8 Phone Interpreting Tips: How to Have a Successful Phone Interpreting Session

8 Phone Interpreting Tips: How to Have a Successful Phone Interpreting Session

Using a phone interpreter for your multilingual conversations may seem intimidating at first. You might be thinking through how to coordinate the Limited English Proficient (LEP) individual, the interpreter, the calling device, and your nuanced situation all at once. The unknown variables around a new experience can sometimes feel more intimidating than they truly are. In reality,  on-demand phone interpreting is a user-friendly and adaptable service designed to meet the needs of your specific situation.

As not all situations warrant an on-site or virtual interpreter, phone interpreting has become the next-best, most effective solution for your brief or straightforward interactions with LEP individuals. A medical facility calling their LEP patient for appointment confirmation, or a logistics company having a short conversation with an LEP employee are both examples where phone interpreting is well suited.

We recommend the following tips to ensure the best results from your interpreting sessions and help make your first calls effortless. Don’t hesitate to let the interpreter know if this is the first time using our on-demand phone interpreting service. They can help guide you and offer insights into the process.

1. Brief the interpreter before the conversation if you want to share any vital information.

Depending on your situation, speak to the interpreter first, and let them know any important information about the session if needed. This background knowledge can help prepare the interpreter for the type of conversation to expect and give them insight into how to talk to the LEP individual on your behalf. This results in a more meaningful conversation.

2. The interpreter will only repeat what is being said – verbatim.

Interpreters are trained to be neutral parties in a conversation. They are solely the communication bridge between you and the LEP person, meaning they will avoid interjecting or involving themselves in the exchange.

The interpreter will use the pronoun “I” on behalf of the LEP individual when interpreting. No need to be thrown off or confused! Remember that the interpreter is not speaking for themselves, but is referring to the LEP person.

3. Speak clearly and in a normal voice.

Just as you would in a first-time conversation, be intentional and aware of your speaking pace. It may be easy to start being conscious of these things only to soon find yourself midway through the discussion speaking too fast. If this is the case, make sure to set checkpoints to remind yourself to keep your tone clear and steady throughout your session. If you are unsure, ask the interpreter at any point if you are being well understood.

4. Allow for extra time for interpreted communication sessions.

The sessions will take longer than a typical interaction since the conversation is repeated twice, once in your language and again by the interpreter in the LEP’s language. Allot the necessary time in your schedule to accommodate this exchange of information. Don’t be in a rush, and practice patience as you wait for the interpreter.

5. Avoid acronyms, slang words, colloquial terms, or idioms.

Use simple and concise wording that will easily translate. Not all ideas translate well into different languages. For example, the English idiom “break a leg”, though common in many English-speaking countries, does not make sense in other languages.

To ensure you are being understood, it’s best practice to avoid these types of phrases and instead replace them with brief descriptions of what you are trying to convey.

6. Remember to pause between your sentences or complete thoughts.

Be polite, as in any other conversation you would have with a patient, employee, or client. Be mindful not to interrupt the interpreter or the LEP while they are speaking. This will help avoid any confusion for the interpreter who is speaking on behalf of both parties. Make sure to listen carefully to what is being interpreted. The interpreter will also pause to let you know when they are finished.

7. Speak directly to the Limited English Proficient speaker (LEP), not the interpreter.

We believe the most valuable tip for a successful phone interpreting session is to develop a connection with the LEP speaker and not the interpreter. Though the interpreter is there to help guide and navigate the conversation, your focus should always be on the needs of the LEP individual. The session will always be much more effective when the LEP feels understood and comfortable enough to ask questions to clarify any information.

8. Be sure there is only one person speaking at a time.

If the LEP individual is talking over the interpreter, briefly interject and stop the session momentarily. Ask the interpreter to inquire if the LEP has something to say or to add.

Concluding thoughts

With our on-demand phone interpreting services, your language needs are covered with 24/7 availability in over 200 languages. With no set-up fees or minimum commitments, it’s accessible any time for a simple per-minute charge. Whether you deal with hundreds of multilingual conversations a month or interact with LEP individuals every once in a while, you can use this scalable service on an as-needed basis.

Our experienced phone interpreters hold advanced interpreter certifications and are bound by strict confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements. With the help of our interpreters and a few pointers, you can feel confident as you head into your next multilingual conversation!

Want to try out our phone interpreting services and see how it works for your organization? Call 317.341.4137 or email us at info@LUNA360.com to set up your account for free.