Interpretation holds an important place in our country’s education system. Adequate communication to Limited English Proficient (LEP) individuals is mandated by school-related federal laws and legislation that address the topic. Depending on the school district, it might not be a practical possibility to have a professional interpreter on staff or ready for spontaneous situations. Similarly, there may be multiple languages to accommodate within a school district and limited resources when it comes to interpretation. In these instances, telephonic interpretation is a logical and economical choice.
Telephonic interpretation is often available at any time, from any location, and in any number of languages. A telephonic interpreter can be used any time any other professional interpreting services would be needed. In the education system, this would most likely be for parent-teacher meetings, school meetings, or parent-administrator phone calls.
Best Practices for School Meetings
In addition to the overall best practices for using a telephonic interpreter, here are some tips to ensure a positive experience during a parent-teacher conference or other school meeting.
- Training. Before the scheduled school meeting or conference night, have a training session for interpreters and staff in order to make sure that all people involved have the skills and understanding necessary to support the families. This includes ensuring that the interpreter feels comfortable with certain words or phrases that might not exist in the target language, such as “special education” or “state standards”. Training may not always be possible for telephonic interpreters, so confirm that your language provider offers interpreters who specialize in interpreting for the education system.
- Schedule more time. Conferences and school informational meetings that use an interpreter will naturally take more time. Make sure to plan accordingly.
- Speak to the parents, not the interpreter. Make sure to talk directly to the parents and not the interpreter.
- Speak evenly and pause frequently. Don’t necessarily speak slowly, but do speak at a measured pace and pause often to allow the interpreter to translate a manageable amount of information.
- Offer local support resources info. Parents might not know about resources such as homework-help programs at the library or a tutoring support program through the school or community.
- Leave time for parent questions. Highlight the importance of ongoing communication between the home and school. Provide your contact information and ways parents can communicate their questions and concerns with bilingual support.
To see how Argo Translation can help your school district meet your interpretation needs, please visit our website at https://www.argotrans.com/services/interpretation
Peter founded Argo Translation, originally based in Milwaukee, WI, in 1995. Prior to transferring his love of all things international and his savvy business expertise into Chicago’s premier translation agency, he attended the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where he graduated with a major in finance and human resource management. After graduation he went on to become an Italian translator and project manager for an international medical equipment manufacturer and major airline.