Understanding a language and speaking it are different ball games altogether. The difference between the two depends on how an interpreter classifies his or her working languages to a large extent. A good conference interpreter not only has expertise in speaking his or her mother tongue fluently, they are also able to understand one or multiple other foreign languages as well as the underlying culture. But it is possible that they may not have fluency in speaking these other languages that well.
There are times when some people have a feeling that they are having trouble with finding the correct phrase or word for expressing themselves well. The same can be even tougher if it is a foreign language. It is extremely crucial for a professional interpreter to know and express the right word or phrase on all occasions though they may be under stress.
How To Classify The Working Languages?
A good conference interpreter should be able to translate messages in one language to the target language quite fast; especially in cases of simultaneous interpretation this has to be very quick. These interpreters should be able to understand fast, think fast and of course, speak the language fluently.
It is natural to find that interpreters are more fluent in some languages as compared to others. Active languages refer to those languages where they are more fluent. On the other hand, those languages an interpreter can understand well but can it speak very fluently are referred to as passive languages.