Preparation checklist

Before starting the interpreting session please:

  • Ensure the Community Interpreter understands the service
  • Clarify your role within the service
  • Allow the Community Interpreter time to introduce themselves and their role to the Service User
  • Arrange seating for the most direct communication between you and the Service User
  • Explain the purpose and most likely outcome of the meeting
  • Ensure the Community Interpreter is aware of the meanings of technical terms

During the interpreting session please:

  • Allow enough time for the interview
  • Avoid ambiguous or complex grammar
  • Use “sign‐posts” like “for example” or “lastly” to explain the purpose of your speech
  • Avoid colloquial expressions which might be difficult to translate
  • Explain the purpose of questions you ask
  • Use short sentences
  • Moderate the speed of speech
  • Check assumptions and clarify impressions
  • Summarise and check what you have understood
  • Allow the Community Interpreter time to intervene where necessary
  • Try to use words which you think the Interpreter and Service User will understand

Concluding the interpreting session please:

  • Check with the Service User that they have understood everything
  • Allow the Service User to ask supplementary questions or seek clarification
  • Make any necessary follow up sessions and then confirm with the SIS Co‐ordination Team by sending a Booking Form
  • If the session has been traumatic offer the Community Interpreter support and notify the SIS Co‐ordinator
  • Feedback to the SIS Co‐ordinator if there have been any difficulties
  • Complete and sign the relevant sections of the Community Interpreters Assignment Form

Additional things to consider:

  • “Interpreting is the oral transmission of meaning from one language to another which is easily understood by the listener”
  • Please check with the Community Interpreter before assuming that they are distorting or adding to your meaning.
  • Trained Community Interpreters attempt to bridge the communication gap which is made up of cultural knowledge, power and information as well as language.
  • The pressures on the Community Interpreter
  • The responsibility for the interview is yours
  • The Community Interpreter is not an advocate or a community representative
  • Do not assume that the Community Interpreter is automatically a skilled translator
  • Please read out documents to be interpreted slowly.  Please do not pass documents and forms to the Community Interpreter and delegate responsibility for their explanation
  • To be patient and show compassion in a demanding situation
  • To be aware of your own personal biases
  • The Community Interpreter should be treated as a professional

Thank you for taking the time to read this checklist.

Please do not hesitate to contact SIS if you wish to discuss an issue or concern arising form this checklist.  Fuller Guidelines for Service Providers Working with Sussex Interpreting Services are available on this website.