The use of professional interpreters (in person, video remote interpreting or via telephone) is becoming increasingly more common.
More than 25 million Americans speak English “less than very well,” according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Professional interpreters are superior to the usual practice of using ad hoc interpreters (i.e., family, friends, or untrained staff). Untrained interpreters are more likely to make errors, violate confidentiality, and increase the risk of poor outcomes. Children should never be used as interpreters except in emergencies. In addition to acting as a conduit for the discussion, the interpreter may serve as a cultural liaison. When a professional interpreter is not available, phone interpretation services are great alternatives.
Multilingual staff members can interpret, based on their comfort levels, and should be encouraged to receive additional training in interpretation technique; fluency alone does not make them effective interpreters.
The use of untrained interpreters is the proverbial “broad path of least resistance,” resulting in many pitfalls. Ad hoc interpreters—usually friends or family—have multiple limitations. Do you know how effectively his or her message is being interpreted, which makes it easy to lose control of the conversation . Nonprofessional interpreters have not received training and may not be aware of the need for confidentiality. The use of nonprofessional interpreters increases the risk of nonequivalent interpretations, leading to possible misunderstandings.It is much easier to ask questions in another language than to understand the response. Overconfidence in one's language abilities can lead to serious errors and substandard outcomes.
When making arrangements with a professional interpreter, it is important for your staff to confidently relay why there is a need for the interpretation, who they will be interpreting for, the approximate amount of time needed and a quick explanation of your offices’ practices and procedures. Also, it is of utmost importance to relay to the interpreter that their services are limited to language interpretation, and not offering their personal opinions.
Is your staff equipped to adequately arrange for professional interpreters when needed
We can help develop an effective checklist for your interpreter needs.