10 tips for working with a telephonic interpreter

Here is a list of 10 tips for working with a telephonic interpreter:

    • Minimize use of speaker phones, as they can negatively impact sound quality and this affects the interpreter’s ability to be accurate and complete.
    • Greet the interpreter, but then speak directly to the patient/client, not the interpreter.
    • Recognize that the interpreter is translating exactly what is said by both parties.
    • Understand that the interpreter may have to paint word pictures of terms you use and this may take longer than your original speech.
    • Avoid slang and technical terms when speaking to the patient/client.
    • Break up long segments of text into shorter segments to allow the interpreter to accurately convey the information. To do this, speak slowly and at an even pace, pausing often. It is also helpful to avoid:
      -Complicated sentence structure
      -Changing ideas in the middle of a sentence
      -Asking multiple questions at one time
    • Ask the interpreter to point out potential cultural misunderstandings.
    • Request a clarification if you are unsure as to whether everything said has been interpreted.
    • Refrain from making assumptions about your patient/client’s educational level. An inability to speak English does not mean a lack of education.
    • Remember that you are always in control of the encounter.