An Interpreter is an Invaluable Resource When Language Barriers Are Present:

Interacting with professional interpreters is a given in this day and age. Whether it be on-site interpretation, telephone interpretation or video remote interpreting (VRI), it’s important to take into account the best practices associated with communicating through an interpreter. The following is a breakdown of how to best communicate with limited English proficient (LEP) individuals through a professional interpreter.

  1. Introduce yourself to the interpreter as well as the LEP individual. Keep in mind you’re communicating with the LEP individual, even though the interpreter is speaking on your behalf, you should look at the LEP individual while speaking to them. The interpreter is there to facilitate communication and understanding, they are not who you’re having a conversation with. 
  2. Speak clearly while keeping a normal pace and tone. Oftentimes, when speaking through an interpreter, a person speaks super slow or louder than need be. Speaking clearly and at a normal pace creates understanding and eliminates the need for the interpreter to have to stop the interpretation session in order to clarify what is being said.
  3. During the interpretation session remember to speak in complete sentences. Don’t try to pack many concepts into a long speech or ask a bunch of questions for the interpreter to try and remember to convey to the LEP individual. Speak in short sentences and pause as to allow the interpreter time to convert the message into the LEP individuals native language. 
  4. Keep in mind whatever is said in front of the interpreter will be relayed back to the LEP individual. So if there is something you do not want said, avoid saying it out loud. Do not carry on side conversations with the interpreter. This could make the LEP individual feel left out, talked about or uncomfortable.
  5. Avoid making jokes, overdoing industry lingo or using idioms or slang when speaking to an LEP individual through an interpreter. Words most of the time do not have direct translations from one language into another, that stands true for cultural influences and nuances as well. 

These are a few helpful tips that will allow you to be more productive, clear and concise while engaged in an interpretation session. Being aware of the proper etiquette used while communicating through an interpreter will ensure a successful interaction despite the presence of a language barrier. 

Niki’s Int’l Ltd. is a WBENC-Certified Women Business Enterprise with 20 years of language service experience. A global network of highly skilled interpreters and translators are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for on-site, telephonic and video remote interpretation services. Our linguists are available in over 350 languages and dialects, and our network includes certified interpreters and translators. Our work is guaranteed with a $1 Million Errors & Omissions policy so that you can be confident that your project will be completed with the highest level of quality and professionalism within the field. For more information contact us at 1-877-567-8449 or visit our website at

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