While many in the industry have been slow to embrace remote interpreting, the current health crisis has shed light on its benefits, especially in medical settings where the stakes are higher than ever.
CLI has been proud to embrace remote interpretation for over 23 years. We have leveraged technology to help facilitate these services and connect interpreters with clients and non-English speakers in seconds.
However, not being able to communicate face-to-face poses challenges, not only for organizations that rely on on-site interpreting, but also for the interpreters themselves. After all, remote interpreting requires a certain skillset to navigate.
That’s why our team of quality assurance specialists — who have over 20 years of collective experience interpreting remotely — recently put their heads together to come up with a few best practices to share with interpreters who have never done it before. Their top 4 tips are below!
1. Tone is everything
Bahaa, certified Arabic interpreter and QA specialist, discussed the importance of tone. He emphasized that interpreters should “use tone as their main tool and exercise self-awareness to ensure a good experience for all parties in the conference.”
With the absence of in-person, face-to-face communication in telephone interpreting encounters, a lot of the nonverbal messaging is conveyed with the help of the tone of voice used by each party. Remote interpreters must learn to calibrate their ear to identify fluctuations in tone and match it during each interaction.
2. Use established interpreting protocols
There are many industry protocols that help interpreters navigate challenging encounters and barriers to effective communication. These tools give remote interpreters the skills that allow them to handle any situation seamlessly.
Protocols guide interpreters on what they should or should not do during a call. For example, transparency allows an interpreter to request clarification on her own behalf without confusion as to who is asking for the clarification.
Seasoned remote interpreters also make sure they are aware of the technical difficulties that may come up so they can be addressed successfully.
Eunice, a Mandarin interpreter and QA specialist at CLI, recommends the basics. “Make sure that all parties can hear/see the interpreter at the start of the call to avoid any issues with accuracy due to poor connectivity later on,” she states. “Be proactive, and don’t wait until there is an issue.”
3. Keep resources within reach
Remote interpreters have the advantage of immediate access to a number of online resources, websites, and dictionaries. We always recommend that interpreters bookmark their most reliable resources to make sure any unknown terminology is accessed in no time.
Experienced interpreters have many years of practice accessing language resources without having to delay the conversation between two parties. Usually, this is done on the back end while the other party is speaking.
We always recommend interpreters work from a reliable home office with access to a computer with a good internet connection. This ensures they can look up information rapidly.
4. Stay connected
Working remotely from a home office can oftentimes create feelings of loneliness. Interpreters can stay connected to others in their profession via online forums and Meetup groups to avoid feeling disconnected.
Other remote interpreters know the challenges that come with the job. You can use this network to bounce ideas off other professionals who have been in similar situations. Interpreters working remotely can also easily access online webinars to help hone their skills and grow their professional network.
The unprecedented events have taken the world by surprise. We can use this opportunity to rise to the occasion and ensure the continuity of our language services for all of those who will surely need it during these times of crisis.