How to Use an Interpreter Effectively
Before Meeting Recommendations
- Establish the interpreting technique that is most appropriate for the situation: simultaneous, consecutive or a combination of both.
- If there is information regarding the proceedings which could affect interpreters’ ability to effectively provide service, make them aware of it prior to the start of the meeting.
- If available, provide the interpreter with a draft of any documents to be discussed. This will allow the interpreter to view the information before the meeting and identify any unfamiliar terms.
During Meeting Recommendations
- Speak in first person and address comments to the parents, not to the interpreter.
- Pause after expressing each complete thought and allow the interpreter to translate.
- Monitor interpreters’ body language. They will signal if you need to pause.
- Paraphrase document contents for the interpreter. The interpreter’s function is to relay information provided by team members, not to sight translate what has been written.
- Maintain eye contact with the person being addressed.
- Monitor the listener’s facial expressions and reactions for signs of confusion.
- Pause when school bells, sirens, announcements or other distracting noises sound.
- Avoid the use of slang, jargon, idiomatic or colloquial expressions.
- Do not use jokes or other attempts at humor. They rarely translate well.
- Have only one person speak at a time.
- Do not engage in “sidebar” conversations unless you intend for them to be translated.