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What You Need to Know about an Interpreter’s Code of Ethics

With the recent events at the presidential summit in Helsinki and the request for the Trump/Putin interpreter to be subpoenaed to testify about what was discussed during this meeting, many have started to wonder and ask about the interpreter codes of ethics.

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As with many different types of professionals, interpreters abide by a strict code of ethics for the assignments they handle. Although each type of interpreting professional (medical, community, court, etc.) could have a different code of ethics, the basic components remain the same across the board.

· Accuracy. An interpreter cannot embellish, omit, or change anything that is said. He or she must interpret only what is said, exactly as it is said. This remains true for the usage of slang, obscenities, inflections of tone, etc.

· Impartiality. The interpreter must remain impartial and neutral during the assignment. He or she should not reveal his/her opinion about the discussion, nor attempt to sway anyone listening, with word choices or emotion.

· Proficiency and accurate representation of credentials. That is to say, the interpreter must be qualified for the assignment he or she accepts, and should be willing to continuously improve his or her skill set via workshops, conferences, trainings or other classes.

· Confidentiality. Unless otherwise authorized, an interpreter must not discuss what he or she has heard while on an assignment. This is often likened to attorney/client or doctor/patient privileges.

If you do decide to contract an interpreter for a hearing, deposition, or meeting, you can rest assured that a professional will adhere to these core components of their code of ethics. Breaching the tenant of confidentiality (or any other) could easily ruin an interpreter’s career or have other serious repercussions.

When to Call an Interpreter for Your Next Employee Meeting

Good, clear communication can be difficult enough to accomplish when you and your employees all speak the same language. If your employee does not speak English at all or has limited English proficiency (LEP), then the task of communicating during your HR meetings is especially problematic. Whether discussing a personal matter during a disciplinary meeting or handling ongoing training for a group of employees all at once, it is important to know when to bring in an interpreter. Here are just a few examples of when to call in a professional interpreter to assist you.

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1.     Your meeting involves disciplinary action. Even if your LEP employee has been able to “get by” during the vast majority of your meetings, it is best to use an interpreter if you need anything signed involving disciplinary action, and especially for terminating employment at your organization. If you are giving an employee feedback on his or her job performance, it is critical that he or she understand both what is expected moving forward and why the meeting was called in the first place. If the employee does not understand both of these things, there is little chance that he or she will be able to implement the necessary changes to continue to move your organization forward, and protect you both from any misunderstandings if proper language access is not made available.

2.     Training your LEP employees on new material. You may also need an interpreter if you are training a group of LEP individuals on something critical to their job performance. Someone may have a very good grasp of the vernacular used for everyday conversations within the workplace, but he or she could be completely incapable of understanding specific jargon or more technical training, especially in written forms like manuals or signage. It is worth the investment to ensure your employees understand what they need to do to perform their jobs properly. This will help eliminate turnover and also ensure your company is performing at its peak if your employees do not have obstacles impacting their training.

3.     The employee requests one. This one may seem obvious, but dismissing an employee’s request for an interpreter can make your meeting very difficult. Even if you seem to be communicating well before the employee’s request, your employee knows when he or she would feel more comfortable having someone interpret instead. If your employee is comfortable communicating with you, they will be less likely to come back to you later with issues or claim that they didn’t understand what was happening at the time of your communications.

BONUS TIP! If your employee is deaf or hard of hearing, you may actually be required to bring in a qualified American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter or other sufficient auxiliary aid based on Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Remember, ensuring good, clear communications between you and your employees is key to guaranteeing the best workplace environment possible. It will protect you from any potential issues that may arise from language barriers and will save you from having multiple meetings on the same subject. When in doubt, err on the side of caution and offer to bring in an interpreter, or even use a telephonic interpreting service when it will be sufficient.

The Unsung Roles of Court Interpreters

Court interpreters are vital in ensuring that your Limited English Proficiency (LEP) or non-English speaking clients understand the legal proceedings just as if they spoke English fluently themselves. However, interpreting during proceedings is just part of what court interpreters do each day. Here are 4 things you may not realize about the role of court interpreters.  

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1.     Court interpreters are always learning and improving to maintain the appropriate skillset needed to remain at a highly proficient and professional level in the court setting. Just as language is always evolving, so is the law. Interpreters often take courses and seminars to stay up-to-date in their field of expertise in order to ensure they are providing the best legal interpreting services in and out of the courtrooms. Not only do they need to stay up-to-speed with new legal terms and court procedures, they also need to remain current when it comes to language that may be used by clients within the courtroom, including changes to regional dialects and slang.

2.     There are various methods for court interpreting, depending on the scenario. Most court interpreting is done via simultaneous interpreting. The interpreter may wear a set of headphones with a microphone and interpret in real time for the client, who is also wearing a headset. However, not all courts are equipped with these headsets, and/or the setting may call for consecutive interpreting instead. In this latter scenario, the interpreter waits until the speaker has completed a sentence or thought before he or she begins speaking.

3.     Interpreters often work in teams to avoid fatigue. Interpreting for any length of time can come with mental and physical fatigue. Because of this, team interpreting is an industry standard for proceedings that last longer than 2 hours. This helps prevent being overworked, and alternating between two highly qualified interpreters will help the proceedings move more quickly, efficiently, and accurately—a definite benefit for you and your clients.

4.     They are often asked to do sight reading/translation of documents presented during the trial. The interpreter must then read the document in one language, and recite what it says aloud in another language so that all parties understand what it says.

How has your experience been with court interpreters? If you’ve come across anything in your experience that surprised you when working with an interpreter, we’d love to hear about it! Let us know by leaving a comment!

Looking Beyond Your ESL Teachers for Translation/Interpreting Needs

Looking Beyond Your ESL Teachers for Translation/Interpreting Needs

It may be tempting to use your English as a Second Language (ESL) teachers to translate texts your school needs in another language, or to ask them to interpret for parents who don’t speak English well. However, it is important to note that unless they have a background as a professional translator or interpreter in the particular field you need, your ESL teachers are not those best skilled to handle this task.

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Do You Know When to Call an Interpreter for Your Next Client Meeting?

Do You Know When to Call an Interpreter for Your Next Client Meeting?

Good, clear communication can be difficult enough to accomplish when you and your client both speak the same language. If your client does not speak English at all or has limited English proficiency (LEP), then the task of communicating during your client meetings is especially problematic. Whether discussing the facts of your client’s potential case or deposing a witness with limited English abilities, it is important to know when to bring in an interpreter. Here are just a few examples of when to call in a professional interpreter to assist you.

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The Importance of Language Services during Disaster Relief Efforts

The Importance of Language Services during Disaster Relief Efforts

When a city or country is hit by a natural disaster, such as the recent hurricanes in the Caribbean, Florida and Texas, earthquakes in Mexico, as well the wildfires in California, many volunteer agencies send people and groups to assist with providing aid and relief to those who are coping with the aftermath. These groups are instrumental in providing food, water, shelter, clothing, and other basic necessities for those affected by the disaster. However, they are not always equipped with the basic language skills to communicate effectively with these individuals, which could hinder the relief efforts immensely in certain cases. For that reason, volunteers assisting with language translation and interpretation can be just as important as any other volunteer providing aid.

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Global Real Estate Success (Even When You Don’t Speak Another Language)

Global Real Estate Success (Even When You Don’t Speak Another Language)

You may be wondering what it takes to successfully market to and attract international clients. While speaking the language of the clients you are marketing to may be beneficial, it isn’t absolutely necessary when it comes to reaching an international market. We’ve compiled a list of 5 tips for increasing your likelihood for success.

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Back to School! What Content to Translate for Parents Who Don't Speak English

Back to School! What Content to Translate for Parents Who Don't Speak English

The back-to-school season is officially in full swing! As an educator or provider of educational materials, you already know how important it can be to understand the needs of your students both inside and outside of the classroom. You may also already be familiar with some of the difficulties that present themselves if a student’s parents speak a language other than English. It’s hard to know whether or not these parents fully understand some of the important papers, documents and materials distributed to their children. In fact, you might not even receive some of the information back that needs to be signed/returned. To best serve your students, parents, and teachers alike, we’ve compiled a list of items you may want to have translated in order to help ensure clear communication between the school and parents.

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