Top tips for working with interpreters

1)  Meet with the interpreter beforehand

• Clarify unique vocabulary, technical terms, acronyms, jargon, seating arrangements, lighting and other needs.

• Provide interpreter with any written materials ahead of time (either on-site or to our agency).

2)  Sit directly across from your client

• Interpreter should be seated slightly back and to the side of the client.

3)  Speak directly to the other party, not the interpreter

• Ask the individual needing the interpreting (directly) if they are following the conversation.

4)  Speak naturally but be aware of the need to slow down

• Speak at your normal pace. Interpreters will ask you to slow down or repeat if necessary.

• Interpreters listen for concepts and ideas, not just words, to render an accurate interpretation.

5)  One person should speak at a time

• An interpreter can only accommodate one speaker at a time. Encourage the participants to follow this rule.

• If you are facilitating a group discussion, be aware that the interpreter will be several seconds behind. Pause before recognizing the next speaker to allow the interpreter to finish with the current speaker.

6)  Avoid private conversations – everything will be interpreted

• Whatever the interpreter hears will be interpreted. Do not ask the interpreter to censor any portion of the conversation.

7)  Avoid asking the interpreter for opinions or comments regarding the content of the meeting

• Interpreters follow a code of ethics which requires impartiality and confidentiality concerning all assignment related information.

• Do not assume the interpreter has prior knowledge of the client or will be interpreting future appointments.

8)  Provide a short break every hour (about 10 mins)

• Interpreting is mentally and physically taxing.

• Do not expect the interpreter to interpret during these breaks.

9)  Family members do not make appropriate interpreters

• Because their relationship to the clients, family members tend to add or omit part of the message, give their personal opinion, and make side conversations that exclude one party.

• Interpreters listen for concepts and ideas, not just words, to render an accurate interpretation.

10)  Conferences and lectures may require two interpreters

• Interpreters may make additional suggestions to help the interpreting appointment go well.