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A Guide to Successful Interpreting Encounters

Interpreters play a crucial role in breaking down language barriers and facilitating effective communication in a variety of settings. Whether you’re a seasoned interpreter or someone seeking the services of an interpreter, understanding the dynamics of interpretation can significantly enhance the overall experience. Let’s explore some tips for interpreters and those working with them!

Subject Matter Experts:

  • For interpreters: Proficiency in both the source and target languages is essential. Stay updated on idiomatic expressions, slang and cultural nuances to ensure accurate and nuanced interpretation.
  • For users: Provide interpreters with background materials and context to help them prepare for the specific subject matter. The more information they have, the better they can convey the intended message.

Neutral & Objective:

  • For interpreters: Speak in the first person and ensure that every word is conveyed accurately and without bias. Maintain neutrality and avoid offering advice or opinions during interpretation.
  • For users: Communicate your expectations regarding the interpreter acting as the voice of the LEP individual. Emphasize the importance of accuracy and neutrality.

Active Listening:

  • For interpreters: Sharpen your ability to listen actively and process information quickly. This includes understanding the words spoken but also grasping the speaker’s tone, intent and emotions.
  • For users: Speak clearly, at a moderate pace, and allow pauses for the interpreter to convey the message accurately. Be patient and understanding, especially when working with simultaneous interpreters who may need a brief delay to catch up.

Cultural Competence:

  • For interpreters: Cultivate an understanding of diverse cultures to navigate potential challenges related to cultural differences. This includes awareness of non-verbal cues, etiquette and cultural sensitivities. Intervene when necessary to clarify cultural barriers.
  • For users: Provide interpreters with cultural background information when applicable. This can be crucial in situations where cultural nuances significantly impact the communication process.


  • For interpreters: Familiarize yourself with the latest interpretation tools and software for remote interpretation services.
  • For users: Explore the use of technology to facilitate interpretation. Ensure that both parties are comfortable with the chosen technology and that it meets security and privacy standards.


  • For interpreters: Be a reliable partner and voice for the Limited English Community. Aim for continuity by consistently offering your services. Prioritize confidentiality and accuracy, fostering trust with those you assist for effective communication.
  • For users: Remember, the interpreter acts as your partner and voice in serving the Limited English Community. When possible, use the same interpreter to enhance continuity of service. Trust in the interpreter’s commitment to maintaining confidentiality and conveying the message accurately.

Effective interpretation is a collaborative effort between interpreters and those relying on their services. By following these tips, interpreters can enhance their skills, and users can ensure a smoother and more successful communication experience.