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As a distinct profession in the modern world, oral language interpretation has a well-established place in the fields of diplomacy, business, healthcare and international conferencing. When confronted with a situation that involves your reliance on a professional face-to-face interpreter, there are a few things to keep in mind to ensure the session is valuable to both parties. A skilled live interpreter listens, grasps, and delivers a conversation to the recipient in their language, and vice versa. For this reason, it’s imperative that the interpreter you are working with is proficient in both your language and the language of the person you need to communicate with.
Here are a few helpful tips to keep in mind when you first meet with an oral interpreter:
1. Make sure the interpreter is competent
As mentioned above, understanding of the languages is one of the most crucial qualities an interpreter must possess. In addition to proficiency in language(s), make sure your interpreter is up to date on their certifications. For instance, if you’re in need of a face-to-face interpreter for legal services or a medical appointment, it is important that they’re well versed in terminology or vocabulary that allows them to effectively receive and deliver vital information.
Untrained interpreters often had little or no understanding of medical concepts or terminology and much less understanding of the importance of accuracy and completeness in the messages they conveyed. As a result, erroneous messages were often transmitted, new information added, or critical information omitted, drastically changing the nature of the original message.
2. Allow for enough time
Since there is a potential for a conversation through an interpreter to take twice as long, plan out a sufficient amount of time for the entire process. This will eliminate the need to rush, and will result in good quality that’s critical when working with an interpreter.
3. Listen Carefully and Speak clearly
Even though an interpreter may be trained to listen and comprehend what is said at a quick pace, it’s still important to listen carefully, speak clearly and slowly. If you are unclear, the interpreter will have to stop you to repeat what you say, delaying the translation process. Remember to pause after a thought is complete. If you’re in a group, make sure only one person speaks at a time.
4. Choose your words wisely
Professional interpreters are knowledgeable of social cues, idioms, and other cultural phrases. However, depending on the type of translation you need, such as in a healthcare setting, you’ll want to make sure you are using phrases that speak to the professionalism of the medical field you’re representing. With that being said, try your best to avoid complex sentences that contain heavy amounts of jargon. Use simple yet concise wording that will easily be translatable, making the process efficient and productive.
5. Don’t rely on the interpreter to respond for you
Even when the simplest questions are asked, don’t rely on the interpreter to assume your answer, or answer for you on your behalf. An oral interpreter has a neutral presence, and is not meant to be involved in the conversation other than the purpose of providing communication and understanding.
While an interpreter is delivering a translation to you, be careful not to interrupt. Listen to the entire string of sentences before responding. This will allow for the person you’re trying to communicate with to express their thought through the interpreter. This will prevent backtracking or re-explaining.
Some individuals may lean on family members or friends for communicating, but what happens when it’s imperative to relay medical, legal, or business information? It’s important that you are working with a professional live interpreter, as it’ll be the best way to avoid errors and misunderstandings. Whether for business, medical, or travel, United Translations offers 500 professional interpreters in over 150 languages, and are available 24/7. We offer both telephonic and on-location interpreters for any industry!