The Role of Legal Interpreters

With the recent news of one state making court and legal interpreters mandatory and free of charge, other states have risen to the occasion, creating a call for interpreters in the courtroom. Since a 2011 ruling, it’s mandatory that an interpreter is present when requested.

Here are some things to consider to make the experience for both you and your interpreter easier in an already stressful situation.

Is the legal interpreter qualified? Before you decide to work with a legal interpreter, do they have the prerequisites that would make them adequate for the job? Make sure they are certified, and are proficient in your language as well as the target language. Even if you are fluent in English, courtroom and legal jargon can be incredibly intimidating. Imagine trying to express your thoughts and receive information containing legal terms and not understanding their definitions. While each state may have different requirements, all legal interpreters go through a battery of vigorous tests which include and comprehension of vocabulary and definitions of legal terms.

Cultural sensitivity – As always, cultural sensitivity will be a definitive factor while working with an interpreter. It goes without saying that obtaining accurate information is essential. Having an interpreter that knows how to translate a string of sentences that may contain regional slang is vital, especially with a pending legal situation. If descriptions of events need to be recounted, the interpreter will be able to take that information and deliver an accurate response.

Be a neutral presence – Whatever the legal case may be, the interpreter must be neutral to the situation, and provide translations that are void of personal opinions. A professional will function as an avenue of communication between yourself and the person you need to deliver information to, and nothing more. The interpreter should also never provide advice in regards to statements made, or any of the content pertaining to the case. Make sure that you are speaking to the individual, and avoid speaking directly to the interpreter. The interpreter should never become part of the conversation.

Adheres to professional code of conduct – Due to the extreme sensitivity of information, an interpreter will never disclose the confidential material they have received. Interpreters are held by strict guidelines and code of conduct that will be adhered to whether in the court of law, or in a law office.

When choosing an interpreter for legal needs, it’s important that they are not only qualified, but also possess the highest ethical standards and comply with all state mandated codes of conduct. If you are seeking a professional legal interpreter, we offer several different on-location services, and can be on site within 30 minutes. We have 2,000 professional interpreters knowledgeable in over 200 languages, available 365 days a year. Contact us to learn more!

6 Tips for Working with a Live Interpreter

When faced with a situation that involves dependency on a professional on the spot interpreter, there are a few things to keep in mind to ensure the session is beneficial to both parties. A skilled interpreter listens, comprehends, and delivers a conversation to the recipient in their language, and vice versa. For this reason, it’s important that the interpreter you’re working with is fluent in both your language and the language of the person you need to communicate with.

Here are a few tips that’ll make your first time with a professional interpreter a smooth one:

Make sure the interpreter is qualified – As mentioned above, understanding of the languages is one of the most important qualities an interpreter must possess. In addition to proficiency in languages, make sure your interpreter is up to date on their certifications. If you’re in need of an interpreter for business or in the medical field, it’s crucial that they’re well versed in terminology or vocabulary that allows them to effectively receive and deliver vital information.

Allow for enough time – Because there’s a potential for a conversation through an interpreter to take twice as long, plan out a sufficient amount of time for the entire process. This will eliminate the need to rush, and will result in good quality that’s critical when working with an interpreter.

Speak clearly – Even though an interpreter may be trained to listen and comprehend what is said at a quick pace, it’s still important to speak clearly and slowly. If you are unclear, the interpreter will have to stop you to repeat what you say, delaying the translation process. Remember to pause after a thought is complete. If you’re in a group, make sure only one person speaks at a time.

Choose your words wisely – Professional interpreters are knowledgeable of social cues, idioms and other cultural phrases. However: Depending on the type of translation you need, such as in a business setting, you’ll want to make sure you are using phrases that speak to the professionalism of the company you’re representing. With that being said, try your best to avoid complex sentences that contain heavy amounts of slang. Use simple yet concise wording that will easily be translatable, making the process smooth and productive.

Listen to responses before speaking again – While an interpreter is delivering a translation to you, be careful to not interrupt. Listen to the entire string of sentences before responding. This will allow for the person you’re trying to communicate with to express their thought through the interpreter, and will prevent backtracking or re-explaining.

Don’t rely on the interpreter to respond for you – Even when the simplest questions are asked, don’t rely on the interpreter to assume your answer, or answer for you on your behalf. An interpreter is a neutral presence, and isn’t meant to be involved in the conversation other than the purpose of providing communication and understanding.

Some individuals may lean on family members or friends for communicating, but what happens when it’s imperative to relay medical, legal, or business information? It’s important that you are working with a professional interpreter, as it’ll be the best way to avoid errors and misunderstandings. Whether for business, medical, or travel, Telelanguage offers 200 professional interpreters in over 2,000 languages, and are available 365 days a year. We offer both telephonic and on-location interpreters for any industry, contact us to learn more!

Three Useful Ways to Use Our iPhone App at Home

In the age of technology, there’s a phrase we’ve heard all too often: “There’s an app for that.” Although said humorously in situations where you actually wished you had an app for it, there is one that exists that is practical for key times you need immediate assistance with communication.

A brand new app for iPhone, which is useful to worldwide travelers, is also extremely helpful in everyday life. Check out how having an interpreter in your pocket is useful while in your homeland:

In metropolitan cities where amazing melting pots of businesses have been established, you might find that some parts of town are heavily populated with language speakers that are not your own. Ordering at restaurants or speaking to people in shops can be made into a unique experience when you are able to communicate with them. When you’re able to understand the language, you might also be surprised to learn more about your community, and the people that live there.

For those of us that have families overseas, having them come to town is a joyous occasion. For some, work or education obligations may cause periods of time where those family members are not close by. When we have to leave our loved ones in a city they aren’t familiar with, an [hyperlink]app that puts an interpreter[/hyperlink], in their hands will ease the stress of worrying if they’re able to communicate without you. Do you have family visiting you from a foreign country, and you’re not familiar with their language? Take this opportunity to be able to speak to them, and connect to them in a way you’ve never been able to before.

We might have family members that live with us whose native language differs from yours, so an interpreter that is certified and knowledgeable of medical terminology is a tremendous asset should that family member fall ill. What’s important is making sure the correct information is being relayed from the patient to the doctor, which makes an app that quickly connects you to a live interpreter so important. In a matter of mere seconds, you can rest easy that you’re getting the proper information, and the medical staff will be able to accurately tend to your loved one.

Having a live telephonic language interpreter that you can reach in a matter of seconds is useful for any situation, whether traveling abroad, or right where you live. Our iPhone app is available for free right here. Download it now, and challenge yourself to get more involved in your own community!

Live Interpreter iPhone App is Essential for Worldwide Travelers

Traveling to foreign countries is exciting, and immersing ourselves in the culture is something that’s rewarding, and for some, a once in a lifetime opportunity. After arriving in a different country, the first thing you’ll come into contact with is the language. Communication in a foreign country is vital, and understanding the language will enhance your experience.  Here’s ways live interpreters will help you on your next trip:

In the airport – Airports have the potential to be stressful, regardless if you’re familiar with the country or not. Immediately disembarking from the airplane will put you in front of directional signage that you may not understand. Making your way to baggage claim, exchanging currency, and locating the taxi terminal are all situations where a live interpreter would lend their understanding of the language to direct you through the airport, eliminating stress.

Asking for or relaying directions – After long flights, we expect to get to our hotel or living accommodations almost immediately after arrival. We also want to get to the destinations that will make our vacation a memorable one without getting lost. Being able to relay to a taxi driver exactly where to go will deliver you in an efficient time frame, and having a live interpreter helping with the navigation also ensures you’re arriving at the correct destination.

Making purchases – In some foreign countries, food or merchandise will be purchased at places where your spoken language is not translated on the menu or next to pricing in retail stores.  Some countries are famous for outdoor markets and food stands, completely immersing you in a language.  This can make ordering a challenge. If you have allergies, or simply want to know what’s in the delicacy you’re about to eat, you’ll have the confidence knowing what’s in the dish.

Communicating with the locals – The best part about visiting a foreign country is coming into contact with and enjoying the company of the local community. Having the extra advantage of being able to communicate in their language will allow you to experience their way of life and their culture.  A live interpreter is able to perform consecutive translations, listening to several complete sentences and delivering a culturally confident response that both you and the person you’re speaking to will understand.

Traveling with an accompanying live interpreter by your side is a luxury most feel is inaccessible.  We have a breakthrough solution to eliminate language barriers with a brand new iPhone app that connects anyone, anywhere to a live interpreter within seconds.

What sets Telelanguage’s app apart from the other translation apps  is expertise with not only language, but culture. Most apps rely on computer generated responses, resulting in misunderstood translations. With knowledge in 200 spoken languages, Telelanguage’s live interpreters are available 365 days of the year. This means wherever you go, you’ll always have a live telephonic interpreter ready to speak for you.

See how our iPhone app helped this traveler, and then download it  for free here.

Why certain industries need to provide interpreter services

We’re an interpreter services company. We have a little insight into the industries out that either use our services regularly or are in need of expanded use of interpreter services. With that in mind, we decided to put together of list of these industries and why it’s so important that they make interpreter services available. It’s not all inclusive — but it’s a start.

1. Medical — This is a given. People face life and death situations when it comes to their health, so they need to be able to communicate their needs, questions, and concerns with those providing services.

2. Emergency — Anyone can be impacted by an emergency at any given time. First responders have no clue what they are going to come across when they come into the fold. Given the diverse society we live in, it’s not too far-fetched that an individual might speak a different language. Access to interpreter services is crucial in such situations.

3. Legal – When it comes to legal issues, there is a lot on the line. From the initial conversation with an attorney to trial, it’s important that all parties be able to understand everything that is said. As such, interpreter services in the legal realm are imperative.

4. Customer Service (across industries) — When you have a problem, you want to be able to get the problem resolved. And if a company provides you with a number to call, you also want to be able to communicate with the person on the other end of the phone. Companies never know what language their end users may speak, so it’s important to be prepared to provide services to individuals whose language doesn’t match that of the representative on the other end of the phone.

Stay tuned. We’ll continue this list with four more industries soon. Are we on track so far?

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Industry-based interpreter nuances

An interpreter, is an interpreter, is an interpreter, right? Think again. A medical interpreter and a legal interpreter are not one in the same. Yes, it’s true that one individual can effectively do both, however that individual must know the nuances of both industries in order to make that happen. What works in medical interpreting, does not necessarily work in legal interpreting, and the same goes for other industries. Every industry has its own unique words, phrases and key terminology. An interpreter must be knowledgeable of each. Beyond that, the interpreter must properly apply terminology in the language he or she is providing interpreter services in.

At Telelanguage, we provide interpreter services in a variety of industries and strive daily to meet the unique needs of each industry we serve — embracing those nuances along the way.

Debunking the myth: Bilingual speakers are not necessarily interpreters

We’re here to debunk the myth that bilingual speakers are equally as equipped to interpret as interpreters.

1. Dialect –  Companies are judged by quality, accuracy, and proper word usage by clients. Selecting someone to interpret who doesn’t have the proper training may result in poor grammar and/or use of the vernacular. Some words may even be found to be insulting.

2. Training – The ability to communicate can be far different from properly communicating. When dealing in business, you want to come across as professional as possible. This requires working with a translator that has been properly trained and tested on the language your’re in need of. In the end, it makes you look good.

3. Specialization – Medical interpreting and legal interpreting are two different animals, each filled it’s own unique language. An individual who is not equipped with the skills and expertise required for a given field could lead to an unprofessional representation of your business — the last thing you want.

By selecting a professional interpreter agency, like Telelanguage, you’ll remove all the risk from the process and be able to sit comfortably knowing that your translator has your back. In high-intensity situations, they are trained on how to get key information in a flash.

Interpreter Insider: Megan C., Vietnamese Interpreter

Our second Interpreter Insider features Vietnamese Interpreter, Megan C. Enjoy!

 1. What made you become an interpreter?

When I first received a phone call from an unknown interpreting company 13 years back, I thought it was a joke when I was asked, “How would you like to work with our company as an interpreter?” Even though I was born and raised in Vietnam, I was not very fluent in the language because I had been in America for so long. In the end, I decided that it would be a great opportunity to keep my birth language and advance myself in the language. I was right. It did.

2. What is one of the most gratifying interpretation experience you’ve had? 

A recent story is with a older lady who is nearly blind. She lives alone. I have been going to her medical appointments, so I am very familiar with her history. During one recent appointment, I was assigned to interpret. She looked very swollen to me on her hands, arms, legs, and feet. I asked her if she had been taking her meds as prescribed by all the specialists that she sees. She replied yes. I told her that she did not look like she was feeling well that day. She told me no. I suggested after the appointment that she should head over to urgent care for an evaluation of her symptoms. The specialist whom she was seeing that time said the same thing as me, that she should be seen ASAP. The patient told the doctor and myself that she may not have the time today to do so. The doctor and I stressed that she should be seen in urgent care or go to the ER.

When the appointment ended, we walked to the outside of the medical building to join up with her daughter and grandchildren. She told me to slow down because she was feeling tired and wanted to catch her breath. I told her that we had not walked very far. I told her it seemed like your her condition was worsening. I also told her daughter to go ahead and drive the children to school and that I would walk her mother to urgent care myself. The doctor in urgent care ran some STAT tests on her. We learned that her congestive heart failure was getting worse and that we needed to rush her to the emergency department.

If I had not taken her to urgent care that day, she would have probably gone home with more serious symptoms and no one would have known. She could have died. She and her daughter thanked me for caring and taking her where she needed to go. I am not a licensed MD. However, I am extremely medically literate because I’ve learned from various knowledgeable providers in different specialties. Using my past education in medicine at UC Irvine and interpreting experiences gave me a chance to save a life. I am proud to say that I am a Vietnamese Interpreter.

3. What was one of the most difficult interpretation assignment you’ve had?

I would have to say it was a telephonic call from a mental hospital. The phone call lead to a very dramatic scenario with words that any human would feel uncomfortable saying. It got to a point where I didn’t know what to do. However, because I have taken numerous mental health facility and 911 calls, it helped me to effectively get through the call.

4. How do you know when it’s the appropriate time to advocate during interpretation assignments?

As interpreters, we are always told and reminded to be neutral and only interpret what is being said. Everyone has a different guilt threshold. If advocating means saving a life or making a huge of a difference, I would do it. Otherwise, refrain yourself from doing it. Every now and then, especially for and extremely ill patient, it is fine to advocate.

 5. How do you feel about the national certification system?

The national certification system would not really be accurate in judging an interpreter’s level of competency in the target language. Some people are better test takers than others. I belong to a couple of interpreting associations. I have asked a good number of other non-Vietnamese interpreters on what the national certification test is like. From my understanding, it tests you to see if you know your anatomy blending in with language knowledge of course. A good medical interpreter doesn’t mean a true good interpreter. What I mean to say is that a ” True Expert Interpreter” should know almost all subjects of all aspects of the language.

If I could come up with my own national certification system, it would be multiple ones with multiple disciplines. For example, one for the legal side, another for the medical, a mental and social services certificate, and so on. The interpreter would have to choose which one they are tested on, or they could be tested for all disciplines.

Communication, Technology and the Olympic Games

Employee Spotlight – Kaz Yamazaki, interpreter manager

After working in this industry for many years and watching the 2012 London Olympics, the distance we’ve come with communication services astonishes me. During the live Games, announcers and broadcasters have access to interpretations and translations in various languages almost immediately. Interviews with the athletes, game plans during timeouts, motivational words from coaches, anything you can imagine is translated for viewers in seconds. One of my favorite moments of the Games are the speeches from the winning athletes. It’s their opportunity to thank their love ones and share the words they want the world to hear.

 In these moments, I think to myself, “Doesn’t everyone deserve to hear exactly what the athletes are saying?”

It’s not just about quality communication service alone, but the yearly advancement in communication technology that allows this service to be delivered in the most accurate, immediate and professional manner possible. This is what I see happening at Telelanguage every day. We continuously strive for position ourselves at the top of the industry, providing higher quality services in the most up-to-date methods available.