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How to Work with an Interpreter -  Tips & Advice 

Your Role

When working with an interpreter either in person or over the phone, there are a few things you should keep in mind to ensure your call or conference is handled quickly and successfully.

  • Keep in mind you will need increased conference time when using an interpreter since everything will be said twice.
  • Immediately introduce yourself to the non-English speaking ELL parent and explain your reason for calling or for the conference.
  • Your call or conference will be a “consecutive” interpretation. This means you will experience pauses when the interpreter repeats each statement in the respective language.
  • After you speak one-two sentences or finish a thought, pause to give the interpreter enough time to interpret
  • Always speak in first person, just as you would in normal conversation. For example, say, “What questions do you have about your child?” rather than “Ask her what her questions are about her child..”
  • Always maintain direct eye contact with the parent when you are speaking through the interpreter.
  • Some terminology and concepts may not have an equivalent in the target language. Be prepared to explain some things in more detail for the interpreter.
  • Control the conversation. The interpreter is only there to interpret. You are responsible for making sure the ELL parent receives the same service as an English-speaking parent.
  • Ask the interpreter and the ELL parent questions to ensure they understand what you want to communicate.
  • Avoid asking the interpreter for his/her opinion about the situation being interpreted.

Your Interpreter’s Role

  • Make sure your interpreter introduces himself/herself.
  • Your interpreter should not have a side conversation with you or the parent. He or she must relay everything that is said back to you or the parent. This includes any advice that the parent may ask of the interpreter.
  • Your interpreter should not discuss anything unrelated to the interpretation assignment with you or the parent.

The district contracts with Columbia Language for interpretation services 360-896-388.

More questions about telephone or in-person interpretation?

Contact us at 360-604-4007 or email carmen.schletewitz@evergreenps.org

Updated October 2017 ELL Department