Interpreters Provide a Vital Service:

Breaking down cultural and linguistic barriers to facilitate communication between individuals who do not speak the same language is the honorable and skilled work of a professional interpreter. It takes a great deal of talent and artistry in order to interpret one language into another quickly, accurately and without hesitation. The work is mentally draining and not only takes dexterity, but it demands the interpreter keep their personal opinions, thoughts, emotions and input to themselves. Individuals who work as interpreters can be described as silent integral voices, without them, there would be no possible form of communication or comprehension amongst people who do not speak the same language. It is critical for an interpreter to keep their composure and assessments to themselves, in all actuality this is not their conversation to be had, they are there for one reason only, and that is to provide a valuable service that allows the flow of communication when a language barrier is present.

The diverse and globalized world we live in has made the demand for interpretation services grow rapidly, more and more we’re seeing the everyday incorporation of language services in business, facilities and organizations spanning across all industries. With demand of the service so high, it’s important that individuals utilizing interpretation services be well educated on how to interact with interpreters in order to get the best return on their investment. The work of interpretation is difficult and tedious, there are things we can avoid in order to ensure that the experience run smoothly. In, “Tips For Optimizing Your Interpretation Experience,” we discussed the best practices to follow in order for you, the interpreter and the limited English Proficient (LEP) individual to receive the best possible outcome, now let’s discuss the things to avoid when working with an interpreter.

Things to Avoid When Working with an Interpreter:

  • Please do not refer to the client or patient in the third person, speak directly to the individual just as you would if there were no language barrier. Avoid saying things like, “Tell her” and “Explain to him.”
  • Never substitute a family member, child or bilingual staff member for a professional interpreter. Accurate and effective communicate can only be facilitated when professional interpretation services are utilized. Using an unqualified individual as an interpreter can lead to a plethora of negative outcomes; leave interpretation to the professionals.
  • Do not hold the interpreter responsible for what the patient or client says or doesn’t say, they are only there to bridge language gaps. The interpreter is the medium, not the source, of the message, don’t shoot the messenger, they’re only doing their job.
  • Be aware that the interpreter must interpret everything said during the interpretation session. If you do not want something interpreted, avoid discussing the subject.
  • If you feel that you’re not getting the response you were expecting, restate the question or consult with the interpreter to better understand if there is a linguistic or cultural barrier that is interfering with communication.
  • Speak in your normal tone and pace, there is no need to speak super slow or loud, the interpreter is a trained professional, they have the ability to keep up.
  • Enunciate your words and try to avoid contractions, which can be easily misunderstood as the opposite of your meaning, for example, “can’t – cannot.”
  • Pause frequently to allow the interpreter time to interpret what’s being said, you can also occasionally ask the interpreter if he or she is ok, to ensure everyone is on the same page.
  • Avoid oversimplification of important explanations.
  • Provide brief explanations of technical terminology if needed.
  • Don’t make assumptions about the patient’s or client’s education level. An inability to speak English does not constitute a lack of education.
  • Be aware of nonverbal body language and gestures that may be offensive to the family’s culture or religion.
  • Avoid interrupting the interpreter. Many concepts expressed in one language have no linguistic, or conceptual equivalent in other languages. The interpreter may have to paint a picture of many terms you use in order for the LEP individual to understand. This may take longer than your original speech, so give the interpreter adequate time to convey the message.
  • Use complete sentences and ideas.
  • Avoid the use of double negatives.
  • Do not use slang while you’re communicating through an interpreter.
  • Avoid puns and humor based on wordplay, it usually won’t translate well and your punchline will fall short.
  • Avoid using colloquialisms and acronyms, if you must, please explain their meaning to the interpreter to ensure they understand what you’re trying to say.
  • Try your best to avoid the use of industry jargon, acronyms, or difficult terminology.
  • Jokes are an interpreter’s worst nightmare, most jokes are overflowing with cultural nuances and local customs, regional expressions and historical events, it is almost impossible to interpret a joke from one language into another with it making sense and everyone understanding the humor in it. Avoid jokes at all costs, most likely they will not be funny or understood…
  • Idioms are another form of language that is almost impossible to interpret into another language with it making sense. For example in German, “Att glida in på en räkmacka,” directly translated means, “To slide in on a shrimp sandwich.” The idiom refers to somebody who didn’t have to work to get where they are, however this concept and choice of words will definitely not be understood in any language other than German.

Providing professional interpretation services is vital in ensuring clear and effective communication is facilitated. It’s important you understand your patients or clients and they understand you. Enlisting the aid of a translation company in order to receive interpretation services is the only way to feel comfortable in the fact that everyone involved is on the same page and understands the situation and conversation at hand. It is easy to successfully accomplish an interpretation session by following the list of things to do listed in, “Tips For Optimizing Your Interpretation Experience,” and by avoiding the list of things not do in the list provide above. Niki’s Int’l Ltd. is a translation company who has access to a network of interpreters who are trained, capable and experienced in providing the highest quality of accuracy and professionalism in the field. Allow them to extend that professionalism to accommodate your interactions with LEP patients or clients.

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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