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”

health care interpreting, medical interpreting, new interpreters

The New Girl: Practical Tips for Starting Out

  • a classic!  embroidered shirt from my first full-time interpreting job.
    A classic! The shirt from my first full-time interpreting job in 2004.

    For February, I thought about doing some cheesy “Why I Heart Interpreting” post (and I really do heart interpreting, and I do love writing cheesiness), but I thought a post about getting started as an interpreter would be more useful. Friends, I’ve been there, on both sides of the coin.  As a job seeker, I’ve worked (and still work) for agencies.  I’ve applied for, interviewed for, and have been hired for full-time interpreting jobs.  I’ve also been on the other side, reviewing applications and interviewing candidates.  Here are a few points to get you started, from the voice of experience.  (If you’re already working, but still new, you might want to check out my post on what to expect in an interpreting assignment, and must-know terminology for medical interpreters.)

    Continue reading “The New Girl: Practical Tips for Starting Out”

health care interpreting, medical interpreting, new interpreters

From Beginning to End: The Interpreted Medical Visit

Did someone call for an interpreter?
Did someone call for an interpreter?

For the first time in months, I took an assignment for a medical interpreting job.  While my language skills are just fine for this setting, I was reminded how difficult this work really is and how flexible we have to be, and it made me remember how nervous I was when I was new.  Mostly because I had no idea what to expect.  These points don’t have anything to do with terminology.  Terminology and asking for clarification is a different matter.  Here’s a basic run-down of what you can expect in an interpreted encounter in the outpatient world. Continue reading “From Beginning to End: The Interpreted Medical Visit”

certification for healthcare interpreters, health care interpreting, Interpreter Training, medical interpreting, new interpreters

Certificates and Certifications: Stop the Madness

The misunderstandings surrounding certification for interpreters reached a fever pitch in my world this week. The whole cloud of confusion surrounding translation and interpretation is nothing compared to the certification issue.

I’ve been having the usual blast I have teaching Bridging the Gap this week, and I’ve also been hearing the usual questions about being a Bridging the Gap certified interpreter after we finish the training.  Bridging the Gap certified? Nope.

CCHI cert selfie!
CCHI cert selfie!

When you take Bridging the Gap, or Medical Terminology for Interpreters, or any other training like that, at the end you receive a certificate of completion or a certificate of attendance.  You have to pass a written test at the end of BTG to demonstrate that you learned what I taught you from the curriculum, and then you get a certificate of completion. The certificate doesn’t ever expire. It’s simply proof that you attended a training, and maybe passed a test at the end–A test that evaluates your knowledge of the curriculum content of that specific training, but that does not attest that you’re competent to interpret, and does not attest to your language skills.

Continue reading “Certificates and Certifications: Stop the Madness”

health care interpreting, medical interpreting, new interpreters, terminology

Medical Terminology for Interpreters: What I Know

medical terminology

I’ve written about terminology before, and about how you can memorize lists and lists of terminology, but it’s not going to save you when you’re hit with words you didn’t even know that you didn’t know how to say.  But here I am to offer up a teeny piece of what I know from being an interpreter: What I might call my “must-know” words.  Understand that words are just words, and you still have to learn them in context, ideally through interpreting practice.  I did a lot of interpreting practice when preparing for my state court exam.  My preparation for my national health care exam was a decade of interpreting in hospitals, and everyone (patients, providers, and me) would have had a much easier go of it in the beginning if someone had revealed these tips to me.  So here they are, to get you started, or to start an argument if you’re a working interpreter who’d like to disagree with me (it’s allowed): Continue reading “Medical Terminology for Interpreters: What I Know”