How to work effectively with interpreters

We provide training for staff who work with public service interpreters and community interpreters. An eLearning option will become available in summer 2021 - click on the video for a preview of this course.

Who is the training for?

This course is for staff who have to rely on instinct to recognise the behavior of a skilled interpreter, and have not been trained in the conventions of working with an interpreter. It covers both face to face and telephone interpreting and will be useful for staff in the following settings-

  • Health care

  • Social work and advocacy

  • Immigration

  • Social care

  • Legal and judiciary

  • Policing

Mistakes are all too common.

The following video demonstrates just how easy it is to make mistakes when you have not been trained in the use of interpreters. 

Test yourself .

In the space of one minute this service provider makes 6 mistakes. Can you spot them all?

How NOT to speak to an interpreter-

How many mistakes did you spot? Scroll down to find out what they were.

Six common mistakes.

  1. She has left the interpreter and the client alone together. They should be kept apart, both before and after the appointment.

  2. She hasn't briefed the interpreter in advance so he doesn't know anything at all about Maria's situation. This will make it harder for him to do his job.

  3. Her eye contact is with the wrong person, she should be looking at the client.

  4. She assumes that the interpreter and the client can understand each other. She should check that they speak the same dialect/ language.

  5. She instructs the interpreter to ‘find out when her mum arrived in the UK.' Instead she should speak directly to Maria ('When did your mum arrive in the UK?')

  6. She says something disparaging about the client’s English level which presumably she doesn’t want to be interpreted. Never say anything unless you wish it to be interpreted.

Available in summer 2021

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Would you like to be notified as soon as the course becomes available? Let us know your name and organisation and you will be among the first to know. 

Can't wait?

The webinar version of this training is available already. To book a webinar for your organisation get in touch, or click here to buy a ticket for our next multi-agency webinar.

More eLearning by English Unlocked

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This course gives healthcare workers better communication skills for moments when the interpreter is not there. It does not reduce or replace the need for interpreters but rather is a complement to that service. Click here to learn more.