Master the Technique of Note-taking

Master the Technique of Note-taking


Workshop Leader: Mazen Alfarhan
Workshop Schedule Date: 06 February 22 - 10 February 22
Workshop Schedule Time: 4:00 - 7:00 pm
Duration: 3 hours
Venue: Penrose House (LAS) Building - Classroom A015

About the Workshop


Although Simultaneous Interpreting has prevailed in recent years, Consecutive Interpreting service continues to play an important role. In terms of business interaction, it is ideal for last minute meetings, court hearings/depositions, interviews, and medical consultations, and does not require any professional equipment. Many even consider it to be much more reliable than other forms of interpreting, as your interpreter is sitting with you. This allows them to notice any nuances in body language, and relay that within the translation. As such, Consecutive Interpreting offers the advantage of being more conversational, with each party given an equal opportunity to listen and understand, and speak and respond. In terms of the education and training of interpreters, Consecutive Interpreting remains an integral component of most undergraduate and postgraduate interpreting programs.

Typically, when the speaker finishes their speech/remarks, or has a break in their speech, the interpreter reproduces the statement in the target language as a whole and in such a manner as if they delivered it. To store the contents of the speech/remarks, consecutive interpreters use a special system of notes, consisting of symbols representing words – keys and characters such as: consistency, negation, emphasis, entailment, etc. In this system, the interpreter is not to memorize words, but to recreate the meaning of the information from the speaker. To deliver a complete message adequately, the interpreter needs to master this system.

This workshop exposes participants to the practice of writing down pieces of information in a systematic way. And since note-taking involves certain cognitive behavior, participants will be incentivized to engage their brains in specific ways for them to grasp and retain information. They will learn how to strike a balance between recording their notes, on the one hand, and processing the information and making connections between ideas on the other.



The workshop consists of the following:

  • Introductory presentation;
  • Baby steps to note-taking;
  • Live exercise (by trainer);
  • Step-by-step guide to note-taking;
  • Live exercise(s) (by trainer);
  • Active listening exercises (audio and/or video texts);
  • Short group practice exercises
  • Group notes vs trainer notes
  • Conclusion and recommendations  


  • Stage 1: After being introduced to the skill of note-taking and the steps involved, participants will listen to multiple simple straightforward audio/video texts to evaluate their short-term memory skills, then analyze the information and transfer it into the target language.
  • Stage 2: The trainer will conduct one live note-taking exercise. The exercise will be tantamount to step-by-step guide to the skill of note-taking.
  • Stage 3: This is the cognition stage where participants start exercising: Listening Phase {listening – memory (working memory) – note-taking}; Reformulation Phase {note-reading – memory (long-term memory) – Target language production}.
  • Stage 4: Group notes vs trainer notes + conclusions and recommendations. 

Learning Objectives:

  1. Build/develop the participants’ skills in note-taking
  2. Introduce participants to consecutive interpreting via note taking;
  3. Conduct live consecutive interpreting exercises using a variety of texts
  4. Conduct short memory boosting exercises. 

Learning Outcomes:

  1. To learn about essentials of the note taking technique;
  2. To raise awareness and exposure to the consecutive interpreting environment;
  3. To acquire fairly advanced consecutive interpreting techniques;
  4. To take part in consecutive interpreting exercises with a variety of accents;
  5. To start using note-taking in consecutive interpreting;  
  6. To acquire strategies to develop short term memory and information processing.

Target Participants

This workshop is recommended for translation students and translators/interpreters, whether beginners or professionals. Bilingual social services workers in charge of language services can also benefit from this workshop. The maximum capacity is 20 participants.


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About the Leader/Instructor
Mazen Alfarhan

 Alfarhan has two decades of successful experience in translation and interpreting, both in a professional capacity and as a trainer. As a professional, he has interpreted at over 200 events and for several world leaders, including Kofi Annan, Mahatir Mohammad, Pervez Musharraf, Romano Brodi, Kamal Kharazi, Javier Solana, and Sergio de Mello, while in his role as a trainer he led 23 training workshops and webinars between 2013 and 2021. As a lecturer, he has taught translation (BA level, 2002-8) and conference interpreting (MA level, 2009-13).

He has two MA degrees (Diplomacy, SOAS, 2005; Translation & Interpreting, Heriot-Watt, 2001), a graduate diploma (Arabization, Damascus, 2000) and a BA degree (English, Damascus, 1999). He also regularly attends CPD courses, including Train the Trainers of Interpreting Studies (London Met. Uni.), Legal Translation (Geneva Uni.), and Interpreting Techniques (Saint Joseph Uni.). 

He is a regular guest on Qatar Radio and Qatar TV, where he continues to raise awareness on translation/interpreting issues. He also publishes on the topic in local newspapers. He has received three Professional Excellence awards from Qatar Foundation and won the Best Translation Poster 2017 (HBKU) for his translation of a healthcare interpreting manual, published by Geneva University Hospitals in 2016. He also won a Chevening scholarship (2004-5) and a Said scholarship (2000-1). 


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