5 Little Changes That Make a Big Difference with Your Interpreter

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5 Little Changes That Make a BIG Difference During Interpreter Appointments | IU Blog

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If you schedule professional interpreters during medical appointments or business meetings, chances are you’re already familiar with the interpretation process. But did you know that there are some things you can do to improve communication between you and your patient or client? These subtle things will make all the difference during your next appointment.

  1. Schedule enough time for the interpretation to take place – Remember that these appointments or meetings will likely be double the time of your regular appointments. During consecutive interpretation, the interpreter waits for one party to speak before they relay what was said, which will require extra time.
  2. Remember to review key points before the appointment begins. This is necessary for appointments when the patient is emotionally disturbed or suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Let the interpreter know about patient concerns or gender preferences before the session begins. This way, the interpreter will be aware of what is going on and the patient will feel comfortable communicating with a third person in the room.
  3. Do some research. – A little background information about the culture of the non-English speaker will go a long way. For instance, there may be a socioeconomic class system in the person’s native country that could affect the way they communicate with someone who is from a higher (or lower) class.
  4. Make eye contact during the appointment. —Look directly at the limited English speaking or Deaf person. The interpreter functions solely as a medium. The role of the interpreter is to facilitate communication between two parties, they are not actively involved in the conversation.
  5. Don’t speak to the interpreter – Of course it’s O.K. to speak to the interpreter before the appointment begins. However, number five refers to while the interpretation is session. Don’t ask the interpreter a question or anything that is not related to the patient’s immediate care.

Overall, it’s important to be aware of the cross-cultural differences between non-English speakers and the English-speaking community. Learning how to communicate between disparate cultures, ethnicities, genders and backgrounds is the key to accurate interpretation and understanding from the source message to the target message. Following these steps will not only improve appointment operations, it will drastically improve communication between you and your patient, client or colleague.


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Making Connections Nationwide. Interpreters Unlimited provides comprehensive foreign language and American Sign Langauge services in the United States. IU works with every major industry including, healthcare, government, education, corporate and insurance, providing high-quality language services for onsite, over-the-phone and video remote interpretation services. For more information, please call 800-726-9891 to speak with a representative.

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