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Telephone Interpreting
Thread poster: xxxraguidam
xxxraguidam
Local time: 07:50
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Apr 3, 2005

Dear Friends,

Does anybody have experience in telephone interpreting? How is it? Is it easy to get a good number of jobs/projects, or is it too hard?

I live in the UK and I already work as an face-to-face interpreter. I would like to work as a telephone interpreter as well. If you could give me any hints or suggestions about this field, I would be very grateful.

Rachel


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Benno Groeneveld  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:50
English to Dutch
+ ...
telephone interpreting Apr 4, 2005

Hi.

I've been doing telephone interpreting for about five years. It's not too hard, the hardest thing is to remain patient and keep a straight face. People can be very strange, especially when they're upset, having just lost their credit card or travelers' cheques, but you knew that already, if you're an interpreter.

There are sometimes technical problems, telephone lines can be noisy, or voices can be weak and since you can't see the person, you can't read body language.

But overall, if you can do regular interpreting, you can do telephone interpreting. I find it fairly lucrative, since I can do it in between other jobs.

I've been mainly working with Language Line in California, they're a good outfit, pay well, and very timely.

Best regards,

Benno
Dutch English
St. Paul, Minnesota
US


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xxxraguidam
Local time: 07:50
English to Portuguese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Apr 4, 2005

Dear Benno,

Thanks for the information! This is very helpful. Actually, there are two issues in telephone interpreting that concern me:

i) the absence of body language, as you mentioned;

ii) how to deal with different accents over the phone: I have good knowledge of the various accents of my native language (Portuguese). However, I still have some difficulties with certain English accents. I live in the UK, and here you find a whole range of dialects. Some of them are clear to me, I can understand well, but some are not so easy. When I do face-to-face interpreting, I usually spend the first minutes of the assignment introducing myself and chatting informally with the clients, so that I can identify their accents and try to get used to them before doing the real job. However, in telephone interpreting you have no time for that... So, what do you do if you happen to get a client who speaks an accent that is unfamiliar to you? What do you do if you cannot understand him/her very well? I wonder what to do in such cases...


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Benno Groeneveld  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:50
English to Dutch
+ ...
Accents Apr 5, 2005

Rachel:

You'll just have to go with the flow (as they used to say in California). And ask everyone to speak as slowly and clearly as they can. I have interpreted for various British functionaries even though I have an American accent and we got along fine.

The only real problems I've had were with people who lived in the Netherlands for a while and spoke some broken Dutch, which was very hard to understand. In those cases I have asked them for their mother tongue and then trasnferred the call back to the call center asking for an interpreter of that language.

Telephone interpreting can be very satisfying, like when I helped calmed down a woman whose husband had a heart attack, reassuring her the ambulance was on its way. Or helped people block their stolen credit cards, or get their stolen travelers' cheques reimbursed. And then there was this drunken fisherman who refused to give his name to a police officer. Who calmly informed him, through me, that he would lock the fisherman up for a few hours, naked, if he didn't change his attitude. Which he did quickly.

Good luck and best regards.

Benno
Dutch English
St. Paul, MN
USA


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xxxraguidam
Local time: 07:50
English to Portuguese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks again! Apr 5, 2005

Dear Benno,

Thanks for the valuable information! You surely have interesting stories to tell.

I agree with you: interpreting is a satisfying work. I also feel that I am helping people in some way.

Kind regards,

Rachel


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Adela Van Gils  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 08:50
German to Dutch
+ ...
Thanks for the information May 26, 2005

Dear colleagues,

What do you charge per hour for telephone interpreting? I know it will vary per country and subject, but like to hear your answers.

Thanks, Adela


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Jeff.X
English to Chinese
+ ...
Telephone interpreting Aug 14, 2005

Very good. Thanks a lot

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Aleksandra Kwasnik  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:50
Polish to German
+ ...
Charge per hour? Aug 14, 2005

Hello,

I've been contacted by a company which is planning to introduce telephone interpreting services in Germany and have no idea how much charge per hour is usual for this kind of jobs.

Could anybody give me an approximate idea on how to handle this question? I'd appreciate very much & thanks in advance!

Aleksandra


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vorloff
Bosnian to English
+ ...
Charge Aug 15, 2005

I do a little bit of phone interpreting, and I charge $1/minute, although I have heard of rates a bit below and a bit above that. Just estimate how much would make it a worthwhile assignment for you, but don't go too low, because even though it is good in some ways to be able to earn some money while just sitting at home, it is also inconvenient because you never know when they will call, and you have to drop everything to take the call, and sometimes also time differences mean that they are calling at odd hours (like while you're sleeping).

I hope that helps! I think there was another thread on this topic in the forums a while back, so try a search if you want more information.

Good luck,

Vera


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Aleksandra Kwasnik  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:50
Polish to German
+ ...
Thanks! Aug 15, 2005

Thank you very much, Vera!



A.


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Aleksandra Kwasnik  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:50
Polish to German
+ ...
$0,5 per minute ? Aug 18, 2005

Vera Orloff wrote:

and I charge $1/minute, although I have heard of rates a bit below and a bit above that

Vera


Thanks once more, Vera, I did check other threads on this topic.

When you were speaking about "a bit below 1USD" you did not talk about 0,5 $ Vera, did you?

That's what I've been offered and it rather seems a VERY low rate considered the fact that you have to interrupt everything else to accept the call and may have serious concentration problems with resuming your translation work ...

The company claims to have one of the highest per-minute rates in the industry, but the minimum rates I discovered in other threads were not lower than 0,65...



[Edited at 2005-08-18 18:04]


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vorloff
Bosnian to English
+ ...
try to negotiate a higher rate Sep 1, 2005

I have actually in the meantime been in touch with some other interpreters who do telephone interpreting on a regular basis, and it seems that the $1/min. rate might be on the high end, so don't be overly insulted by the $.5/min offer, since this seems to be a rate paid for many languages. As I recall, the company first offered me .75, and I accepted, but then worked a few times and realized that since I only have a cell phone, it did not pay off for me to be on the phone for an hour, possibly incurring some phone charges (in the US we pay per minute for our mobile in-coming and out-going calls, but only if we go over a set number of minutes), so I called them and asked them to increase the rate. Probably the only reason they agreed is because they did not have other interpreters in my language combinations already lined up, and because my calls represent a very small portion of their business.

So, you could try to negotiate a higher rate, based on what would make it worthwhile for you to do it. If they do not agree to a higher rate, you could always try it out for a month and then decide if it's something you want to continue. If they have a high volume, it might be a good way to supplement your income without much effort during slow times, and when you have work, you can just not take the calls (some agencies have shifts, though, when you agree to be available, in which case that wouldn't be an option).

Anyway, good luck, whatever you end up deciding!

Vera


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Aleksandra Kwasnik  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:50
Polish to German
+ ...
Thanks Sep 26, 2005

Thank you Vera,

I did in fact succeed in negotiating a higher rate

A.


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