change, court interpreting, grad school, health care interpreting, interpreter life, interpreter services, leadership for interpreters, medical interpreting, new interpreters, self discovery for interpreters

“Getting It”: One Interpreter’s Reflections on Jonathan Downie’s Interpreters vs Machines

Known for his “troublesome” pushing back against the status quo, Dr Jonathan Downie structures Interpreters vs Machines: Can Interpreters Survive in an AI-Dominated World?— his second book — as a game, and invites us to play.

The robots are pretty cute, actually.

OK, I’m in.

He speaks from his experience as a researcher and conference interpreter, but from the beginning he brings us all into the fold– spoken and signed language interpreters in every setting. No matter where we’re working, we’d all do well to pause and reflect on how we understand and talk about our work. The fundamentals of what we do and how we talk about it to clients also seem relevant to my previous work in running an interpreter services department in the healthcare setting, where even though in theory, the services were required by law and hospital policy, in practice, we still very much had to sell interpreter services (even though the service came at no cost to the users!).

Continue reading ““Getting It”: One Interpreter’s Reflections on Jonathan Downie’s Interpreters vs Machines
court certification, court interpreting, grad school, health care interpreting, interpreter life, interpreter services, Interpreter Training, language access, leadership for interpreters, medical interpreting, new interpreters, Personal, self discovery for interpreters, teaching and training, working with interpreters

A Day in the Life of a Freelance Interpreter

As a freelance Spanish interpreter working in legal, court, and conference settings, my days vary. A lot.

Working from the booth, one of my favorite places to be!

A bit of background first: I’ve been in the freelance market for two years now, and it’s been three years since I finished my graduate work in interpreting. Before grad school, I worked as a staff interpreter and an interpreter services supervisor for about ten years. Before that, I worked as a subcontracted interpreter for an agency for a couple years while I was finishing my bachelor’s degree in Spanish, and for a while after I finished undergrad. So while I’m not new in interpreting, I’m still pretty new as a freelancer.

Continue reading “A Day in the Life of a Freelance Interpreter”
certification for healthcare interpreters, certification prep, conference interpreter training, court certification, grad school, health care interpreting, Interpreter Training, medical interpreting, new interpreters, oral exam preparation, supervising interpreters, teaching and training

The Interpreter and the Sandwich, or: Why Feedback Is Not About Your Feelings

Feedback forms from my work in this year’s co>lab interpreting intensive in Mexico City. These comments from colleagues are like nuggets of gold!

There’s a funny thing about feedback and interpreters. We all claim that when it comes to feedback: Tell it to us like it is! Don’t mince words! I can take it! Bring it on! As if feedback is this awful thing we must brace ourselves for.

I’ve (very generally) seen feedback divided into two main camps: We should be gentle in our feedback so that we protect the interpreter’s self esteem. Or, we should just tell it to them straight because this is the real world and clients aren’t going to handle them with such care. But there’s another approach that is considerate, yet straightforward: We should base our feedback on goals that are established by the interpreter so that it is useful. Continue reading “The Interpreter and the Sandwich, or: Why Feedback Is Not About Your Feelings”

change, health care interpreting, Interpreter Training, medical interpreting, new interpreters, self discovery for interpreters, teaching and training

Swimming, Interpreting, and Reflexions On Experiential Learning

Somewhere near the beginning of this semester, I took up swimming. A few lessons in, my teacher introduced the breast stroke. “Arms, legs, and gliiiide”, she told me. But I couldn’t get my arms and legs right for the glide. She told me the breast stroke is a resting stroke. But it was so effortful, just to move forward a tiny bit. My shoulders hurt. My neck hurt from holding up my head when I felt like I was pulling myself underwater so long I couldn’t come up for a breath. Continue reading “Swimming, Interpreting, and Reflexions On Experiential Learning”

new interpreters

Writing to an Interpreter

florian-klauer-489For years now I’ve gotten all kinds of written messages asking for advice about interpreting. If you’re just starting out as an interpreter–especially if you live in an area where you’re not connected to a professional network–it can be tough to know what steps to take, and writing to an established interpreter for advice can be a huge help. It can also be hard to know how to do it so you get a good result. Here are my top tips for writing to an interpreter (or any professional, really) to ask for advice. Continue reading “Writing to an Interpreter”

conference interpreter training, grad school, Interpreter Training, new interpreters, oral exam preparation

The Interpreter and the Salami

salami-technique.pngIn my grad school training, one of the techniques we learned was called “the salami”. If you ask an interpreter trainer about it, you might hear some why-do-we-call-it-salami-when-we-already-have-a-perfectly-good-name-for-it-which-is-segmentation grumbling. The salami technique, or the technique formerly known as segmentation, is tough to articulate.

Here I present to you some specific, language-neutral examples that bring the salami technique (including the rhetorical question) to life. Continue reading “The Interpreter and the Salami”

conference interpreter training, grad school, Interpreter Training, new interpreters, self discovery for interpreters

Yes, conference interpreting is a thing

A view from the training booth!

During grad school, when I was living in Toronto and constantly traveling back and forth between the US and Canada, I got used to this question as the customs agent saw the student visa in my passport: What are you studying? It took me a while to come up with a short answer, because when I said, “conference interpreting”, I was just met with more questions about what conference interpreting actually is, as if I’d made it up. Continue reading “Yes, conference interpreting is a thing”

health care interpreting, interpreter services, Interpreter Training, medical interpreting, new interpreters, standards of practice for interpreters

The Tenth Standard of Practice: Don’t Be Alone With the Patient

An empty waiting room and…

Just kidding. There is no tenth standard of practice, and there is no standard that explicitly states, “Don’t be alone with the patient.” But the way interpreters and interpreter trainers talk, you’d think there was. I am guilty of participating in the creating and reinforcing of this belief.

“Just DON’T do it,” I remember telling interpreter trainees back in 2009, when I was cutting my teeth as an interpreter trainer. “Don’t EVER be alone with the patient.” Continue reading “The Tenth Standard of Practice: Don’t Be Alone With the Patient”

certification for healthcare interpreters, certification prep, health care interpreting, medical interpreter written exam prep for national certification, medical interpreting, new interpreters, oral exam preparation

Certifying Bodies and Professional Organizations for Healthcare Interpreters

The NCIHC doesn't certify interpreters, but they make cool interpreter swag, like this!
The NCIHC is a professional organization, not a certifying body, and they advocate for equal access to healthcare for people of all languages.

Certifying bodies and professional organizations!  It’s not always clear who does what, so here’s a quick run-down of national certifying bodies and professional organizations:

National Board for Certified Medical Interpreters: One of two national certifying bodies that offers certification to interpreters who qualify.  When you have this certification, you have to maintain it by attending educational events that are approved for Continuing Education (CEs). Accepts CEs from IMIA. Continue reading “Certifying Bodies and Professional Organizations for Healthcare Interpreters”

medical interpreting, new interpreters, terminology

Mouth Up and Mouth Down: Interpreting in Physical Therapy

weights-2-1495625-1280x960Hey, guys!  I’ve been on a roll lately taking agency jobs (after many years of not working for an agency), and many of them have been for physical therapy appointments.  As a full-time interpreter, I worked a lot with physical therapists, both in the inpatient and outpatient settings, and I forgot how cool the therapists are, and how tough the interpreting can be!  I’ve put together a short list of tips that might help if you’re preparing to interpret in physical therapy.

Open bay transparency: The interpreting I’ve been doing lately takes place in a big open room, where the therapist seeing the patient is interacting with other therapists and other patients (as opposed to having a conversation exclusively with just the one patient I’m assigned to).  In one case, my patient was chatting with another patient next to her–in Spanish.  Being transparent can be tough, but it can be done, and there’s not just one way to do it!  Continue reading “Mouth Up and Mouth Down: Interpreting in Physical Therapy”