Interpretation Skills: Importance, Examples, Strategies, & Real Life Applications

Last Updated on October 7, 2023 by Editorial Team

In case of a query, one may get multiple sources of information. What’s equally important is that individuals are able to interpret this information in the right way as determined by the author; also implicitly making out how this can be implemented in their scenario. Everyone should develop the ability to understand the information in the way the sender intended. 

This can be achieved with admirable interpretation skills. But, what exactly are interpretation skills? To answer all of these questions, we here come with a detailed guide to interpretation skills, strategies to improve it, and examples to make you clearly comprehend the essence behind it.

What are interpretation skills?

By definition, interpretation skills are the ability of an individual who can appropriately discover, determine, and discern the right meaning of the information. These texts can be of any form: documents, messages, charts, tables, graphs, etc. looking into it in detail, it is not only about comprehending the information, here are some other basic skills required to be a good interpreter:

  1. Perception – Perception is divided as the sensory function in our brain where the information that is received is organized and interpreted, and the way it leads to our actions leads to the information that is received. To ensure this trait, a supporting environment may also play an important role.
  2. Decoding- The decoding procedure is how the brain reads a collection of words or words separately. With decoding, we use our skills to interpret the written language and also the non-verbal gestures. Body language affects the way our brain processes information.  Here the usage of linguistics while interpreting also helps in assessing the information including the knowledge.
  3. Recording–  Recording is the act of the brain whereupon receiving the information the brain’s memory is stimulated in a way they can say out about the same later when asked. Here the interpreter’s memory plays a huge role where the comprehension comes into notice and is two-fold which is mental and written.
  4. Encoding– This is the method of re-establishing the decoded and recorded information in the brain. Accordingly, it is important for long-term memory retention. This comes after the above three procedures to store information in an efficient way.
  5. Listening skills- Interpretation skills are not only constrained to grasping information on paper but also properly understanding verbal lectures and other snippets of information. To ensure better interpretation skills, listening skills with language knowledge in three levels: grammar, syntactic, and contextual patterns are needed. There are several components in these skills like redundancy and active and passive listening. One needs to apply necessary traits when needed. 
  6. Emotional Quotient: To understand the piece of text, the learner needs to ensure better empathy to connect with the presentation. Being in the best emotional state possible helps in better interpretation.

Attributes of interpretation skills 

Comprehending the importance of Interpretation skills, let us here look into what attributes are needed to develop these abilities in individuals:

  1. By using the recording skill the brain is able to organize and record what is said and the right message is conveyed between the speaker and the interpreter with little to no mistake.
  2. Good knowledge of the language: An individual should have a gripping knowledge of the language- its grammar, and other traits; to make sure they comprehend appropriately.  
  3. Memory skills: A person should have a specific ability to record the content in their brain and simultaneously collect the same back when needed. For this one may need better memory skills. With focus, one can increase retention abilities. 
  4. Intuitive Skills– When the brain has got new information and has to interpret the information at that very moment gives the brain to be alert and gives the upper hand to be prepared in situations like these.  
  5. Neutrality– It is the ability of the interpreting person to avoid themselves to incline to either side while comprehending the information. Staying neutral can make them maintain a better attitude in the workspace thereby retaining healthy relationships.

Strategies to improve interpretation skills 

Opting for a style or strategy of the interpretation skill during learning or any other phase can bring about better results effortlessly. The strategies not only will help understand complex themes of long or short texts but also make out what comes next at higher levels. The concept of interpretation skills was addressed so that one can interpret the text or the information received in your own language and not have to consult a book or a person every time one needs to interpret.

Here are a few working strategies that can improve interpretation skills in an individual:

  • Making a habit of taking notes. The first step is grasping information, but retaining it for longer durations can be arduous. A habit of making short notes can be a good idea for not only documenting the ideas but also ensuring great writing practice. 
  • Form an easy style of remembering. Understanding and remembering the information traversed is important. The individual can opt for strategies like mnemonics, symbols, or easy figures to make information simple to remember. 
  • Understand the culture and intent of the information. Based on the context and scenario, the idea behind a piece of information may change. A learner before interpreting a text can make sure of the background of it to better understand the essence.
  • Make use of multisensory sources. If the information on a piece of paper is not enough, the learner may look into options like videos, images, or any other multisensory sources to get multiple insights into the same concepts. 
  • Try different types of interpretation styles. One may choose among multiple styles of interpretation to see which of these is fitting. Here, let us look into these styles in detail:
  1. Literal interpretation is basically asking to give the “who” and the “why” of the text. In this strategy of interpretation, the text is taken as it is and there is nothing metaphorical or symbolic about the text. 
  2. Symbolic Interpretations– Sometimes symbolic presentations speak better than visuals, inferring themes is an important tip for learners.
  3. The stylistic interpretation is where the text describes the setting, the background where it’s set, and how it will affect the situation in which the text is going ahead. 

Interpretation skills in real-life

As we have seen, Interpretation Skills are not specific to any one topic,  and these help in determining what the message is trying to imply. Let’s have a look at the interpretation skills that are used in real-life occupations and situations.

  1. Interpreter as a Diplomat: Diplomats are the people who represent their country abroad. Their duties are to ensure efficient communication with locals and interpret the information that they receive. They need good interpretation skills to perfectly retain what the authorities communicate to smoothen the relationships.
  2. Translator: Interpretation Skills can be used by translators while they translate the works of individuals from another language to a language the translator has knowledge of.
  3. Like a Radiologist: In departments like Radiology, the interpretation of information from tests, seniors, and also from peers at workstations is important. Sometimes, non-verbal gestures also need to be grasped appropriately to ensure no errors happen. This implies that the candidates and aspirants are obligated to have better interpretation skills. Research by Kevin E’ O Brain[1] showed that around 81 percent of people they experimented with marked that interpretation is important in radiology. 
  4. Students in the classroom: While the learners read textbooks and information from other resources, they interpret the information appropriately to put it on paper for tests.
  5. Data Analysis: Professionals like statisticians and other big data handlers not only focus on preparing the final drafts of the data but also interpret them to understand and comment on the trends, statistics, and other crucial information. 

Concluding thoughts

Interpreting a piece of text or document requires certain interpretation skills. These are employed not only in the classroom but also in other industries by professionals. It is important to understand that these skills are not only important for analyzing text information but also for verbal and non-verbal communication. The ability to interpret is often underestimated, but mastering these abilities can make a person strong in discerning information. 


  1. O’Brien, K. E., Cannarozzi, M. L., Torre, D. M., Mechaber, A. J., & Durning, S. J. (2008). Training and assessment of CXR/basic radiology interpretation skills: results from the 2005 CDIM Survey. Teaching and learning in medicine, 20(2), 157-162.

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