Elicitation Tips

3. Be patient.

Have you ever had someone ask you the name of an actor in a famous movie, or the intersection for a restaurant you’ve only been to a couple times? It might be right on the tip of your tongue–you might be just about to get it out–but if they interrupt you, poof! There goes the name. If they had just been patient, they would have the information they wanted. The same principle applies during elicitation (except it’s even more important). Once you’ve asked your speaker a question, or given them a sentence to complete, or what have you, be patient. Sit quietly while your speaker thinks. If he or she asks you for more information, by all means answer–but until then (or some other appropriate time–use your judgment), keep quiet and let her or him think.

In the same vein, do not rush your speaker (or yourself, for that matter). Take some time at the beginning and end of the session to socialize, if appropriate, or at least to make sure that everyone is comfortable and ready. If you are on friendly terms with your consultant and it is appropriate, chatting (either in the contact language or the target language) can be very useful for helping the speaker feel comfortable and at ease.