Tertium, Cracow, 2002)


Creator/Administrator Interpreter Training Resources website:

Articles and films published online can be found on his  Featured Authors page

What is consecutive interpreting?

Consecutive interpreting involves listening to what someone has to say and then, when they have finished, reproducing the same message in another language. The only equipment required is a note-pad and pen so it is a versatile mode of interpreting. Consecutive also offers a face-to-face interaction with both speaker and audience - so it can be quite daunting. To interpret a speech, which might last anything between 1 and 10 minutes, the interpreter will rely on a combination of notes, memory and their general knowledge.

When is consecutive interpreting used?

(Simultaneous interpreting has over taken consecutive as the preferred mode of interpreting at international conferences because of the availability of equipment and the larger number of languages now used. However) consecutive is still commonly used for ceremonial events of all sorts, delegation visits, bilateral meetings, legal depositions, guided visits, and in court and community interpreting.

It is also considered a useful pedagogical tool in interpreter training and is mostly taught before simultaneous. Consecutive is also a prerequisite for graduation from post-graduate MA courses in Conference Interpreting and many institutional accreditation tests.    

Now in its 2nd edition, how has Note Taking for Consecutive Interpreting been updated?

I've taught for another 10 years since the 1st edition was published, so I've been able to finetune a few areas of the book. For example...

- the chapter on analysis has been changed to include only types of speech analysis that impact directly on note-taking. That now includes things like mind-maps and section diagrams.
- all of the example speeches and associated notes have been updated (including English language speakers from around the globe.)
- there are 2 new chapters: one on how to best note the comparisons that speakers so often make and an additional chapter on links (including implicit and temporal links).
- I've included a summary of other authors' guidelines for note-taking. Many of these works are out of print, so it's a useful reference. It's also interesting to see how much different authors have in common.
- elsewhere there other useful edits and additions that I hope will make the book even more useful.

Surely practice is the best way to improve your interpreting skills. Or are there other ways you can master these skills?

The best way to master these skills - over and above enrolling in a full-time course - is to practice regularly and in a structured, targetted manner. However interpreting is not the only way to practise these skills and indeed, because interpreting involves so many skills, it is useful to isolate component skills and practise the sub-skills alone. This is what I recommend for note-taking in the book, for example, by taken notes from the written word first (where there is not the same time-pressure on you as with the spoken word).

ProZcom article
Conference Interpreting: A Student's Practice Book

(You can find other articles and films I've published on my Routledge author's page

Which are your favourite online resources for helping with consecutive interpreting?

Interpreter Training Resources
A Word in Ear

If you could give just 3 top tips on consecutive interpreting, what would then be?

1. Learn to break speeches down into chunks (analysis)
2. Learn to summarize (and therefore also distinguish between what is more or less important in the message)
3. Have a consistent and automized note-taking system

About the book

How Shakespeare Became Colonial: Editorial Tradition and the British Empire

Note-taking for Consecutive Interpreting

A Short Course, 2nd Edition

by Andrew Gillies

Note-taking for Consecutive Interpreting: A Short Course is the essential step-by-step guide to the skill of note-taking. The system, made up of a range of tried and tested techniques, is simple to learn, consistent and efficient. Each chapter presents a technique, with examples, tasks and exercises.

Format – 2017-05-02 

Unediting the Renaissance: Shakespeare, Marlowe and Milton

Conference Interpreting

A Student’s Practice Book

by Andrew Gillies

Conference Interpreting: A Student’s Practice Book brings together a comprehensive compilation of tried and tested practical exercises which hone the sub-skills that make up successful conference interpreting.

Format – 2013-05-14