Tips on Working with Interpreters

1.  Speak at a reasonable pace (not too fast) and speak clearly.

2.  Speak in short phrases and pause frequently so that the interpreter can convey the information quickly and accurately. If you go on for too long, you will have to wait a long time for the interpretation, and you run the risk that the interpreter will forget details and have to ask you to repeat.

3.  Look at the client or customer not at the interpreter and address the client or customer directly (e.g. “What is your name?” not “Ask him what his name is”).

4.  Speak ‘plain English’ and avoid jargon or ‘shoptalk’ that may be particular to your work.

5.  It is normal for interpreters to require clarification of unfamiliar terms occasionally. If your interpreter asks you to define a term, try to rephrase it in other words. The interpreter may have to ask the person to clarify terms as well, but will let you know
before addressing the person in the other language.

6.  Your interpreter will let you know if he or she has problems hearing you or the other party, who may be calling on a mobile phone or in a room with background noise.

7.  Remember that interpreted communication normally takes twice as long as communication in the same language. Please be patient.

8.  Ensure that you know what the arrangements are for booking interpreters in your organisation. (Do you know the numbers to contact? Do you need a reference number or budget code?)

(Thanks to Northumberland County Council for these tips)