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Interpreters - FAQs

Do I need an interpreter?
Firstly, an interpreter and translator are two different practitioners. An interpreter deals with spoken languages where as a translator only deals with the written word.

An interpreter can be booked for a number of reasons and situations. The basic reason an interpreter will be booked is because of a language barrier. Interpreters therefore work in   settings involving business meetings, conferences, presentations, court hearings, police questioning and many other situations where one or more persons can not understand each other due to languages and culture barriers.

How much does an interpreter cost?
Costs vary and depend upon factors such as language combination, the length of the booking, the nature of the subject matter, the location and the number of people involved.
Consider booking an interpreter for a minimum of 90 minutes or half a day if court or business and conference bookings (as per established practices) and also allow for travel time and travel expenses.

How many interpreters do I need?
This really depends on the nature of the work. Interpreting is mentally exhausting work so an interpreter should never work for more than 45 minutes at a time without a break.
For simultaneous interpreting the guidelines are a lot stricter in that you should hire two interpreters for a whole day, with each interpreter taking turns of 20 to 30 minutes each.
For face to face/consecutive interpreting the requirements differ according to the nature of the booking request.

What type of interpreting modes do interpreters use?
There are three modes of interpreting:
Consecutive – this is when an interpreter listens to a segment of speech and then interprets it. This mode is commonly used in face to face meetings and speeches.

2. Simultaneous – this mode is used when an interpreter sits in a booth and relays the interpretation of what is being said through a microphone to the listeners. This type of specialised interpreting skill is used at conferences and large meetings.

3. Sight Translation - this mode is a skill which enables the interpreter to read a document in its source language and then interpret it to the clients chosen language by delivering it orally.

What information do I need to give the interpreter? Initially they will need the following information:
Start/Finish Times:
Nature of meeting:

Duration of appointment:

Reference Materials:

However, to ensure effective communication the interpreter  would need prepare for the assignment . The preparation would involve you briefing the interpreter by giving them as much background information as possible about your case. For example, if the meeting involves some delicate issues they should be informed accordingly so as to prepare for them. If a presentation involves some specific terminology the interpreter must be given a copy of the presentation in order to prepare. In short, if the interpreter goes into a meeting ‘blind’ they may find it difficult to accommodate your needs.

Some advice for working with professional Interpreters

  • Speak slowly, clearly and concisely using shorter sentences at all times to enable the interpreter to convey all the information said. The interpreter may, otherwise, have to ask you         to repeat  or clarify parts of what you have said.
  •  If communication becomes heated, do not forget to pause for the interpreter – the longer you keep going, the more likely it is that there will be omissions.
  •  Ensure that all the people involved in the meeting are aware of the interpreter’s needs before the meeting commences.
  • Tell participants to pause after every few sentences, point out that if everyone speaks at the same time, the interpreter will not be able to interpret.
    •  Send detailed company information to the interpreter in advance and as much information as possible about the content of the meeting they will be interpreting in.
             Let them ​​know about websites (your own and related websites) so they may do their own background research on your company terminology and topical issues.
    • If you are using equipment, ensure it is working in advance and does not have to be tested just before the event. If you are using a tour-guide kit, you will need a fresh microphone        battery every day, for optimum performance, and the headsets will need recharging daily.
  •  Ensure that the interpreter is seated in a place where s/he can hear everything they have to interpret without any disturbing background noise.
  •  The interpreter also has to be able to see from where s/he is sitting PowerPoint presentations, other large screens, etc, that form part of the meeting. If possible speakers’                      faces should be visible to the interpreter as well (this will help the interpreter to concentrate better).
  •  Be aware of the fact that your best source of information and advice will often be the interpreter as s/he can point out to you where to place the delegates s/he is interpreting for,            and where s/he should be seated to be able to be most effective, as well as other important details.
  • Interpreters will require coffee/tea breaks and lunch breaks to recharge their batteries and should not be expected to interpret throughout them. The interpreters needs time to rest        and eat when no demands are being made on them.
  • Travel expenses are paid in addition to the fee. Accommodation (if required) and meals for the interpreters are provided by the client, preferably at the venue itself.  


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Language Experts Pty Ltd

P.O. Box 780 Mount Eliza  Victoria 3930


Tel: +61 387745038

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