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Elements for a Great Interpreter

Last updated on May 17th, 2021 at 02:41 pm

Elements for a Great Interpreter

In the age of advanced technology and globalization of business, we are communicating more often with individuals of different cultures and languages.  On special occasions, these interactions require the service of an interpreter.  Professional interpreters get the satisfaction of knowing that their contributions have helped others understand and make decisions that are important to them.


Skill sets of Professional Interpreters

The basic objective of an interpreter is to orally “convert a message uttered in a source language into an equivalent message in the target language” (IMIA: International Medical Interpreters Association).  Interpreting is carried out in real time, simultaneously or consecutively between speakers of different languages.  Here are some important elements to take into consideration for an interpreter to deliver good service and properly serve both clients.

  • Neutrality:  Interpreters must be careful to set aside preconceived notions, emotions, and biases as they deliver.  This is the ethical way to deliver interpretations.
  • Maintaining ethical behavior: An interpreter must have both client’s trust that he/she is delivering both parties’ messages exactly the way they intended, rather than how the interpreter thinks they should be intended.  The interpreter must also protect the privacy and confidentiality of both parties and be absolutely sure of the information passed.
  • Cultural interface: Being an interpreter involves not only understanding the languages, but also the underlying assumptions and beliefs based on each party’s culture.  The interpreter must understand how each culture’s assumptions and beliefs may affect the perception that each party has on the messages being conveyed.
  • Managing the flow of communication: an interpreter must encourage both parties to communicate directly with each other, rather than mostly or exclusively to the interpreter.  This will help both parties to maintain the importance of their individual roles, rather than treating the interpreter as the most knowledgeable and important presence in the room.

Education for Prospective Interpreters

If you are interested in becoming an interpreter, there are several wonderful educational institutions that provide wonderful programs.  They include programs offered at the Monterey Institute, Miami Dade College, Kent University, and Gallaudet University.

Flora Yu
Flora Yu
Flora was born and raised in New York to parents from Hong Kong and Taiwan. She has a degree in Accounting. She is fluent in Mandarin, and contributes a unique perspective as someone who was raised in 2 different cultures. She finds humor and opportunities to learn as she constantly searches for the balance between the East and West.